AFC North Playoff Scenarios and Standings: Ravens Vying for No. 1 Seed, Steelers and Browns in Playoff Position

Three AFC North teams would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. Will the Ravens be the No. 1 seed? Can the Steelers or Browns still win the division?

The AFC North was supposed to be a four-team race in 2023, but Joe Burrow’s season-ending wrist injury has effectively removed the Cincinnati Bengals from the playoff conversation. The Baltimore Ravens, one of the NFL‘s elite clubs, are in first place heading into Week 13, while the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns remain in contention.

How will the division shape up over the final six weeks of the regular season? Let’s run through all the top AFC North playoff scenarios for the Ravens, Steelers, and Browns.

AFC North Playoff Scenarios

Baltimore Ravens Playoff Chances

At 9-3, the Ravens are in the driver’s seat in the AFC North. But it’s worth noting they have the lowest division-winning odds (73%) of any current first-place AFC team, per the New York Times’ projection model. The Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, and Jacksonville Jaguars all have at least a 95% chance of winning their respective divisions.

Clearly, it would take an epic collapse for Baltimore to miss the playoffs altogether. They’d still finish above .500 even if they lost the rest of their games. As such, the Ravens’ postseason odds sit at 99%.

Baltimore has a bye in Week 13, so its record won’t change this weekend. But they’ll be watching to see how the Steelers and Browns fare and how the Chiefs, Dolphins, and Jaguars play in pursuit of the AFC’s No. 1 seed and a first-round bye.

MORE: Cincinnati Bengals Playoff Scenarios

Those three clubs all have eight wins and hold tiebreakers over the Ravens. If all three win on Sunday, Baltimore will fall to the No. 4 seed.

Here’s the Ravens’ remaining schedule, featuring the most challenging slate of opponents to close the season in the league, per DVOA:

  • Week 13: BYE
  • Week 14: vs. LAR
  • Week 15: at JAX
  • Week 16: at SF
  • Week 17: vs. MIA
  • Week 18: vs. PIT

Pittsburgh Steelers Playoff Chances

One week after firing offensive coordinator Matt Canada, the Steelers snapped a 58-game streak of failing to post 400 yards while simultaneously keeping their hopes of winning the AFC North alive.

While Pittsburgh doesn’t control its own divisional destiny, it only needs Baltimore to drop one game before the two clubs square off in a Week 18 matchup. The Steelers already beat the Ravens earlier this year — if they can stay within one game until the regular-season finale, they could take the AFC North crown to close the campaign.

The odds of that happening are relatively slim, about one in five, per the NYT. But Pittsburgh has an excellent shot of reaching the postseason via a Wild Card slot.

The Steelers have a 79% chance of earning a playoff berth entering Week 13. In a best-case scenario — a Pittsburgh win and losses by the fellow Wild Card contender Browns and Indianapolis Colts — Mike Tomlin and Co.’s odds will rise to 85%.

On the other hand, if the Steelers are upset by the Cardinals, Cleveland takes down the Los Angeles Rams, and the Colts lose to the Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh’s playoff chances will drop to roughly 63%.

Here’s the Steelers’ remaining schedule:

  • Week 13: vs. ARZ
  • Week 14: vs. NE
  • Week 15: at IND
  • Week 16: vs. CIN
  • Week 17: at SEA
  • Week 18: at BAL

Cleveland Browns Playoff Chances

Joe Flacco will become the fourth quarterback to start for the Browns when he goes under center in place of Dorian Thompson-Robinson (concussion) against the Rams in Week 13. Deshaun Watson, P.J. Walker, and DTR all struggled this season, but Cleveland’s elite defense — No. 1 in efficiency and No. 2 in yards per play and points per drive — has kept them afloat.

MORE: NFL Playoff Picture After Week 12

The Browns enter Sunday with the same 7-4 record as the Steelers. The AFC North rivals split their season series, but Pittsburgh holds the tiebreaker thanks to their divisional record. The Steelers are currently the No. 5 seed, while the Browns are No. 6.

As such, Cleveland’s odds to win the AFC North (9%) are roughly half Pittsburgh’s. But they’re still on track to earn a playoff spot.

The Browns have a 68% chance of winning at least a Wild Card berth, per the NYT. In a vacuum (not considering the results of other games around the NFL), a Week 13 victory will have a slightly more significant effect on Cleveland’s playoff odds than a loss would.

If the Browns lose to the Rams, their chances of making the playoffs will only drop eight percentage points. But if they win, their odds will rise 13 points to 81%.

Here’s the Browns’ remaining schedule, the easiest of any AFC North team:

  • Week 13: at LAR
  • Week 14: vs. JAX
  • Week 15: at CHI
  • Week 16: at HOU
  • Week 17: vs. NYJ
  • Week 18: at CIN

Want to predict the rest of the 2023 season with our FREE NFL Playoff Predictor? Looking for the most up-to-date NFL standings? What about a breakdown of team depth charts or the NFL schedule? Pro Football Network has you covered with that and more!

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