Barnwell predicts the winners of the NFL’s tightest division races: Are the Bucs really a lock?

    Bill Barnwell is a staff writer for ESPN.com.

By win-loss records, there are three incredibly tight divisional races in the NFL after 10 weeks. In the AFC North, the six-win Ravens are just ahead of three teams with five wins. In the AFC West, the suddenly resurgent Chiefs are in a similar boat. On the other side of the league, the NFC South-leading Bucs have lost two straight in a division in which two wins separate them from the last-place Falcons.

Let’s run through each of those races and identify what’s driving them with seven weeks of the regular season left. As a spoiler, I’ll note that ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) doesn’t think these races are quite as close as they seem by win-loss record. I’m not sure I completely agree with the algorithm, and I’ll explain why for each race.

There are a few interesting battles happening here, so we’ll start in the AFC North, where the team in first place has lost two of three games by a combined 36 points:

AFC North

Chances to win the division (per FPI):

Baltimore Ravens (6-3): 53.7%
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3-1): 16.6%
Cleveland Browns (5-5): 16.1%
Cincinnati Bengals (5-4): 13.5%

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