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After getting little wild-card help, Ravens need to win tonight to stay in playoff position

Ravens coach John Harbaugh made it clear last week that neither he nor his players were consumed by the weekly results of the other AFC wild-card contenders. Entering this past week in possession of the sixth and final wild-card spot, the Ravens knew they'd be fine as long as they kept winning.

After a week of relatively surprising results among the wild-card contenders, the Ravens (5-5) also now know that they'll need to beat the Houston Texans (4-6) tonight on "Monday Night Football" to stay in playoff position.

The Buffalo Bills' upset victory over the reeling, yet AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday puts them, at least temporarily, back in the second wild-card spot with a 6-5 record. The Ravens would leapfrog them tonight with a victory because they have a better conference record than Buffalo.

The Ravens didn't get much help elsewhere over the past five days either. The Tennessee Titans, who started the week as the fifth seed, beat the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday to improve to 7-4 and take over first place in the AFC South on Sunday with the Jacksonville Jaguars losing to the Arizona Cardinals. The Jaguars (7-4) hold the fifth seed.

The Cincinnati Bengals (5-6) beat the Cleveland Browns to inch closer to the Ravens and move into the eighth spot. The Los Angeles Chargers dominated the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving for their fifth win in seven games, and after starting 0-4, they're now 5-6 with a relatively easy schedule the rest of the way.

The Oakland Raiders (5-6) also got a win over the Denver Broncos and remain in the playoff hunt.

Obviously, the New England Patriots (9-2) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-2) are going to be in the playoffs. But after them, the AFC has two seven-win teams, two six-win teams, four five-win teams and three four-win teams.

It's a mass of mediocrity and the Ravens need to keep pace with a win tonight.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jeffzrebiecsun

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