It doesn't get much better for Baltimore Ravens fans than a Thanksgiving night win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. With the victory, the Ravens jumped into the second AFC wild-card spot and would be in the playoffs if they started today.
With a challenging last three games of the regular season, Baltimore needs to make sure it wins its Week 14 home game against the lowly Minnesota Vikings.
Here is the important information that you need to know as we head into Week 14.
|Cincinnati Bengals||8-4||Vs. Indianapolis Colts|
|Baltimore Ravens||6-6||Vs. Minnesota Vikings|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||5-7||Vs. Miami Dolphins|
|Cleveland Browns||4-8||At New England Patriots|
While it wasn't a perfect week for the Ravens (the Cincinnati Bengals won), it was still very successful. The win against the Steelers knocked Pittsburgh a game back, and the Cleveland Browns somehow managed to lose against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Catching the Bengals for the AFC North crown will be difficult, but for right now, the Ravens are in a good position to make the playoffs.
|Wild Card 1||Kansas City Chiefs||9-3||6-3|
|Wild Card 2||Baltimore Ravens||6-6||6-4|
|6||San Diego Chargers||5-7||3-6|
|7||New York Jets||5-7||2-7|
In the race for the second wild-card spot, the Ravens have a conference record of 6-4, which is the best of all the wild-card contenders. The Miami Dolphins are the only other team with a winning conference record, but the Ravens hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over them, as well as the tiebreaker over the New York Jets.
Winning this upcoming matchup with the Minnesota Vikings will give the Ravens a small cushion for the stretch run.
There are nagging injuries on the Ravens roster, but the biggest injury news could come in the form of Dennis Pitta. The tight end could make his season debut on Sunday, but that decision will be made later in the week, according to head coach John Harbaugh.
Harbs: TE Dennis Pitta is "doing well" but team probably won't decide on whether to activate him until late in the week.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 2, 2013
Jimmy Smith suffered a concussion in that scary collision with Le'Veon Bell, but he's on track to practice on Wednesday, according to BaltimoreRavens.com.
Elvis Dumervil and Brandon Stokley also sustained injuries in the Steelers game, but they should be available for Week 14.
What Must Improve
The Ground Game
All the pieces are starting to come together for the Ravens. All the pieces, that is, except the ground game.
Joe Flacco is playing well, and the deep ball has made a triumphant return to the Baltimore offense. The defense has stepped up and is playing excellently against both the run and the pass. Special teams have also been outstanding, from Justin Tucker to Jacoby Jones.
The one thing that is really missing from the Ravens' arsenal is the running game. It's not a new development, but a mildly competent rushing attack would make the Ravens a really dangerous team.
In the past two games, Baltimore has converted one of its eight red-zone trips. The Ravens have managed to escape with wins due to their stellar defensive play, but that won't be the case against the Detroit Lions (Week 15), New England Patriots (Week 16) and Cincinnati Bengals (Week 17).
The Ravens will need touchdowns and not field goals, and they'll get the chance to practice their red-zone offense (hopefully with one of their best red-zone weapons, Pitta, back on the field).