Other than the 2009 season, no team in the AFC North has made the post season since 2006 other than the Baltimore Ravens or the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Cincinnati Bengals won the division in 2009 but in the past five seasons neither the Cleveland Browns nor those same Bengals have threatened to be a major force in pushing the Steelers and Ravens from atop the AFC North.
Now with the Browns trying to build their team around a young quarterback, they seem to be making the right moves, but still have a long way to go and too many holes to fill before they can challenge for a chance to play late into January. The Bengals are about to change to a rookie quarterback and totally revamp their team, even cutting ties with their star wide receiver along with their veteran QB.
Neither team appears to be ready to unseat either the Ravens or Steelers anytime soon, so it looks like what many think is the best rivalry in the NFL will continue to be for supremacy in the AFC North. Even with their brutal battles at least twice, if not three times a year, both teams should continue to contend for playoff berths and make every other team in the conference afraid to see them on their schedule. Meanwhile, there is no reason to expect the Bengals or the Browns to contend for anything other than to stay out of the basement of the AFC North.