AFC North Stats ‘N At, Week 16 Edition

USA Today Sports/Tommy Gilligan photo

Week 16 was not a good one for the Black and Gold. The AFC North was a mere .250 this week, and the sole winning team was the one which damaged the Steelers playoff hopes the most—the Ravens. Given the Steelers loss to said Ravens, the best scenario for the Monday night clash between the Bengals and Broncos would have been a Broncos loss, but that was not to be, either. And to no one’s surprise the Browns did not beat the Chiefs, although this had perhaps the smallest effect for good or ill on the Steelers. In other words, it was not a good week, and I don’t think most of us have recovered yet.

Record Week 16
Point Differential:

  • Bengals +135
  • Steelers +88
  • Ravens -36
  • Browns -138



Johnny Football had a rather unimpressive game, and then went out to celebrate, so he may or may not be the quarterback for the Week 17 tilt with the Steelers. It’s like a roller coaster up in Cleveland—just when things seem to be looking up you find yourself staring into an abyss.

The AJ McCarron-led Bengals did the Steelers no favors by losing in overtime to the Broncos. Neither did they do themselves any favors, as a bye week hangs in the balance, although they have clinched the division. Unless they beat the Ravens on Sunday and the Broncos lose to the Chargers, that is where things remain. Andy Dalton did get the cast off this week, but the word is the bone still hasn’t healed, so they could certainly use a bye week.QBR Week 15

The Patriots, despite also doing the Steelers no favors by losing in overtime to the Jets, are still guaranteed a bye week and have clinched their division.

The Steelers, who would have guaranteed themselves a spot in the post-season with wins against the Ravens and Browns, now are hanging by a thread. They depend upon Rex Ryan somehow pulling a Bills win out of the dumpster fire of the 2015 season against the suddenly hot Jets. You know Ryan would love to beat them. And in fact he did beat them, in New Jersey, in Week 10. And naturally, it is also imperative that the Steelers beat the Browns in Cleveland.

Hopefully Ben Roethlisberger will look more like himself next week. I found myself wondering if he had the flu, since it has been going through the locker room, and in fact Ben went home sick yesterday. So hopefully we can attribute his bad game to not feeling very well, and hopefully he will feel better Sunday. Much better.

The Ravens won the Super Bowl last Sunday, or all the Super Bowl they are going to get this season. Led by Ryan Mallett, 12 days after he arrived in Baltimore, the QB who couldn’t keep a job suddenly looked like John Elway.

Here are the NFL Passer Ratings for Week 13, for purposes of comparison to the QBR:

  • Ryan Mallett: 95.0
  • AJ McCarron: 87.8
  • Ben Roethlisberger: 62.7
  • Johnny Manziel: 42.6

As far as Pro Football Focus goes, Ben Roethlisberger is no longer tied with Carson Palmer for best QB in the league. You are probably assuming this is because Ben’s score dropped. It did, but the odd thing is, Carson Palmer’s score dropped even more, and thus Ben holds the undisputed № 1 spot. This despite the Cardinals blowing out the Packers 38-8. It’s a mystery. Here are the other ratings:

  • Ben Roethlisberger: 98.7
  • A.J. McCarron: 72.1
  • Ryan Mallett: 56.0 (This score also includes his uninspiring games with HOU.)
  • Johnny Manziel: 50.7

DVOA Offense 16

Overall Offense:  

Here are the Football Outsiders rankings:

  •  Pittsburgh: № 1
  • Cincinnati: № 3, last week № 5
  • Baltimore: № 21
  • Cleveland: № 25, last week № 26

Yes, I know. The fact that PIT is still the № 1 defense after last Sunday is very odd. They did drop a couple of points, as you can see on the chart, but are still the best, supposedly. As you can also see from the chart, the difference in DVOA between PIT and CIN at № 3 is very small, and their quarterback is AJ McCarron. Hopefully Ben will take this to heart…

Offensive Line:

Run Blocking:

