With a three-game lead on both the Steelers and Bengals, the Baltimore Ravens can essentially clinch the AFC North with a win over Pittsburgh Sunday and a loss by the Bengals to the San Diego Chargers. If the Steelers upset the Ravens, and the Bengals pick up a win, they’ll be only two games behind the Ravens. The Ravens then head to Washington to face the red-hot Redskins, followed by back-to-back home games against the Giants and Broncos. If (big if) the Bengals are able to win out going into their Week 17 game against the Ravens, it could be a defacto AFC North Championship game in Cincinnati in the regular season-finale.
That task could be even harder for the Bengals after today’s report that Ravens MLB Ray Lewis is expected to be back before the end of this season. It was previously believed he would be out for the season after he suffered a torn triceps muscle against the Cowboys. The reported target date for his return is Week 15 in an showdown of AFC elites as they host the Denver Broncos.
Given the Bengals plethora of youthful, talented players who only continue to improve every week, versus the Ravens battered and aging team that is struggling to beat seemingly every team they play now, the Bengals are in great position to put the full-court press on the Ravens heading down the stretch.