The Ravens missed a chance to take a strong hold on the AFC North.
But they certainly aren't out of the chase after Sunday's tough-to-swallow 27-24 loss in Cincinnati.
At the midway point of the season, the rough-and-tumble AFC North is still wide open.
"We definitely played ourselves into position to compete for the AFC North championship," Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday.
"We find ourselves in position, obviously, to compete for a playoff berth, which is the ultimate goal in terms of the bottom line. We want to get in the tournament first, then win the division next, then win the conference and then win it all. That's what we're shooting for. At 5-3, we're in position to do that."
Here are the AFC North standings:
- Cincinnati Bengals – 4-2-1
- Baltimore Ravens – 5-3
- Pittsburgh Steelers – 5-3
- Cleveland Browns – 4-3
While Cincinnati would hold the head-to-head division tiebreaker over the Ravens if the two teams were to finish with the same record, that's highly unlikely because of the Bengals' tie. The Ravens have only finished with a tie once (against Philadelphia in 1997) in franchise history.
So it's a race for the highest winning percentage, and right now, the Ravens are tied with the Steelers with a chance to pull ahead this Sunday.
On the flip side, if the Ravens lose at Heinz Field Sunday and the Browns beat the Buccaneers (1-6), the Ravens could return to Baltimore Monday in last place in the division. The Ravens could go from first to last in two weeks.
The AFC North is making a solid case for being the best division in football this year. The division has the highest collective winning percentage in the league (.616), has the most wins (18), and is the only division without a losing team (or even one at .500).
The Ravens have two more division games remaining, starting in six days in Pittsburgh and then in Week 17 at home against the Browns.
"The main thing is we continue to improve," Harbaugh said. "We're playing a great football team [Steelers], obviously by the way they played last week. It's our rival. It's there. All the things that go into that game are going to be – just like this last game – all those things are at stake."
Harbaugh was asked whether it's more difficult to move on after a tough loss like the Ravens suffered in Cincinnati.
"That's a fair question, but I don't take stock in that," he said. "It doesn't matter, it's not important – nobody cares. So, we have to move on and go play."
Last week, the Ravens were the ones coming into Cincinnati hot while the Bengals had struggled over their previous three games. This week, Baltimore will come in hungry after a loss while the Steelers pulled off a big 51-34 victory over the Colts.