Steelers Running Away With AFC North Crown

The Pittsburgh Steelers are going to win the AFC North. It’s a done deal, even if only half the season has been played. You know it, I know it, the sports books know it too. The Steelers’ odds are so high that it’s literally not even worth betting on them.

It’s thanks to the Steelers playing well, or at least well enough, and the rest of the North being comprised of three tire fires. The Baltimore Ravens have no offense, the Cincinnati Bengals no leadership, and the Cleveland Browns…well, they don’t have much of anything.

So through nine weeks, the Steelers have a 2.5 game lead on the Ravens, who are sitting at 4-5. And really, even a bigger lead than that considering they have a game in-hand over Baltimore.

The last time the Steelers had such a lead through nine weeks? You’d have to travel all the way back to 1978, the middle of Chuck Noll’s dynasty and a year where the team finished 14-2. Through the first nine weeks, Pittsburgh went 8-1. Sitting in second place were the Houston Oilers at 5-4, essentially assuring the Steelers the AFC Central crown. And oh yeah, the Steelers won the Super Bowl that year.

In other words, in the lifetime of a lot of people reading this article, including yours truly, have never seen the Steelers open up this kind of lead at this point of the season.

This time in 2016, the Steelers and Ravens were neck-and-neck with 4-4 records. Pittsburgh broke away with a strong second half, as has been the trend recently under Mike Tomlin. This year, they don’t need that kind of surge to win the North. Though if they want to reach their ultimate regular season goal, the #1 seed overall, that kind of second half stretch is necessary.

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • Reader783

    5 straight wins clinches the AFC North….in week 14. I wonder the earliest the division has ever been clinched by any team, at least in recent memory. It is an unusual circumstance, hopefully we start distancing ourselves on the field as well.

  • JT

    Ravens have left: Lions, Steelers, Bengals. So sadly, I still see them going 8-8 or 9-7. Bengals have left, on the other hand: Titans, Broncos, Steelers, Vikings, Lions, Ravens. Oof! Perhaps this is the losing season that finally ends the Marvin Lewis era.

  • Reader783

    That’s what we thought about his 4-11-1 in 2008, 4-12 in 2010 and 6-9-1 last year…

    The man is invincible!

  • ThatGuy

    I wanna say the year NE went 16-0 they clinched in like week 12.

  • Reader783

    Sorry, I meant the AFC North, a traditionally very competitive division, certainly when compared to the free-ride that is the AFC East

  • Most of the posters on here want Tomlin fired after 11 seasons with 8 of them having double digit win seasons, one 9-7 season and two 8-8 seasons. They probably consider him invincible too…

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Sweeping the division would be Boss, but a number one seed would be even sweeter!

  • Reader783

    One probably leads to the other in our case this season

  • SwagDaddy330

    The AFC East has been clinched in week 1 since 2009

  • SilverSteel

    HPK, I am normally on board with your posts, but “most” of the forum members do not want MT fired. That is a vocal but small group. Just because there is criticism to go around, does not mean everyone thinks he should lose his job.

    What would this site be like if we all just agreed with each other and raised no questions about sub-par play and coaching? Just smile and say everything is fine? SD would be very boring.

  • Reader783

    2016: Steelers clinched week 16
    2015: Bengals clinched week 15
    2014: Steelers clinched week 16
    2013: Bengals clinched week 16
    2012: Ravens clinched in week 15
    2011: Ravens clinched in week 17
    2010: Steelers clinched in week 17
    2009: Bengals clinched in week 16
    2008: Steelers clinched in week 15
    2007: Steelers clinched in week 16
    2006: Ravens clinched in week 15

    If anyone cares to do more of this, feel free, but at least for the past decade nobody has clinched the North before Week 15.

  • JT

    Ha! Point taken. But if he’s even broken AJ Green now…

  • alevin16

    FIRE DANNY SMITH…sorry couldn’t resist 😀

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    I’m appalled at this pollyanish perspective. Nearly every citizen of Steelers Nation knows that other than the 17 December struggle with the Evil Empire; that everything else on the schedule is a TRAP game!

  • alevin16

    Didn’t the Colts clinch it in week 12 or something like that a few years ago with Peyton when people wanted them to go for the undefeated season?

