NFL playoff picture: Ravens loss opens up AFC North race

USA TODAY Sports

Losses from the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers muddy up the playoff race.

The Baltimore Ravens understood the gravity of Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos. A change at offensive coordinator was supposed to open things up for Joe Flacco and Ray Rice, allowing for a victory to wrap up the AFC North.

However, things didn't go according to plan and now, with a Pittsburgh Steelers' loss in Dallas, the playoff picture gets a lot muddier.

Win and they're in -- that's all Baltimore needed to do, and yet they couldn't. A Steelers loss did manage to clinch a playoff berth for the Ravens. Now at 9-5, the Ravens are the projected fourth seed in the AFC, still projected to win the AFC North. They're one win better than the Cincinnati Bengals who are holding the sixth seed, and the Pittsburgh Steelers at 7-7 also remain in the hunt. While John Harbaugh's team are still in the driver's seat, it's getting a lot more tenuous.

If the Ravens are unable to win out, and Cincinnati win both their games the Bengals will win the AFC North. If Baltimore finishes 1-1, and Cincinnati are 2-0, then the Ravens still win the AFC north. Here is where Pittsburgh come in: If they finish 2-0, the Bengals finish 1-1, and the Ravens finish 0-2 -- then the Steelers find a back door, and they win the AFC North based on their head-to-head with Cincinnati and Baltimore.

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