AFC Playoff Picture: Ravens, Bengals battling for AFC North crown, Steelers' only aim is 6th seed

USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh's Week 15 loss to Dallas eliminated them from the suddenly exciting AFC North title race, and set sites on the sixth seed in the 2012 playoffs.

The bottom fell out of the Baltimore Ravens.

The team that previously held a commanding three-game lead over Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the AFC North has seen that lead shrink to one after being dismantled by the AFC West champion Denver Broncos in Week 15.

Cincinnati's victory over Philadelphia moved them within one game of the Ravens, with two to play.

The Bengals are in Pittsburgh in Week 16 (a win eliminates the Steelers from playoff contention) and they host the Ravens in Week 17.

Baltimore clinches the AFC North with a win over the Giants in Week 16, but wins are seemingly hard to come by now. The move to replace offensive coordinator Cam Cameron with Jim Caldwell didn't produce positive results after one game, calling into question why the Ravens made a move with three games left in the regular season.

They still have plenty of time to figure things out, as the Ravens qualified for the playoffs with the Steelers' loss at Dallas, but they used to be in contention for a first-round bye. Now, it appears as if they'll be hosting the AFC's fifth-seed, likely the Indianapolis Colts, in the first round.

If Cincinnati defeats both Pittsburgh and Baltimore, and the Ravens lose to the Giants, they win the AFC North, and likely grab the four-seed.

New England's loss to San Francisco in Week 15 bumped them behind Denver for the race for the two-seed. Denver takes the two-seed if they win out. The Patriots have the advantage of having defeated Denver earlier this year, so if the Broncos and Patriots tie in record, New England gets the first round bye.

Houston has a one-game lead on the Broncos for the AFC's top seed.


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