  • Pittsburgh: № 5
  • Cincinnati: № 6, last week № 4
  • Baltimore: № 11, last week № 10
  • Cleveland: № 29, last week № 30

Pass Protection:

  • Ravens: № 2
  • Steelers: № 10
  • Bengals: № 12, last week № 8
  • Browns: № 25, last week № 26

Football OutsiderIndividual rankings for the best player from each team:

Wide Receivers:

  • Antonio Brown: 476 (№ 1)
  • A.J. Green: 380 (№ 3)
  • Kamar Aiken: 89 (№ 44)
  • Travis Benjamin: 53 (№ 57)

Both Wheaton and Bryant now have enough targets to make the main list, and rank № 31 and № 44 respectively. As far as Pro Football Focus goes, they rank Benjamin and Aiken rather differently—Antonio Brown is № 1, A.J. Green is № 4, Kamar Aiken is № 19, and Travis Benjamin is № 63. Brian Hartline has actually pass Benjamin, at № 57. (Wheaton and Bryant are №s 49 and 57 respectively.)

Tight ends:

  • Tyler Eifert: 208 (№ 2)
  • Gary Barnidge: 198 (№ 3)
  • Crockett Gilmore: 86 (№ 9)
  • Heath Miller: 45 (№ 17)

PFF has them as Eifert (3), Gillmore (9), Barnidge (14), Miller (20).

Running backs:

  • DeAngelo Williams: 195 (№ 2)
  • Gio Bernard: 124 (№ 12)
  • Buck Allen: 33 (№ 27)
  • Isaiah Crowell: 25 (No. 31)

PFF has them as Williams (4), Bernard (20), Duke Johnson (CLV) (22), Crowell (26), and Buck Allen (61).

DVOA Defense 16


The chart at left gives the Football Outsiders scoring for the defense. In their system, the lower the number the better the defense.

The rankings are:

  • Cincinnati: № 8, last week № 7
  • Pittsburgh: № 14, last week № 12
  • Baltimore: № 21, last week № 22
    • Cleveland: № 31, last week № 30

Defensive Players:

Football Outsiders doesn’t grade individual defensive players. They do rank the defensive lines, and here they are.

Pass Defense:

  • Cincinnati: № 8, last week № 7
  • Pittsburgh: № 10
  • Cleveland: № 21
  • Baltimore: № 24, last week № 26

Run Defense:

  • Cincinnati: № 15, last week № 13
  • Pittsburgh: № 17, last week № 18
  • Baltimore: № 20, down from № 19
  • Cleveland: № 31


Special Teams:

Return yards gained/allowed:

  • Ravens: 1171/363
  • Browns: 1234/1231
  • Bengals: 1018/1108
  • Steelers: 888/1233

Here are the Football Outsiders Special Teams rankings:

  • Baltimore № 1
  • Cincinnati: № 10, last week № 8
  • Pittsburgh: № 14, last week № 16
  • Cleveland: № 16, last week № 15

Something pretty exciting has happened here—PIT is no longer last in the AFC in special teams.

Takeaway to Turnover ratio, in order of awesomeness or lack thereof.

  • Cincinnati Bengals: +9
  • Pittsburgh Steelers: +2
  • Cleveland Browns: -8
  • Baltimore Ravens: -13

Power Rankings:

POwer rankings 16
From Elliot Harrison of

Ravens: № 28 (+3) How the Ravens swept the Steelers is anyone’s guess, but the sign of a good head coach is when his team doesn’t quit on the season. Baltimore didn’t force its fans to suffer through a mailed-in effort on Sunday. This was particularly [the case in] the secondary, which, after a couple of weeks of horrid play, held down the fort in a manner it hadn’t all season long — i.e., the DBs covered guys in the opposite jersey. Big-time pick, Jimmy Smith. (The second one, too — even though it didn’t count for anything more than some extra cardio work.)

