With Sunday’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens are in the driver’s seat in the AFC North.
They have a two-game lead in the division with six games to play, and are 8-2 for the first time under Head Coach John Harbaugh. The Ravens still trail the Houston Texans in the AFC West, but a strong finish to the season could put the them in position for home field advantage and a first-round bye in the postseason.
Here’s a look at the current AFC standings, if the season were to end today:
- Houston Texans (9-1, AFC South Winner)
- Baltimore Ravens (8-2, AFC North Winner)
- New England Patriots (7-3, AFC East Winner)
- Denver Broncos (7-3, AFC West Winner)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4, Wild Card)
- Indianapolis Colts (6-4, Wild Card)
There is still a lot of football left to be played, and here’s a closer look at each team and the road they have ahead to finish the regular season:
Houston Texans (9-1)
@ New England
Overall Review: The Texans control their own destiny for a first-round bye and home field advantage throughout the postseason, but that won’t come easy. They have four of their final six games against teams that currently have winning records, and the toughest matchup is the Monday Night Football showdown on the road against Tom Brady and the Patriots in Week 14.
Denver Broncos (7-3)
@ Kansas City
Overall Review: The Broncos might just be the hottest team in the NFL right now, and they appear to be on the rise. Peyton Manning has led his group to five straight victories, which have all come by at least a 7-point margin. Manning has shaken off the rust after not playing last year and he is right in the thick of the MVP conversation. The Broncos don’t have a difficult schedule down the stretch, and their toughest game is the Week 14 matchup in Baltimore. That game against the Ravens could end up being for a first-round bye.
New England Patriots (7-3)
@ New York Jets
Overall Review: The Patriots are coming off their most convincing win of the season where they took down the Colts 59-24. New England is riding a four-game winning streak after starting the season 3-3. The Patriots have some tough matchups down the stretch against the Texans and 49ers, but they have the luxury of playing both those games in Foxboro. The Patriots have a stronghold in the AFC East, but they will be looking to secure at least one home playoff game with a strong finish to the season.
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4)
Overall Review: The Steelers have a difficult six weeks to finish the season, especially if their quarterbacks continue to go down. Starter Ben Roethlisberger is out indefinitely with rib and shoulder injuries, and backup Byron Leftwich is also out after suffering a rib injury against the Ravens. That leaves the Steelers with Charlie Batch for at least this week’s game against the Cleveland Browns. The Steelers will then face the Ravens in a critical game in Week 13 at M&T Bank Stadium, where the Ravens haven’t lost since the 2010 season. In addition to a tough game against the Ravens, the Steelers also have to play Dallas and Cincinnati – teams that will likely still by vying for playoff spots until the end of the season.
Indianapolis Colts (6-4)
Overall Review: The Colts have been one of the surprise teams of the year, playing inspired football after Head Coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia earlier in the season. The Colts have put themselves in a favorable position, but Sunday’s lopsided loss to the Patriots showed that they still have room to climb before competing with the AFC’s elite. The Colts have some tough games down the stretch, including two with the Texans , and they will have to finish strong to fend off wild card challengers like the Bengals or Jets.