By Jeff Zrebiec
The Baltimore Sun
11:11 AM EST, December 17, 2012
Having already clinched a playoff berth, the Ravens could secure a second straight AFC North crown with a victory over the New York Giants Sunday afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Ravens' lead in their division was cut to one game after yesterday's 34-17 loss to the Denver Broncos. That result came three days after the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Philadelphia Eagles to improve to 8-6 on the season. Losers of three straight, the Ravens are 9-5.
However, any one victory for the Ravens over their next two games will give them the division crown and no worse than the fourth seed in the AFC playoffs. The fourth seed would guarantee them a first-round home game against one of the two wild-card teams.
The only way the Ravens would lose control of the division is if they lose their final two games and either Cincinnati or the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7) win both of their remaining games. The Bengals and Steelers play this Sunday.
A Ravens' victory over the desperate Giants coupled by a Bengals' loss to an also desperate Steelers team would essentially make the Ravens' Week 16 game against the Bengals insignificant for the Ravens.
That's because if the Ravens beat the Giants and lose to the Bengals, the best-case scenario for Cincinnati would be tying the Ravens atop the division with a 10-6 record. However, the Ravens would win the tiebreak in that scenario.
The two teams would split the head-to-head matchups, sending the tiebreak to the next criteria, which is division record. The Ravens can't finish with worse than a 4-2 record in the AFC North. Even if they win their final two games, the Bengals would finish with a 3-3 divisional mark.
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