Here are some responses from our AFC North inbox:
Harlan from Dallas, TX writes: I think the Ravens have a better than decent shot at making the wild card. One constant they have had with John Harbaugh as coach is beating teams with losing records, and all three of their upcoming opponents fit that bill. Denver, for example, is one game ahead of Baltimore. But they have a road coming against Philadelphia, which will be a likely loss for the Broncos. And if the Broncos and Ravens finish tied, the Ravens get the nod because of their 30-7 defeat of Denver several weeks ago.
Dave from San Diego, CA via Baltimore writes: Yes, James, I do believe the Bengals and Ravens can both make the postseason. The Ravens’ problem all year has been consistency, but I think with the Detroit victory we may have locked some things in, especially knowing we have depth with all the backups filling in nicely. With hopefully a healthy Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs, I firmly believe we can win out, especially in Pittsburgh. This team finally has that monkey off its back and that goes a long way, in my opinion. Go Ravens!
Big Bob from Baltimore writes: If the stars and the moon aligned in the North East quadrant at 23 1/2 degree tilt, the Ravens will be a lock for the playoffs. With that being said, the Ravens have a puncher’s chance of making the playoffs considering the Broncos, Jaguars, Dolphins and Jets all have tougher schedules. The only legit team left to play is the Steelers, which will probably be the toughest game all year for the Ravens.
Ryan from Ellicott City, MD writes: The Ravens will grab the sixth and final seed after winning their last three. The Bears and Raiders are easy wins. We'll then go into Heinz Field and unleash hell, Baltimore style (a.k.a. WINNING). Jacksonville will lose their next two opening the door for the Ravens. I'll even go one step further: The Ravens will then go into Cincy on Wild Card Weekend and defeat the Bengals, extending their playoff win drought.
Saxxin from Baltimore writes: The Steelers game will determine if they get in or not. The Ravens should beat both the Bears and Raiders (JaMarcus Russell is their QB again) with little problem. As long as they don't beat themselves with stupid penalties, those two games should be a lock. If the Ravens beat the Steelers they get in. If they lose they can still get in but it doesn't look good.
Kevin from Chesapeake, Va. writes: To make the playoffs this season the Ravens are being asked to do something they haven't done this season: Win four consecutive games. The inconsistencies and undisciplined nature of this team has led to a 4-6 record in their past 10 games. Now they have to win out to advance. Are they capable of changing their character in the final three games? The trend says NO.
SC Raven Fan from Greenville, SC writes: The Ravens do not lose to struggling teams since Joe Flacco's debut in 2008. It will be interesting to see how they handle the Steelers in two weeks, but the 2 games against Chicago and Oakland are wins. The Steelers will be in a “spoiler” mood when they host the Ravens. If they win, the Ravens will then pin their hopes on the Steelers “spoiling” Miami's hopes in week 17. If the Ravens win the next three, they may face a successive year where they meet a division rival that beat them twice in the regular season.
Jason Chaillou from Abingdon, Maryland writes: Most of the Ravens fans I know don't want them to make the playoffs. If the undisciplined, sloppy Ravens that we've seen most weeks this year show up that first week in the playoffs, it will be a long day for us fans. If by some chance the Ravens that beat up on the Broncos show up, then I think we'd fancy our chances with anyone.
(Editor’s note: What kind of Ravens fans do you run with, Jason?)
David from Fontainebleau writes: I’m a Bengals fan, so my take on the “Thought of the Day” is I hope not. Nothing against Baltimore. On the contrary, I hope they don't make the playoffs because when I look at the wild-card contenders, I think the Ravens are the most dangerous. The way teams are playing at the moment, I would much rather see the Bengals face the Broncos, Jaguars, Jets, or Dolphins. So is Baltimore deserving of the playoff spot? I think they are. Do I want to see them get it? No, thank you.
Phillip Buchy from Newport, KY writes: The Ravens will make the playoffs. It's the Bengals who won't! I have been a die-hard Bengals fan all my life, and mark my words, this team is poised to implode down the stretch. And to end the debate, they CAN'T throw deep!
Kovacs from Santa Monica writes: The schedule certainly breaks right for the Ravens to snag a wildcard spot. That's huge. In all reality it still comes down to beating the Steelers in Pitt. As an AFC North fan not affiliated with Baltimore or Pittsburgh, I'm torn as to whether I’d rather see two AFC North teams in the playoffs or whether I'd rather see Pitt wreck the Ravens season.
AFC North Final Word
James Walker: Winning three in a row is difficult in the NFL, but that's the position Baltimore put itself in. Overall, Baltimore's schedule is favorable and that gives the team a good chance to make the playoffs. But the Steelers game in Week 16 is extremely dangerous. Despite Pittsburgh losing five in a row, I expect the Steelers to get up for this game and the Ravens to be underdogs on the road. And although this year's playoffs would be a lot more interesting for the division if two AFC North teams got in, right now I'm leaning against Baltimore sweeping Pittsburgh in this great rivalry. No sweep, no playoffs.