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After taking care of business in Cleveland, Ravens have the look of a postseason contender

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Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens have been on a roller coaster ride all season, complete with ups from dominant wins over the Bengals, Dolphins, Packers and Lions, as well as downs following losses to the Jaguars, Bears and Titans. In Week 15, the Browns presented their own set of challenges as a team with a few favorable individual matchups and motivation to snap a season long losing streak. In the end, the Ravens took care of business like a playoff team must.

A questionable decision to go for a touchdown on 4th-and-goal swung momentum to the home team and allowed Cleveland to stake a 7-3 lead. Baltimore answered with an 11-play touchdown march on the next possession. Then the Ravens increased their lead to 17-7 with second quarter 33-yard strike to Ben Watson, and never looked back.

It was another balanced team win. The offense converted 44-percent of their third downs, maintained possession for almost 37 minutes, allowed just one sack and did not turn the ball over. The defense did their part as well, increasing their league leading total to 33 by generating four more takeaways and holding Cleveland under 280 yards of total offense.

Perhaps most encouraging was the play of several maligned Ravens. Quarterback Joe Flacco, linebacker C.J. Mosley and safety Tony Jefferson, three players who have received plenty of criticism this season, each turned in efficient, responsible performances. Mike Wallace, Buck Allen, Anthony Levine, Patrick Onwuasor, Matthew Judon and Za’Darius Smith also stood out, the quality depth on the Ravens roster has become a major asset down the stretch.

Since the Week 10 bye, Baltimore has won four of five games with a combined plus-70 point differential. Regardless of the Browns record, a comfortable intra-division victory on the road should always be appreciated. John Harbaugh and his coordinators have the Ravens playing confident and focused football heading into the holidays.

A ten win season is within clear sight, as home games against the bottom dwelling Colts and listless Bengals remain. Importantly, the Ravens have proven on multiple occasions this season they are fully capable of soundly defeating subpar teams. Precisely as legitimate postseason contenders should.