Bengals: № 9 (-1) Where is this team headed? One-and-done in the playoffs? Or can AJ McCarron win a wild-card game if need be? Although McCarron fared admirably Monday night, the offense still only generated three points after the first two drives. Until Andy Dalton returns to the huddle, it will be difficult to gauge the Bengals. We know this, though: Vontaze Burfict can’t commit that penalty in overtime. Tough call on a solid player, but those 15 yards were huge.

Browns: № 27  Maybe Johnny Manziel will get reprimanded by the league and all that jazz, but I personally liked the helmet-throwing emotion we saw from Mr. Football on Sunday. The guy clearly wants to win. OK,everyone wants to win. But how about guys who hate losing? It didn’t look like Manziel was playing to any cameras at the end of the tight loss to the Chiefs, when the officials took their sweet time spotting the football as the clock ticked away. Manziel’s passing numbers weren’t great, but don’t tell me he wasn’t competing his butt off out there. He eclipsed 100 yards rushing against that Chiefs defense, too.

Steelers: № 7 (-2) The Steelers must beat the Browns and hope Rex Ryan says next week’s game against the Jetsdoesn’t mean anything. Because, of course, then Buffalo will play its best game of the season to defeat New York, the Steelers will make the postseason, and last Sunday’s turd of a performance in Baltimore will be forgiven. No Week 16 development was more shocking than Ryan Mallett beating Pittsburgh. (Well, save for Brandon Weeden winning again.)

ESPN: Comments from ESPN Stats and Information:

Ravens: № 24 (+4)   The Ravens are finishing with a losing record, but they swept the season series against the Steelers for only the third time in franchise history, and it might keep them out of the playoffs.

Bengals: No. 6 (-1)  Including the game in which he was injured, the Bengals are 1-2 since losing Andy Dalton. The Bengals are scoring on 30 percent of drives with AJ McCarron this season (43 percent with Dalton).

Browns: № 30 (+2)  Browns point totals in Johnny Manziel’s past five starts: 10, 9, 24, 13, 13. The Browns are 1-4 in those starts, beating only the 49ers

Steelers: № 9 (-5)  The bad news: Sunday’s loss has the Steelers on the outside looking in for the playoffs. The good news: They play the Browns in Week 17, against whom Ben Roethlisberger is 18-2 in his career.

Uncredited commentary from USA Today Sports:

Ravens: № 28 (+4)  Any season that includes a potentially crippling sweep of the hated Steelers can’t be considered a complete failure.

Bengals: № 6 (+4) Come-from-ahead loss in Denver prevented them from clinching bye week that might prove crucial to QB Andy Dalton’s status.

Browns: № 30  If we’d known “Merry Manziel” Christmas sweaters existed, we would have adjusted our Holiday wish list accordingly.

Steelers: № 10 (-5) They’re probably the most explosive team in the AFC. But they’re probably not going to postseason after Sunday’s bellyflop.


  • cold_old_steelers_fan

    Although the lead photo feels a bit like sticking it to the faithful, I have to admit I am coming to terms with the approaching end. As much as I would like the Bills to make it possible for the Steelers to back into the playoffs, part of me has to accept that if they do not make it in, it will be because they did not take care of business when it was needed.


    • I’m right there with you, COSF. It is tempting to lay this all on Josh Scobee, or the ref who overturned AB’s touchdown, or Mark Barron or Vontaze Burfict or what have you, but the fact is, the Steelers went into Baltimore and didn’t do enough to beat a 4-10 team. They have to own that, and we have to live with it. It’s a great pity…

      That said, I’ll be watching just as breathlessly as everyone else on Sunday to see if they beat the Browns and the Bills beat the Jets. The way they play Sunday will say a lot about who this team is, even if it is too late.


  • Sorry all about the opponent preview that wasn’t. I could tell you it was some sort of existential commentary, but I actually just had it scheduled on the wrong day. It will be out tomorrow… I hope


  • Pingback: The Five Stages of Steeler Fandom in 2015 | Going Deep:

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