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AFC North: Baltimore and Pittsburgh Losses opens door for Cincinnati

The race for the playoffs in the AFC North tightened up over the weekend thanks to losses by both Baltimore and Pittsburgh and an opportune win for Cincinnati.

The current standings have Baltimore still in first place by a single game over Cincinnati, two games over Pittsburgh and four games over Cleveland.

At this point in the regular season, with two games left, Cincinnati has a solid chance of qualifying for the post season.

Cincinnati has won five of its last six games overall, while the Baltimore Ravens have run smack into a wall after losing for the third consecutive week. On Sunday, the Ravens were beaten soundly by the Denver Broncos 34-17.

For the past couple of weeks the Pittsburgh Steelers have struggled. They fought hard without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and now with him back in the lineup they are struggling again. The Steelers lost in overtime on Sunday to Dallas 27-24 and need help for other teams as well as defeating both Cleveland and Cincinnati to end the season to make it into the playoffs.

Cincinnati’s chances of the postseason are strong if they win. They might even be able to take the AFC North title away from the Ravens. This weekend is the biggest game of the season for both the Bengals and Steelers as they lock up head to head in Pittsburgh. If Pittsburgh can win, it would give them a great shot at the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC and the same holds true for the Bengals.

At this point, the Bengals can make the playoffs, and possibly win the AFC North title if they win their last two games. A win in Pittsburgh, would make their season ending game against Baltimore for the division title, if the Ravens lose this week to the New York Giants. Baltimore at this point holds the tiebreakers in the division, but two Cincinnati wins would change that, as one would be over the Ravens.

The Giants are losers of two straight and are now in a three way tie with Washington and Dallas for the NFC East lead, with the Redskins holding the tiebreaker at this point. The matchup between Baltimore and New York will see two teams sliding in the wrong direction looking to hold on to make an appearance in the postseason.

The race to the postseason has come down to the last two games of the season, with Baltimore in the driver’s seat, but with a difficult schedule. Baltimore takes on New York this week and Cincinnati next, while Cincinnati faces Pittsburgh his week and Baltimore the following and Pittsburgh has Cincinnati this week and Cleveland the following.

I like the Ravens and Bengals to reach the postseason, as it appears Pittsburgh has had too many injuries and too many internal problems.

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