The way the Ravens have played recently, they might need some help to weed out their competition in order to win the AFC North.
The Baltimore Ravens have just lost their last two games and their final three are looking tougher than ever based on the competition. The Ravens host the Denver Broncos and New York Giants then play at the Cincinnati Bengals to end the regular season.
All three opponents are fighting for playoff spots and expect to be a real tough challenge for Baltimore each week. Based on the previous two games, nothing is going to be easy if the Ravens want to repeat as AFC North champs. They may actually need to rely on the help of their division rivals opponents in order to stake a claim to the title and a playoff invitation.
The Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers both lost yesterday and had the Ravens pulled out the victory, they would have not only clinched a playoff sport, but the AFC North title at the same time. Alas, that was not to happen and while the Ravens face three quality opponents the rest of the season, their division rivals have tough roads ahead of them as well.
That might be the difference maker in their quest for a fifth straight playoff berth, as expecting Baltimore to earn it on their own is beginning to look like a challenge the team may not be capable of achieving. The Bengals host the Ravens on the season's final weekend, although Cincinnati may only be fighting for a Wild Card spot at that point. Prior to hosting the Ravens, they must go on the road to play the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers. One loss and they are out of the race for the division title and most likely out of the playoffs.
The Steelers are done with the Ravens for the regular season but could still face them again in the first round of the playoffs. In order to do that, they would have to end the season with three straight wins. They must go to the Dallas Cowboys next weekend then host both the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns. Like the Bengals, a loss will end their division title hopes and severely damage their chances to earn a Wild Card spot.
Most likely, either the Bengals or Steelers will end up with the final Wild Card slot behind the Indianapolis Colts. Therefore, their week 16 match-up should probably decide that battle. In the meantime, while the Ravens are in control of their own fate and could still end up with the #2 seed and a first-round bye, their last two games does not give fans confidence that a season ending sweep of their final three opponents will be a reality and therefore the hope for their division rivals to trip up just as much as they have recently.