Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Ravens Notebook: Ravens can clinch AFC North this weekend

OWINGS MILLS - With Sunday's win against the San Diego Chargers, the Baltimore Ravens can now clinch an AFC North division title as early as this weekend.

With a win against the Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend, and a Cincinnati Bengals loss on the road at San Diego, Baltimore would secure its second straight division title.

The Ravens (9-2) hold a three-game lead on Pittsburgh (6-5) and Cincinnati (6-5) for first place in the AFC North with five weeks remaining in the regular season.

With a win this weekend, the worst Baltimore could finish is 10-6. A win would also give the Ravens a head-to-head tiebreaker on the Steelers, mathematically eliminating Pittsburgh from contention for a division title. A Bengals loss, meanwhile, would mean that the best Cincinnati could finish would be 10-6 and Baltimore would own a tiebreaker on the Bengals for having a better record within the division.

The worst the Ravens can finish in the division is 4-2. The best Cincinnati can finish is 3-3.

The Texans (10-1) are the only team in the AFC with a better record than Baltimore.

The top two teams in the conference receive a first round bye in the playoffs and are guaranteed at least one home playoff game.

The Patriots (8-3), Broncos (8-3) and Colts (7-4) are the only teams in the AFC aside from Houston and the Ravens with a record better than 6-5.

Baltimore owns a head-to-head tiebreaker over New England, stemming from its 31-30 win against the Patriots in Week 3, and currently holds a better record within the conference (7-1) than both Denver (6-2) and Indianapolis (5-3).

INJURIES: Ravens coach John Harbaugh said inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (foot/ankle) and tight end Ed Dickson (sprained knee) both have a chance to play against the Steelers this weekend, although he expects both players to be limited in practice throughout the course of the week.

Both players were injured during Sunday's win against the Chargers.

ROSTER MOVE: Baltimore activated wide receiver/kick returner David Reed (knee surgery) from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and placed safety Anthony Levine (shoulder) on injured reserve.

Jacoby Jones is firmly entrenched as the Ravens' kick returner, a role Reed filled for parts of both 2010 and 2011, but Harbaugh said he expects Reed "to be a big part of special teams, probably, to start off with."

Reed was a fifth-round pick of Baltimore in the 2010 NFL draft. He's seen minimal playing time at wide receiver during his career, but has seen extensive action on special teams, even aside from just as a returner.

Harbaugh said Reed's performed "really well" on special teams since returning to practice earlier this month.

"It'll just provide us with another good football player," Harbaugh said, "and [we'll] see where we can fit him in."