Ravens can capture division by winning out

December, 16, 2013
12/16/13
7:00
AM ET
DETROIT -- If the Baltimore Ravens win their final three games, they will win the AFC North for a third straight season.

That scenario opened up for the Ravens when the division-leading Cincinnati Bengals lost at the Pittsburgh Steelers, 30-20, on Sunday night. The Ravens (7-6) can move to within one game of the Bengals (9-5) if they beat the Detroit Lions on "Monday Night Football."

If the Ravens win at the Bengals in the regular-season finale and both teams finish with the same record, Baltimore would win the division because of a season sweep of Cincinnati (the Ravens beat the Bengals earlier this season).

The odds are stacked against the Ravens winning out because they face division leaders in their final three games: at the Lions, home against the New England Patriots and at the Bengals. Plus, two of those games are on the road, where the Ravens are 1-5.

If the Ravens win the division, they would get a home first-round playoff game against one of the wild-card teams.

Winning out may be the only way the Ravens get into the playoffs. The Miami Dolphins (8-6) became the favorite to take the AFC's second wild-card spot after beating the New England Patriots on Sunday. The Dolphins have a good shot at winning the rest of its game because they play at the Buffalo Bills and home against the New York Jets in the final two weeks of the regular season.

The Ravens are looking to reach the playoffs for a sixth straight season. Baltimore has made the postseason every season since coach John Harbaugh was hired by the Ravens in 2008.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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