With the NFL season coming to a close, four divisions have been clinched and three divisions are essentially two-team races. And then there’s the AFC North.
The AFC North is the only division in which no team has been mathematically eliminated.
The 9-6 Bengals are the clear favorites, with a one-game lead over the 8-7 Ravens, a 1.5-game lead over the 7-7-1 Steelers and a two-game lead over the 7-8 Browns. But nothing has been determined yet.
The Bengals clinch the division if they win one of their two remaining games, either next week against the Chiefs or the following week against the Browns. The Bengals could even win the division if they lose both games, if they get some help elsewhere.
The Ravens, however, still have a path to the division title. If the Ravens win their last two (against the Rams next week and then against the Steelers in their finale) while the Bengals lose their last two, then the Ravens win the AFC North.
The Steelers would have to win both their remaining games (against the Browns next week and the Ravens in the finale) to have a shot at the AFC North title, but if they do win both and the Bengals’ lose both their remaining games, the Steelers would win the AFC North.
And the Browns would win the AFC North if they win their final two (against the Steelers and Bengals) and the Bengals and Ravens both lose next week.
The simplest explanation of the AFC North race is that if the Bengals win one more game, they win the division. But if the Bengals lose out, things get very interesting.