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With the Ravens now sitting in second place in AFC North, Sunday is a must win vs. Bengals

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NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers were given a gift last night when Indianapolis Colts Pro Bowl quarterback Andrew Luck was unable to play as he is under concussion protocol. The Steelers capitalized on Luck’s absence and routed the Colts 28-7 on Thanksgiving. The Steelers improve to 6-5 and are currently in first place in the AFC North while the Baltimore Ravens are now second in the AFC North with a 5-5 record.

The Ravens take on the Bengals this Sunday which is a team that the Ravens have struggled with in recent memory losing each of the last five matchups. If there ever is a week for the Ravens to end that losing streak against the Bengals, it would be this one considering that wide receiver A.J. Green is likely out due to a hamstring injury he suffered last Sunday. Green has tormented the Ravens time and time again.

So the Ravens, like the Steelers with the absence of Luck, may be given a gift this week since it is unlikely that Green will play this Sunday as he is dealing with a hamstring injury. The Ravens can’t afford to go 5-6 on the season for a couple of reasons.

Number one, the Ravens have a tough schedule ahead with the following teams in order after Sunday’s game against the Bengals:

Coming out of this schedule with a 9-7 record overall gives the Ravens some hope to clinch the division. Anything less than that and the Ravens are more than likely sitting at home despite the down year the AFC North is having as a whole.

The second reason why the Ravens can’t afford to go 5-6 is because with the way the AFC playoff standings look right now, the Ravens little to no shot of being an AFC Wild Card team. If the season ended today, the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs would hold the fifth and sixth AFC Wild Cards spots respectively. Both teams currently have a 7-3 record which is two games better than the Ravens.

With the inconsistency that the Ravens have shown this season, it is hard to believe that the team could make up some ground to the Broncos and Chiefs going forward. Simply put, a win Sunday against the Bengals gives the Ravens some breathing room. A loss on Sunday puts a lot more pressure on the Ravens go to steal a win on the road against the Patriots and/or the Steelers.