AFC North: Baltimore, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh Vying for Crown

Kyle Oland@@kyleolandCorrespondent IIDecember 18, 2012

AFC North: Baltimore, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh Vying for Crown

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    With just two games remaining in the regular season, the AFC North is still up for grabs—and the way this season has played out, predicting the winner is anybody’s guess.

    Baltimore (9-5) currently holds a one game advantage over Cincinnati (8-6), with Pittsburgh (7-7) two games out. The regular season finale between the Ravens and Bengals could very well determine the AFC North winner.

    Here are the remaining games and scenarios for the Ravens, Bengals and Steelers.

Baltimore Ravens

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    Current record: 9-5

    Remaining schedule: Week 16 – New York Giants, Week 17 – at Cincinnati Bengals

    Outlook: After losing its third straight game on Sunday, Baltimore’s season is spiraling downhill fast. Injuries have taken a toll on the Ravens defense with four starters missing Sunday’s game against Denver.

    Despite the mounting losses, Baltimore was still able to clinch a playoff berth this week. A first-round bye for Baltimore is non-existent, so the next best thing for this team is winning the AFC North.

    Baltimore can clinch a division title this weekend with a win against the Giants and a Cincinnati loss, since they will win the division even if they lose to Cincinnati the following week.

    However, Baltimore’s downfall over the past three weeks increases the probability that its matchup against Cincinnati will be for the AFC North title. 

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Current record: 8-6

    Remaining schedule: Week 16 – at Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 17 – Baltimore Ravens

    Outlook: The Bengals finish the season with consecutive games within the division. They essentially must win out to have a chance at winning the AFC North. A Baltimore loss this week opens the door for the Bengals.

    If Baltimore and Cincinnati win this week, and then Cincinnati beats Baltimore next week, the Ravens would win the division off a better division record.

    Of the three teams vying for the division title, the Bengals are the hottest, having won five of its last six. A win Sunday against the Steelers will be the first step in Cincinnati’s chase for a division crown. 

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Current record: 7-7

    Remaining schedule: Week 16 – Cincinnati Bengals, Week 17 – Cleveland Browns

    Outlook: The chances of Pittsburgh winning the AFC North are slim. The Steelers must first win out to have a chance, while getting two losses from the Ravens as well.

    If that were to happen, both the Steelers and Ravens would end the season at 9-7, giving Pittsburgh the division because of the tie-breaking procedures. The Steelers would have a better head-to-head win percentage, giving them the title.