3 & Out: Ravens control their playoff destiny
Three-and-out with the Ravens
1. The Ravens still need road wins to make the playoffs.
The Ravens have kept their playoff hopes alive by getting back to .500 and winning two straight at home. However, they are still just 1-5 on the road. They still have not won a road game since September. The Ravens can’t finish better than 8-8 unless they win on the road. They are going to need at least one more road win. Maybe two. After the Ravens (6-6) host the Vikings at M & T Bank Stadium on Sunday, Baltimore’s final three games are tough – at Detroit, home against the Patriots, and at Cincinnati. The Ravens need to bring back a road win from Detroit or Cincinnati. If they don’t, don’t expect them to play in January.
2. Winning the AFC North looks like a long shot for the Ravens.
The Bengals (8-4) got a huge win Sunday in San Diego. That gave them a two-game cushion over the Ravens with four games remaining. All the Ravens want to do is pull within one game before they meet the Bengals in Week 17. If the Ravens do that, they can win the division by beating the Bengals in the regular season finale, and sweeping the season series. However, you would expect the Bengals to win at least one of their next three games. The Bengals host the Colts next week, visit the Steelers (Week 15), and host the Vikings (Week 16). Even if the Bengals win just one of the next three, they will be 9-6 heading into Week 17. That’s another reason why the Ravens need to keep winning. Right now, the Bengals don’t seem to be feeling the pressure. They remain in the division driver’s seat, while the Ravens still look like a wild card team at best.
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3. The Ravens need to do better against the NFC North.
So far the Ravens are 0-2 against that division, losing to both the Packers and the Bears. Now the Ravens face back-to-back games against the NFC North – Sunday’s game against the Vikings, followed by Monday Night Football (Dec. 16) at Detroit. The NFC North isn’t exactly the strongest division in the NFL. The Packers and Bears are both swooning, and the Vikings have struggled all season. But the Ravens played Green Bay when Aaron Rodgers was healthy and lost. The Ravens lost to the Bears in overtime. Another loss to the NFC North could be fatal to Baltimore’s playoff hopes.
Extra point: The last time the Ravens faced Adrian Peterson was in 2009. He rushed for 143 yards on 22 carries, and the Vikings won, 33-31. The Ravens hope to fare better against Peterson and the Vikings this Sunday.