AFC North Power Rankings Week 17: Browns, Ravens create separation

The Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens have separated themselves from the pack in our Week 17 AFC North Power Rankings

Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns / Cooper Neill/GettyImages
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3. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-6)

Many of us scoffed when Mason Rudolph was named the starter for the Pittsburgh Steelers but it's hard not to be impressed with what he did against the Bengals this weekend. In just his first start since 2021, Rudolph threw for 290 yards with two touchdowns.

He proved to not only be an upgrade over Mitchell Trubisky but he looked better than Kenny Pickett has all year. On his first drive alone, Trubisky found a way to get George Pickens going, hitting him in stride on a slant pass that Pickens turned into an 86-yard touchdown.

Pickens, who had been disgruntled for much of the year, finished with four receptions for 195 yards with two touchdowns. His second one was another long touchdown, this time going for 66 yards. It all added up to a 34-11 win for Pittsburgh who kept their slim playoff hopes alive. But even if they don't make it to the postseason, they can take solace in the fact that they might have done enough to keep the Bengals out.

Head coach Mike Tomlin has still never has a losing season as the head coach in Pittsburgh. For a while, it appeared that would change this year but that might no longer be the case. The Steelers are 8-6 and need a win over the Seahawks or Ravens in Week 17 or 18 to keep that streak alive.