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Bengals loss gives Ravens even more hope moving forward

Cincinnati Bengals v New York Giants Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals entered its Monday night matchup with the New York Giants desperately needing a victory to keep pace within the AFC playoff race.

That didn’t happen, as a late collapse by the Bengals offense put the game out of reach for them, and put Cincinnati at 3-5-1 to this point in the season. Many believed that the Bengals would be able to get over the losses of offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, and tight end Tyler Eifert to a degree, and some of their role playing receivers, but it appears that those losses may have in effect buried them in 2016.

This of course gives even more hope to the division leading Baltimore Ravens which came out of Thursday night football with a record of 5-4, and in first place in the AFC North. With the Bengals Monday night blunder and the Pittsburgh Steelers heartbreaking loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, the Ravens now hold sole possession of first place within the division.

With the Bengals dropping this game to big blue, if the Ravens weren’t already in the driver’s seat for the division, then the door is now wide open for them to climb into it. Make no mistake about it, the Steelers still pose a threat as competition for first place; they have a manageable schedule moving forward, including two games against Cleveland which should already count for two wins at this point.

However if the Ravens can just manufacture a bit more offense and allow its defense and special teams to continue to receive top billing, then there is no reason that the Ravens shouldn’t be viewed as a legitimate playoff contender. The Ravens schedule moving forward is difficult, with two matchups against Cincinnati, a Christmas day game at Heinz field, and Monday night football in Foxboro against the juggernaut New England Patriots all looming large in the Ravens quest to win the AFC North.

A wildcard spot actually seems less likely with the rugged AFC West all but guaranteed to lock up three playoff positions, so it is critical that the Ravens play well in its remaining in division contests. Already 3-0 within AFC North play, the Ravens next three games are against dangerous opponents which will prove what kind of team they Ravens really are.

Fans will have to wait a bit for those to play out though, as the Ravens now head to Dallas to take on the hottest team in football. Cowboys young guns in quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott have been playing like anything but rookies, and the high flying offense will prove to be a tough matchup for a Ravens defense which has performed very well this season.

If the Ravens defense can manage to contain the Cowboys offense even a little bit in Arlington on Sunday, then the onus will be on the Ravens offense to make a few plays to win the game and widen the gap between Baltimore and the rest of the division.

A win against a red hot America’s team should make the Ravens confident about its ability to beat anybody, and its chances of winning the AFC North.