Is this year's AFC North the best division race ever?

The Baltimore Ravens went from the top of the AFC North to the bottom of it with losses to the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bengals then spent 12 days atop the division before getting blown out at home by the Cleveland Browns. The Steelers shared first place for three days before getting upset by the New York Jets on Sunday.

Where does that leave the AFC North with seven weeks remaining? The Browns, the only team in the division not to win an AFC North title, are alone in first place. Heading into the season, that seemed as likely as a certain pop star showing up at the Steelers' Bible study.

What we've learned is there are no great teams in the AFC North. But this has the makings of the best division race in league history.

The AFC North is the first division in which every team is at least two games above. 500 at any point in the season since the 1935 NFL Western Division. Only a half game separates the Browns (6-3) from the last-place Ravens and Steelers, both of whom are 6-4. The Bengals (5-3-1) are also a half game back of the Browns, but they're in second place because they're percentage points ahead of the Ravens and Steelers.

There is no clear-cut team to beat like the New England Patriots in the AFC East and the Denver Broncos in the AFC West. There are also no easy wins in the division like the winless Oakland Raiders or the one-win Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The AFC North is a collection of middle-of-the-road teams who are good, flawed and consistently streaky.

In terms of the AFC, the four AFC North teams are among the top eight in the conference. The Browns and Bengals would make the playoffs if the season ended today, but the Ravens and Steelers are next two teams on the bubble behind the Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) and Bengals.

Let's take a look at the road ahead for each team:


Record of remaining opponents: 25-30 (.454)

Home games (3): San Diego (5-4), Jacksonville (1-9) and Cleveland (6-3).

Road games (3): New Orleans (4-5), Miami (5-4) and Houston (4-5).


Record of remaining opponents: 34-31 (.523)

Home games (2): Pittsburgh (6-4) and Denver (7-2).

Road games (5): New Orleans (4-5), Houston (4-5), Tampa Bay (1-8), Cleveland (6-3) and Pittsburgh (6-4).


Record of remaining opponents: 32-30-2 (.515)

Home games (3): Houston (4-5), Indianapolis (6-3) and Cincinnati (5-3-1).

Road games (4): Atlanta (3-6), Buffalo (5-4), Carolina (3-5-1) and Baltimore (6-4).


Record of remaining opponents: 25-27-2 (.481)

Home games (3): New Orleans (4-5), Kansas City (6-3) and Cincinnati (5-3-1).

Road games (3): Tennessee (2-7), Cincinnati (5-3-1) and Atlanta (3-6).