AFC North coming down to the wire

Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens

When you think of the AFC North, two teams usually come to mind, the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers. It seems that year after year, these two teams battle it out all season long until one walks away with the AFC North crown.

However, this year is playing out a bit differently. Before a three-game losing streak, the Baltimore Ravens sat at 9-2 and had a commanding lead in the division. It seemed as if the only way they could not win the division is if the team practically fell apart. Unfortunately, that happened and now the Ravens are sitting on thin ice as the Cincinnati Bengals are riding on a late season charge that could put them on top of the division.

The Steelers saw a similar collapse after upsetting the Ravens in week 13, losing their next two and now sit on the verge of being eliminated from the playoffs completely. With a loss this week to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Steelers will be removed from playoff contention, putting eight in the loss column for the first time since 2006. For the Steelers to take the division, they’ll need to win out and have the Ravens lose out. Not an impossible scenario given the recent play of the Ravens but an uncharacteristic position for the Steelers to be in this late during the season.

The Bengals are the biggest surprise at this point. Somehow, they were able to survive a four-game slide and win five of their next six to give them the sixth seed if the season ended today. With their two remaining games against divisional opponents in the Steelers and Ravens respectively, the Bengals control their own destiny when it comes to making the playoffs. Simply beat the Steelers this week and they’re in. To take the division, win out while the Ravens lose out.

In all of these scenarios, one constant remains, the Ravens need to lose out to give up the AFC North. While they already clinched at least a wild card spot, the Ravens simply cannot continue to self-destruct during these last two games. Win one more game and Baltimore will get a home playoff game for the second consecutive year. This will be no simple task as both the New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals are quite formidable opponents.

The path is clear, but if we’ve learned anything from the Ravens during the past three weeks, it’s that nothing is as easy as it sounds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

 

Hot off the street

Ravens Notes And Eye Opening Stats Through Week 2

With the results of week two set in stone and all thirty-two teams looking ahead to week three, let's take a look at a few key notes and stats of the still young 2014 season along with a couple of sta...read more

Two-Minute Drill: Week 3

While it's still a bit too early to start evaluating teams, trends are beginning to form. Philadelphia looks like a good team but they need to break their habit of getting behind early. San Francis...read more

FANTASY LINKS: Will Baltimore Native Ever Break Out?

Is a Breakout Ever Going to Come for Tavon Austin? So far this season, Tavon Austin has 5 total points and was injured in the first quarter of St. Louis' game in Tampa Bay. numberFire writer, Joe R...read more

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: O-Line Getting it Done!

Reality:  The Ravens are 1-1. Perception: So far, so good. The Ravens were flat in the first half of game 1 against the Bengals, but came close to a come-from-behind win. The Bengals are better t...read more

TALE OF THE TAPE: Zuttah’s Noticeable Presence

Through two games for the Baltimore Ravens, other than red zone efficiency there's been little to complain about offensively. Quarterback Joe Flacco appears to be growing in Gary Kubiak's offense, ...read more

View More