Who Ravens Fans Should Root for in Week 12

Left: Pittsburgh Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth (Ben Liebenberg/NFL); Center: Tennessee Titans QB Ryan Tannehill (Mikey Owens/NFL); Tampa Bay Buccaneers S Mike Edwards (Kevin Sabitus/NFL)

The Ravens sit atop the AFC North at 7-3 and could finish the day with the best record in the conference.

In what is a tight race in the division and conference, Sunday's Week 12 slate of games will sharpen the playoff picture.

Here's who Ravens fans should be rooting for:

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (6-4)
Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS
As much as it pains Ravens fans to root for the Steelers, the Bengals are in second place in the division and already have a head-to-head win over Baltimore. They are seemingly the biggest threat as of now, as they have the best point differential (+52) in the division. With two more games against the Steelers remaining on Baltimore's schedule, the Ravens have their fate in their own hands.
Root for: Steelers

Tennessee Titans (8-3) at New England Patriots (7-4)
Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS
Nobody has a longer active winning streak than the Patriots, who took over the top spot in the AFC East with their fifth-straight victory (the Bills reclaimed the lead on Thanksgiving). The Titans are coming off an ugly home loss to the Texans, which snapped a six-game winning streak. There's two ways of looking at this from the Ravens' perspective. A Titans loss and Ravens win would put Baltimore in the No. 1 spot in the AFC with six games to go. Could Baltimore hang on for a first-round playoff bye? However, a Patriots win would put them in strong position to make the playoffs, likely meaning two postseason spots would go to the AFC East. It could be better to knock the Patriots down, especially when they have two games against the Bills and one against the Colts remaining on the schedule. The Titans have a softer close to their schedule than the Ravens, as Tennessee faces teams with a combined 18-32-1 record the rest of the way (Jaguars, Steelers, 49ers, Dolphins and Texans). Even if Baltimore takes the top spot Sunday, it would be a mighty challenge to hold onto it.
Root for: Titans

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) at Indianapolis Colts (6-5)

Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX
Led by running back Jonathan Taylor, the Colts have won three straight and five of their last six since their loss in Baltimore in Week 5, putting themselves back in the playoff picture after a slow start. They're one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now, coming off a rout of the Bills. The defending Super Bowl champion Bucs and Tom Brady will try to slow them down. The Ravens want to keep the Colts on the outside looking in.
Root for: Buccaneers

Carolina Panthers (5-6) at Miami Dolphins (4-7)
Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX
The Dolphins are still a longshot to get into the AFC playoff picture, but they've won three straight, including beating Baltimore. Better for Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey and the Panthers to put them out of it just to make sure they don't become a wild-card contender.
Root for: Panthers

Los Angeles Chargers (6-5) at Denver Broncos (5-5)
Sunday, 4:05 p.m., CBS
The AFC West is a muddled mess right now. The resurgent Chiefs lead the division at 7-4 and everybody else is in it (kind of like the AFC North). For the Ravens' sake, it's best to keep everybody around .500. Thus, it would be better for the underdog Broncos to knock off the Chargers, who are coming off a comeback win over the Steelers. A Broncos win would put three teams in the AFC West at 6-5.
Root for: Broncos

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