AFC Playoff Scenarios: Ravens, Steelers Still Battling For AFC North Title

Though both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens have clinched playoff berths, both teams also have plenty to play for in the final week of the 2011 NFL season. The Ravens and Steelers could win the AFC North and earn the No. 1 seed in the AFC, and could also find themselves looking at three road games en route to a Super Bowl.

The Ravens have the inside track on the AFC North, at least: with a win over the Cincinnati Bengals, or a loss by the Steelers to the Cleveland Browns, they clinch the divisional title and no worse than the AFC's No. 2 seed. For them to claim the No. 1 seed, they must win and have the New England Patriots lose to the Buffalo Bills. Baltimore cannot fall lower than the No. 2 seed as the AFC North champion, even with a loss, because the Ravens would hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Houston Texans if both teams were 11-5.

Likewise, the Ravens' sweep of and head-to-head tiebreaker over the Steelers means that Pittsburgh must win or tie and have the Ravens lose to claim the AFC North and the No. 2 seed. Pittsburgh could be the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a win and losses by both the Patriots and Ravens, but can't earn lower than the No. 2 seed as the AFC North champion, because the Steelers would have to be 12-4 or 11-4-1 to win the division, and that's better than Houston's best possible final record or 11-5.

The Ravens and Steelers are also playing to avoid the No. 5 seed. Whichever of the two teams does not win the AFC North will earn that seeding, and must travel to play the AFC West champion in the first round of the 2011 NFL playoffs.

For more on the Ravens, visit Baltimore Beat Down. For more on the Steelers, visit Behind the Steel Curtain.

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