This is usually a Monday feature, but thanks to Thursday night’s game, here’s a bonus edition to lay out just where the Ravens stand with most of the NFL still to play on Sunday.
Baltimore’s win over Pittsburgh was simply massive. Huge. Gargantuan. With nine teams within two games of the one realistically available AFC wild card spot, any win is big. But one against a team tied with the Ravens in the wild card chase and for second place in the division was that much more sizable.
Before everyone in the AFC wild card cluster but themselves, the Steelers and Raiders play Sunday, the Ravens have a leg up in the race, holding a half-game lead for the conference’s sixth spot at 6-6. Baltimore has won three of four since its season-long three-game skid to get there.
That also has the Ravens within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Bengals (7-4) in the AFC North.
So what’s at stake this weekend?
Four teams remain at 5-6, a half-game behind the Ravens - the Titans, Jets, Dolphins and Chargers.
The Ravens are really a full game ahead of the Jets and Dolphins by virtue of wins over each. And New York plays at Miami on Sunday. So barring a tie, one of them will join Baltimore at 6-6.
The Titans play at the Colts (7-4) and the Chargers host the Bengals. So the Ravens will likely get a benefit of some sort from the second game - either gaining distance from the Chargers or ground on the Bengals.
The Steelers are now a game behind Baltimore at 5-7, and the Browns and Bills are another half-game back at 4-7. Cleveland hosts Jacksonville (2-9) and Buffalo hosts Atlanta (2-9).
At 4-8, the Raiders are now two games out of the wild card - and in danger of being left out of these roundups - after falling to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.
When the weekend is over, barring a Jets-Dolphins tie, there will still be multiple teams knotted for the second wild card. But that number is dwindling as the weeks go on and the squads keep playing each other.