OWINGS MILLS - Are the Ravens a playoff-caliber team? That's debatable.
But they are just 1½ games back of first place in the AFC North after beating the Bengals on Sunday, and they appear to have a favorable schedule during the next month.
They play the Chicago Bears this coming Sunday. The Bears announced Monday that quarterback Jay Cutler and Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman both won't play because of injuries.
So during the next four games, Baltimore will face a 5-4 Chicago team without two of its most important players and then three teams with a combined 10-17 record.
The three opponents after the Bears include the 3-6 Pittsburgh Steelers, the Geno Smith-led New York Jets and the 2-7 Minnesota Vikings.
All three of those games are at home.
That said, the Ravens did lose to the Steelers in Pittsburgh less than a month ago and remain a flawed team, especially offensively.
But they are right back in the thick of the AFC playoff picture and have a chance to significantly improve their chances of making the playoffs depending on how they fare during the next four games.