NFL playoff race 2013: Ravens three spots back in AFC postseason hunt

Marlon Brown and the Ravens aren't too far off in the race for the postseason. - Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

The Ravens have some ground to gain in the playoff race, beginning this week with a game against Cleveland.

With the NFL entering the ninth week of the season, the playoff picture is beginning to take shape.

Despite the Ravens recent issues on offense and with the run defense, they're in still in a good position to return to the postseason, even though they're 2.5 games behind the Bengals in the AFC North.

In the AFC, the current division leaders are the Chiefs (AFC West, 8-0), Bengals (AFC North, 6-2), Patriots (AFC East, 6-2) and Colts (AFC South, 5-2). With the Chiefs a game up in the AFC West, the Peyton Manning-led Broncos are currently in the first Wild Card spot at 7-1.

Behind the Broncos is a considerable drop-off, which favors a team like the Ravens. For the time being, the Chargers are penciled in for the sixth playoff spot at 4-3. The Jets, at 4-4, are seventh and the Titans, at 3-4, are eighth.

The Ravens, also 3-4, are ninth, with Tennessee holding a tiebreaker over them due to win percentage in conference games. Oakland (3-4) and Miami (3-4) are 10th and 11th, respectively, with the Ravens holding tiebreakers over them — the Raiders due to strength of victory and the Dolphins due to win percentage in conference games.

As you can see, the top five in the AFC have a great chance at reaching the playoffs due to their strong starts. The race for the final spot has a long way to go to be finalized. If Baltimore can reel off a streak of wins, it can better solidify itself in the running for it.

Plus, the AFC North title isn't out of the question yet. Two games against the Bengals still remain, though the Bengals have been awfully tough to beat lately. It's not time to for Ravens fans to concede the division just yet.

AFC playoff standings

1. Kansas City Chiefs (AFC West leader, 8-0)

2. Cincinnati Bengals (AFC North leader, 6-2)

3. New England Patriots (AFC East leader, 6-2)

4. Indianapolis Colts (AFC South leader, 5-2)

5. Denver Broncos (Wild Card No. 1 leader, 7-1)

6. San Diego Chargers (Wild Card No. 2 leader, 4-3)

--

7. New York Jets (4-4)

8. Tennessee Titans (3-4)

9. Baltimore Ravens (3-4)

10. Oakland Raiders (3-4)

11. Miami Dolphins (3-4)

12. Cleveland Browns (3-5)

13. Buffalo Bills (3-5)

14. Houston Texans (2-5)

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5)

16. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8)


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