  • JT

    I agree that this group is vocal. And while some may consider it to be small, I think most will agree it’s larger than it should be. All you have to do is go to games, listen to post game shows, or pay attention at sports bars to know the fine line Tomlin lives on in this town. Do I think many of the posters here are smarter than that? Yeah, I do. But on the whole HPK’s point is that Tomlin is roundly underappreciated. Which he is.

  • PaeperCup

    Lets not get ahead of ourselves though. Yes we are at a comfortable spot, but all it takes is a 4 game skid to turn that around. Go Steelers!

  • PaeperCup

    lol. Gah! I hate the Patriots.

  • PaeperCup

    I love being in a competitive division, but man it’d be nice to mosey into the playoffs without breaking a sweat.

  • You are right it’s not most, it definitely more that it should be. He’s not a perfect coach, but no one is. And about 20 other NFL teams would be overjoyed to have him. Just like Andy Reid being chased with torches and pitchforks out of Philly, and being welcomed with open arms and embraced in KC.

    I just like to show the detractors exactly how ridiculous they are.

  • ND_Steel

    I like Tomlin a lot as a coach, just frustrates me that he doesn’t seem to get better is some areas as time goes.

    1) Time management. Always an issue, doesn’t use his timeouts correctly.

    2) Losing to inferior teams. Every year…same thing, we lose 2-3 games we were favored in keeping us from those byes NE gets every year.

    3) Not beating the Evil Empire. NE has our number.

    4) The infamous Tomlin Doghouse. He seems stubborn on some players…Boykin, Shark to name a few.

    5) Lack of discipline. Same crap with the excessive celebration penalties.

    6) Odd struggle at the position of his background. He was a CB coach and this is where we have had the biggest issues.

    That said, I am still a Tomlin fan. He has never lost a team, has generally been a great morale compass for this team, and generally has his teams ready to play.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Admiral Ackbar: “IT’S A TRAP!”

  • Darth Blount 47

    All I know is… the Steeler bandwagon is about to get REALLY full after these next few weeks. And whether it was couth or not, Vince “Thumpa” Williams DID have a point, with his critical post earlier this year.

  • SeventhHeavan

    It’s amazing how Marvin Lewis has withstood the test of time. This guy has drafted and picked up thug after moron after felon. The latest being Mixon. How many playoff games has this guy won in all the years there? Hey Cincy, please make sure to keep Lewis around for another 20 years so all we have to worry about are the Ravens.

  • pittfan

    what’s the over/under on “I knew it all along”?

  • pittfan

    SELL THE TEAM. ROONEYS CANT RUN A LEMONADE STAND!!!

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Gotta play every game like our last and the rest will take care of it self!

  • Cwallace

    And you’ll know when they start posting here. Steelers Depot get ready for the weather to turn fair…our less fanatical brethren are on the way. Vince Dub got it right. Something about them FSU cats..piece-speakers!

  • Cwallace

    HaHa. You’re absolutely right and im going to be viewing each game as such. As for the Cheatriots game..i got my voodoo doll from Haiti with Bradys face on it last week…yall can thank me after the game.

  • GravityWon

    I don’t like looking that far ahead or making guarantees. There is a lot of football to be played.

    Focus on the next game.

    Well, unless your talking draft prospects.

  • Lambert58

    Here’s to another year like 1978!!

  • Alex, the Steelers were 7-1 after eight games in 1978 and the Oilers were 5-3, so after eight games the Steelers were two games up on the Oilers whereas we’re currently 2.5 up on the Ravens. In other words, never in their history–before super bowls or after–have the Steelers been this so far in front of their division after they’ve played eight games!!! They NEED to keep up the pressure!!!

  • GravityWon

    That is correct. I don’t want Tomlin fired. That doesn’t mean I’ll never disagree with his decisions.

    Haley on the other hand…..maybe he should be after this season if the offense doesn’t live up to perceived expectations for the remainder of the season.

  • Cwallace

    Agreed

  • Cwallace

    Lol. Poor AJ….i like that kid and you know its got to be bad for him to go off like that. That Ramsey will make you wanna slap his momma tho…im an FSU alum…ive seen him run his cocky mouth before…

  • GravityWon

    That could be true. They have most of their assets invested with the Steelers. There isn’t $50 left for a solid oak frame stand.

