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The Baltimore Ravens have the highest remaining strength of the schedule in the NFL, and that means a disaster for the current division leader.
The Baltimore Ravens lost their grip on the top seed in the AFC playoff picture after losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers but still at the top of the AFC North. With a record of 8-4, the team has a one-game lead over the Bengals at 7-5 with a head-to-head victory for the tiebreaker. They also have a 1.5-game lead in third-place Steelers.
AFC North is much closer than many predicted it would be at this point in the season. With five weeks left of the season and a number of important division matches left, any of these teams could take the top seed.
But with the tight division, the Ravens’ mounting damage problems, and the remaining schedule, Baltimore fans have several reasons not to be optimistic.
The Baltimore Ravens will have to play perfectly to get to the playoffs
The Ravens’ schedule is not going to be nice for them the rest of the season. Every opponent they have left this season is competitive and playing much better than the Ravens right now.
The Steelers have just beaten the Ravens, and of course, the Week 18 rematch will be in Baltimore, it’s likely to have division title implications, something a retired Ben Rothlisberger is likely to refuse to leave without. The likely freezing temperatures in that game will make Najee Harris so much more important, making this a very taboo match for Baltimore.
The other two division opponents, the Browns and Bengals, may not be as consistent or experienced as the Steelers, but they are teams that are fully capable of beating the Ravens. The Browns get their rematch with Baltimore after a farewell week, giving them a chance to overcome their injury error. The Bengals have an amazing receiving corps that can dominate the wounded secondary of the Ravens.
Outside of the division, the Ravens also have brutal fights against the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers, two Super Bowl challengers from the NFC. Both teams have an elite receiving squad, good defense and a coach who can mentally handle Jim Harbaugh.
The Ravens have overcome a number of obstacles this year and proved that many doubters were wrong. But here at the end of the season, these obstacles seem insurmountable.