And so it comes down to something pretty simple for the Ravens. If they want to win the AFC North, and not worry about anything else from an y one else, they need to just win one of their last two games.
They're already in the playoffs, but a win in their final home game will do a lot. The Ravens take on the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants this Sunday in a game that the visitors need just as badly.
Home games had been an advantage for coach John Harbaugh's team for two years until a few weeks ago. The Ravens won 15 consecutive match-ups at M&T Bank Stadium, and the team clearly played better in Baltimore than on the road. Last year, the Ravens went 9-0 at home, including a playoff win over the Texans in the AFC semifinal.
The Ravens won their first five home games this year before losing to the Steelers and then again to Denver last weekend. That puts more pressure on them this weekend against New York. The Ravens still could lose this game and win the division simply by beating the Bengals in Cincinnati in the season finale.
But a win in this game would make things a lot easier for several reasons.
It would end the three-game losing slide that's gotten the Ravens a lot of negative publicity in recent weeks. The Ravens were 9-2 at one point and looked like one of the AFC's top teams. But things have changed since then.
Now, the Ravens are dealing with a number of injuries, especially on defense, where the status of players like Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs is up in the air. That's why this home game is so important. A win in this contest gives them at least one playoff home game and some breathing room. It just won't be an easy task.