Ravens fall 2 1/2 games back of Bengals

For the third straight week, the Baltimore Ravens lost ground to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North standing. This time, it happened when the Ravens weren't even playing.

The Bengals' 49-9 rout of the New York Jets on Sunday increased their lead to 2 1/2 games over the second-place Ravens, who are on their bye. The two-time defending division champion Ravens (3-4) have plenty of work to do over the next nine weeks, which includes two meetings with the surging Bengals (6-2).

It was just the beginning of this month when the Ravens and Bengals were tied atop the division with a 3-2 record. Baltimore has since lost two straight while Cincinnati's winning streak has grown to four games.

With the way the AFC is shaping up, the Ravens have a better shot at clinching a wild-card spot. Baltimore remains one game behind the San Diego Chargers (4-3) for the AFC's sixth and final postseason spot. Only six of the 16 teams in the AFC currently have winning records.

The Ravens are now alone in second place in the AFC North. The Cleveland Browns fell to 3-5 after losing at Kansas City, and the Pittsburgh Steelers dropped to 2-5 after struggling once again in Oakland.

Baltimore plays next Sunday at Cleveland, where the Ravens haven't lost since 2007.