Baltimore Ravens: 7 Keys to Winning AFC North

Austen E. Marshell@@unlimitedcrtnzCorrespondent IDecember 16, 2011

Baltimore Ravens: 7 Keys to Winning AFC North

0 of 7

    Depending on your style of football, the AFC North is probably the best division in the NFL.  Although the Baltimore Ravens are 10-3, they cannot afford to lose any of their remaining games if they want home field advantage in the playoffs this year. 

    The Ravens face an away game Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.  Baltimore then plays at home against the Cleveland Browns and away against the Cincinnati Bengals to end the season. 

    The Chargers have won two straight after losing six in a row and will surely test the Ravens.  This will be a challenge that is accepted by Baltimore as they feel they are legitimate Super Bowl contenders on both sides of the football this year. 

    Ray Lewis is set to return after a four game absence and the Ravens would love to ride a winning streak into the playoffs.  Time to show and prove. 

Receivers Need to Be Tough and Reliable

1 of 7

    The receiving corps need to be tough both mentally and physically.  They must make catches and be reliable. 

    Torrey Smith has played beyond Coach John Harbaugh and the coaching staffs expectations.  Anquan Boldin is always ready for the big games.  Lee Evans plays hard. 

    This group must come down with all the catchable balls and can't be afraid to hit the middle.  Whatever they have to do as a group, they need to make it happen. 

    With the crop of potential teams in this year's playoffs and the remaining three games, it won't get any easier.  

Haloti Ngata and the Defensive Line

2 of 7

    There isn't a weak link in the Raven defense.  As long as the defensive line can continue the heated pressure they give to quarterbacks and stuff the run, offenses won't be able to move the chains. 

    This will keep the sometimes sluggish Raven offense in great field position.

The Ground Crew

3 of 7

    The Ravens have always been about the ground game and Ray Rice is a lethal weapon out the backfield. 

    Rice blocks well and has decent speed with excellent cuts, field vision and potential for big gains at anytime. 

    Rice runs the screen well, catches out the backfield and doesn't turn the ball over.

    Rice is a solidified back in the NFL and can carry the Raven offense when called upon. 

Stick Together

4 of 7

    There is a large majority that thinks the Ravens can't get it done.

    Baltimore needs to stick together as a unit and keep the us-against-the-world attitude. 

    The coaching staff, special teams, offense and defense know what the next few weeks can bring. 

    Stick to the game plan and make it happen.

Defensive or Special Teams Touchdowns

5 of 7

    Whether its Ed Reed on a pick six or Lardarius Webb on a punt return.

    Big plays and touchdowns like this can change the momentum of a game.

Flacco Taking Command

6 of 7

    Joe Flacco needs to have a commanding presence in crucial moments. 

    The Ravens offense can't hope to score.  Baltimore needs to know they're going to score.

Energy of Ray Lewis

7 of 7

     Ray Lewis can inspire his team with words.

    His body language can inspire the whole stadium.

    As he once said in classic fashion, "you can't hurt this!  I'm a machine jerk!"