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AFC North Down to Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens

December 6th, 2011 at 8:02 AM
By Chuck Chapman

The Cincinnati Bengals loss in Pittsburgh Sunday effectively ended their AFC North title hopes. With the regular season three-quarters of the way finished, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens sit tied atop the division. By virtue of Baltimore's sweep of the season series between the two, they hold the tie breaker advantage.

Baltimore kept pace with Pittsburgh by virtue of their 24-10 victory in Cleveland against the Browns. It was an ugly, dreary day in Cleveland and the game wasn't any better. Neither team threw the ball effectively. Colt McCoy had his second straight sub-.500 day in completion percentage. To be fair to McCoy, the rainy weather and his receivers' continued struggles holding on to the football played a big role in that. Joe Flacco wasn't any better, completing only 10 of 23 throws for 158 yards. Fortunately for Flacco, he had Ray Rice on his side. Rice ran 29 times for 204 yards and a touchdown. Ricky Williams chipped in 76 yards as the Ravens dominated on the ground and in time of possession. For the game, Baltimore totaled 290 yards on the ground while Cleveland managed only 56.

With four games left, Pittsburgh needs to pick up a game somewhere to overtake the Ravens and repeat as AFC North champs. The Steelers have two games left against Cleveland, one against St. Louis, and a trip to San Francisco. Baltimore has another matchup with the Browns, games against Indianapolis and San Diego before finishing the season in Cincinnati.

Both teams have likely playoff berths sewn up, but the division winner is likely to get at least a first round bye and both are in the running for home field advantage. 

The Ravens play host to the winless Colts this weekend while Pittsburgh and Cleveland resume their rivalry Thursday night in Pittsburgh.

Tags: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati, Cincinnati Bengals, Football, NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers

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