AFC North: 2012 Week 16 Wrap-ups

Wrap-up: Ravens 33, Giants 14

December, 23, 2012

My thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens' 33-14 victory over the New York Giants:

What it means: Making quick work of the defending Super Bowl champion Giants, the Ravens (10-5) clinched their second straight AFC North title for the first time in franchise history. That means the Ravens assured themselves of hosting their first playoff game. Baltimore ended its three-game losing streak by taking its frustrations out on the Giants. The Ravens rolled to a 24-7 halftime lead and finished with a season-high 533 yards of total offense. Baltimore can still move up to the No. 3 seed if it wins at Cincinnati next Sunday and the Patriots lose at home to Miami.

Flacco flourishes: The up-and-down season for Joe Flacco continues. He ripped apart the 27th-ranked pass defense, throwing for 309 yards and two touchdowns. He had a hand in three first-half touchdowns: scoring passes to Torrey Smith and Ray Rice and a 1-yard run. This is the same Flacco who had two turnovers in each of the previous three losses.

Getting the ball to Rice: Jim Caldwell found a way to put the ball in the hands of Rice in his second game as offensive coordinator. Rice ran for 107 yards and caught six passes for 51 yards and a touchdown. This was the 17th career 100-yard game for Rice. Backup Bernard Pierce added 123 yards rushing as the ground game totaled a season-high 224 yards.

Controlling the ball: The best way the Ravens' offense can help its banged-up defense is controlling the ball. The Ravens dominated time of possession, holding onto the ball for 39 minutes, 21 seconds. The key was extending drives. The Ravens converted 11 of 18 third downs (61 percent).

What's next: The Ravens end the regular season at the Cincinnati Bengals, who wrapped up the No. 6 seed on Sunday by beating the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Wrap-up: Broncos 34, Browns 12

December, 23, 2012

Here are my thoughts on the Cleveland Browns' 34-12 loss at the Denver Broncos:

What it means: The Browns are packing it in for coach Pat Shurmur, losing the past two weeks by a combined 39 points. Cleveland fell to 5-10, which is the ninth time in 10 years that the Browns have recorded double-digit losses. The Browns are now 1-6 on the road. Denver (12-3) won its 10th straight game.

Top picks injured: As the season continues to end on a sour note, the Browns watched their top two picks, running back Trent Richardson and quarterback Brandon Weeden, leave the game with injuries. Richardson got his left leg rolled up on during Cleveland's final (and meaningless) drive. He's getting X-rays for a possible broken ankle. Weeden was knocked out of the game with a right shoulder injury in the third quarter, when Von Miller slammed him to the ground. Weeden told reporters after the game that he's fine.

More records for Richardson: Before leaving with that late injury, Richardson surpassed Jim Brown's franchise rookie rushing record with 53 yards on nine carries. That raised Richardson's season total to 950. Brown's mark of 947 was in a 12-game season in 1957.

Tough day for Brown: The Browns were down 14-3 by the second quarter, and cornerback Sheldon Brown had to be frustrated. Despite good coverage, Brown was beaten for touchdowns by Demaryius Thomas (22 yards) and Eric Decker (10 yards) in the first half. Then, before halftime, Brown was knocked out of the game with a concussion after colliding with Brandon Stokley. This depletes an already banged-up secondary.

McCoy gets some work: Backup quarterback Colt McCoy got his most playing time of the year and took advantage of it. McCoy produced the Browns' only touchdown drive of the game, moving them 80 yards on 10 plays. He converted a fourth-and-5 with a swing pass to Richardson and then hit Greg Little for a 6-yard touchdown pass. McCoy was 9-of-17 for 79 yards, and Weeden was 12-of-19 for 104 yards.

What's next: The Browns wrap up their season at Pittsburgh.