AFC North Flexes Muscle With Three Playoff Teams

John Harbaugh knew early how good the AFC North would be this year.

The Ravens head coach said in Week 3 that he thought his team's division might be the best in football, and the results speak for themselves.

The AFC North is the only division in the NFL with three teams in the playoffs.

"Going back to the beginning of the season, it's not a surprise," Harbaugh said Monday. "It's a great division."

The division has been on a stellar run lately, as this is the second season the last four years that three AFC North teams have made the playoffs. The last time was in 2011, when the Steelers and Bengals both lost in the wild-card round, and the Ravens fell to the Patriots in the AFC championship.


"It says a lot about the division," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "For three teams to be able to go and be in the playoffs, it obviously means they've done a pretty good job outside of the division, and it's impressive."

Not only are three AFC North teams in the postseason, but the division also has the best combined record in the league. The Ravens, Steelers, Bengals and Browns combined to finished 38-25-1, and the closest to that mark was the NFC West (37-27).

The AFC North was even historically good, as the North became the league's first division since 1935 to have all four teams at least two games over .500 at any point of the season. All four teams had winning records until Week 15.

"It's a tough division – the best in football," running back Justin Forsett said. "Every game that we've played has been intense in the division. Other teams have struggled to play against us because it's so tough and physical, and you can see it."

The Ravens know as well as anyone how difficult it is to win games inside the AFC North – they went 3-3 in the division this year – and that's exactly what they'll have to do Saturday against Pittsburgh to keep their season alive.

"It is just going to be another one of those great moments in the Ravens-Steelers rivalry that we are looking forward to," Harbaugh said. "It's another playoff game there.  We'd like to win one of those one of these days in their place, and we're going to do our darnedest to try to pull that off Saturday night."

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