AFC North: rapid reaction 16

Rapid Reaction: Bengals 14, Browns 0

December, 21, 2008
Posted by's James Walker

The Battle of Ohio, as expected, was ugly and uninspiring.

In a game of AFC North cellar dwellers, the Cincinnati Bengals scored one offensive touchdown and it was still enough to beat the struggling Cleveland Browns, 14-0.

Bengals receiver Chris Henry and cornerback Leon Hall each scored a touchdown in the first half to wrap-up the fireworks for the afternoon. Cincinnati (3-11-1) has won two in a row for the first time this season, while the Browns continued their freefall to five consecutive losses.

Cleveland (4-11) hasn't scored an offensive touchdown since Nov. 17. The Browns have one more chance to end the drought next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4) in what likely will mark the last game before Cleveland makes major changes in the offseason.

Rapid Reaction: Titans 31, Steelers 14

December, 21, 2008

Posted by's James Walker

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Pittsburgh Steelers gave it a shot. But in the end, the Tennessee Titans were too energized and too sharp at home during a 31-14 victory over Pittsburgh.

The game convincingly broke a five-game winning streak for the Steelers (11-4), who are officially slotted as the No. 2 seed in the AFC. With the win, the Titans have home-field advantage throughout the postseason as they made a league-wide statement on Sunday.

The sole purpose of Pittsburgh's road trip was to get the top seed from Tennessee (13-2). But sloppy play, mental errors and an efficient Titans team proved to be major differences. The Steelers committed four turnovers that swung the game in Tennessee's favor.

With the way the seeding lines up, there's a chance these two teams could meet again in the AFC title game.

Perhaps there is still unfinished business between the two teams this season. But if that's the case, Pittsburgh and Tennessee will have to settle it in Nashville, thanks to the Titans' big win.

Rapid Reaction: Ravens 33, Cowboys 24

December, 20, 2008
Posted by's James Walker

No controversial calls, and no more scoreboard watching for potential playoff scenarios.

The Baltimore Ravens' 2008 season has come down to four simple words: Win and they're in.

Two of Baltimore's "three-headed monster" struck big in the fourth quarter of Saturday's 33-24 road win over the Dallas Cowboys (9-6). Ravens tailbacks Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain  ran for 77 and 82 yards, respectively, on back-to-back offensive plays to put the final touches on Texas Stadium and possibly the Cowboys' season.

The Ravens' duo combined for 247 rushing yards and now the team is sitting pretty. All Baltimore needs is a victory Sunday at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10) to secure the sixth seed in the AFC.

Baltimore (10-5) showed no ill effects from last week's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, which ended on a controversial touchdown. The Ravens for the most part controlled Saturday's game and led for the entire second half.

There is no doubt this is Baltimore's biggest victory of the season, particularly on the road with its playoff destiny on the line. Now the Ravens can return home in another big game at M&T Bank Stadium, where they are 5-2 this season.