NFL Injury News: Ravens Need Torrey Smith to Capture AFC North

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IDecember 18, 2012

With the Cincinnati Bengals surging, the Baltimore Ravens need everyone healthy for the stretch run.

That's why receiver Torrey Smith's concussion in the 34-17 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday was such disheartening news for the Ravens.

While Smith's concussion seems mild, he still needs to pass neurological exams in order to be cleared for Week 16, per the Baltimore Sun. We've seen players go down with concussions and say they would be fine for the next week, only for the medical staff to never clear them. The NFL has made it much more of a priority to monitor players' health this season.

Smith is the second-leading receiver for Baltimore this season, right behind Anquan Boldin. He's racked up 767 yards and seven touchdowns while averaging 17.4 yards per reception (third in the NFL). The speedster is Baltimore's biggest downfield threat.

While Smith hasn't done much lately, the Ravens are going to need all the firepower they can get in the next two weeks to capture the AFC North. They are 9-5, one game ahead of the Bengals, but they play the New York Giants in Week 16 and then the Bengals to finish things off.

Despite New York's ugly loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 15, we've all seen what Eli Manning is capable of. With a playoff berth apparently slipping away from his team, you can be sure Manning will be revved up for Week 16. Given the fact that the Giants have averaged 26.6 points per game this season (sixth in the NFL), it's not the most ideal scenario for Baltimore.

Then you have Cincinnati in Week 17. The Bengals have won five of their last six games. They haven't allowed more than 20 points to an opponent since Week 9 against the Broncos and the running game is rolling behind BenJarvus Green-Ellis. That's going to be an awfully tough game, especially considering it will be played in Cincinnati.

The Bengals have the Pittsburgh Steelers before facing the Ravens. Given the Steelers have lost four of their last five games, it's not hard to imagine the Bengals winning in Week 16.

Baltimore's hold on the AFC North could crumble in heart-breaking fashion this season. With the quality of the Ravens' remaining opponents, you better believe Baltimore needs all hands on deck.

 

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