  • Cwallace

    I think 13-3 gets us home field guaranteed… if we beat the Pats 12-4 will do. Il take the later.

  • GravityWon

    Tomlin is very underappreciated. That goes with the territory of being a coach or QB. The fact that many of us DON’T want him fired says a lot in itself. I’d bet 28 to 29 coaches have less support from fans and a couple others like Biils and Rams coaches are in the honeymoon period.

  • dany

    I know it was early december, probably week 13

  • J Jones

    And they still havent played their best football. Im still hesitant to even think past sunday tho

  • Kevin Schwartz

    “It’s thanks to the Steelers playing well, or at least well enough, and the rest of the North being comprised of three tire fires.” Don’t forget that a bunch of the teams we’re playing are missing their QBs (Colts, Packers, Texans all missing their starters).

  • Alex K

    With the rest of the AFC North in this crappy state we better be in first place. Steelers better not be patting themselves on that back.

  • alevin16

    Yes it would be nice to have a Patriot Path.

  • Daniel Santo

    I can hear them all now…MT is winning with Cahhhhwers team! BB is Cahhhhwers QB. Its really infuriating. I bet at least 25 other NFL teams would love to have MT as their HC.

  • Danielsteelstrong81

    No because if the jags finish same record tham they beat us with tie brker

  • NinjaMountie

    A good reason that the those teams are in such a sorry state is because the Steelers beat them. They took care of business. So, while a bit early, a little back patting isn’t completely out of line.

  • NinjaMountie

    I don’t want to beat the Pats in the regular season. I don’t think we have it in us to beat them twice in one year. I’ll take a playoff victory.

  • NinjaMountie

    When the Steelers lose a game, or START losing in the game thread, there are always these familiar people that show up that aren’t around any other time. LOL….Bengals, Ravens, or Browns fans? What’s your guess?

  • NinjaMountie

    “IT’S A TRAP!”
    ~Admiral Ackbar

  • NinjaMountie

    Ooops, didn’t see your post before I posted mine. Beat me to it….big time.

  • NinjaMountie

    I think the Lions and the Bengals beat them. I’m calling it now.

  • Darth Blount 47

    The Week 15 Patriot game.

    We win: “I knew it all along.”

    We lose: “See, I knew it all along.”

    Just for different reasons.

  • Bonnie Powell

    Don’t jinx them please- and besides, Flacco and Harbaugh both say they are still in it and are going on a tear in the 2nd half and will win the north and get in the playoffs. Never underestimate those idiots either cuz they just might do it. Their schedule is easier than ours too.

  • SilverSteel

    Ok, well stated argument and I agree. I just hate it when you get labeled as a mouth breather idiot because your opinion is different. And we do a lot of name calling just because of opposing views. If it was all good natured trash talk, that’s different. Some of the comments are meant to hurt, and as fans of the same team, that seems unnecessary. IMO

    But yes, MT is under appreciated. On that we can agree.

  • SilverSteel

    Thanks HPK. Cya on the game thread this week and we can figure out who needs fired next. 😉

  • SilverSteel

    If this conversation was about Haley, it would be wildly different.

  • Cwallace

    You’re absolutely right Danielsteelstong8 and i cant help but see the Jags..they’re right in my face every day. I have property in jax and im here now. I hate that team and i factored in them losing.two more games and Phillip Rivers owns them so i think they lose this week. Many on here know my history with that team. Ive been thrown out of Everbank..cant go anywhere without being spewed with venom from that wretched fanbase. Im the most hated Steelers fan in Florida…let alone Jville. So my steelers nation friend i plan on going to a home game in jax…to jinx them. They are 2-11 against my mojo and i jinx them when they’re good so i havent had to worry about them for the last decade. Besides, Tennessee outright owns them since 1999. I got them. GO STEELERS!!!!

  • Cwallace

    Me too NinjaMountie but we might have to. Id rather lose to them and somehow still get home field advantage but thats probably going13-3 while they go 12-4. Anyways we getting ahead of ourselves. GoSteelers!

  • Cwallace

    Ratbird! They gotta be mad as hell in heroin city with that stoneage team they got.

  • Jon Crissinger

    I thought most divisions had 4 teams? There’s only 3 teams there. Lol