Baltimore Ravens & AFC North, NFC South Making History


Nov 24, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston (12) catches a 26 yard touchdown past Baltimore Ravens free safety Terrence Brooks (31) and strong safety Matt Elam (26) during the second quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The irony of being a Baltimore Ravens fan right now is I’m actually rooting for Johnny Manziel Sunday. Cincinnati somehow continues to win and I’m really starting to stress over the playoff situation. Let’s face it, the Ravens are dangerously close to missing the playoffs for a second straight season. Who remembers the last time that happened?

The 2014 season has been a crazy one to say the least. The cross divisional matchup for the AFC North is the NFC South. The absolute best division in the league faces, by far, the worst division. And it’s making history. Heading into the final games of the regular season, for the first time, we’ve seen each team in a division go at least two games over .500 and each team in the other division fall at least two games under .500.

And it’s made for some interesting games.

The Baltimore Ravens have defeated Tampa Bay, Carolina, Atlanta, and New Orleans, sweeping the NFC South. And they are the only team to do so, as Cincinnati tied Carolina week 6 and Cleveland has yet to play the Panthers. The Pittsburgh Steelers are 2-2 against the NFC South, losing to Tampa Bay and New Orleans.

Baltimore currently resides at third in the AFC North behind Cincy and Pittsburgh. And here’s where my one-day Johnny Football bandwagon pass comes into play. The Bengals are first, the Browns are last.  Brian Hoyer has produced one touchdown in 29 possessions and the Browns are ready for a change. A Cleveland upset wouldn’t necessarily bump Cincinnati out of first place but, going from a 1.5- to a .5-game lead is significant.

The Ravens’ game plan is simple: win these final three games. To do this, the Ravens are relying on the play of Joe Flacco and the rushing attack of Justin Forsett through this home stretch. They certainly have the easiest remaining schedule of the division, but unfortunately wins aren’t quite enough and they are going to need some luck along the way as well. Pittsburgh and Cincinnati both losing is a big momentum swing.

Things have not fared as well for the lowly NFC South, although it has been equally as competitive as a division. Isn’t it strange that we may potentially see teams in the league win 10 or 11 games and miss the playoffs, while an 8-8 or 7-9 team hosts a Wild Card game? I’ve even suggested in conversation I think it would be a cool idea to maybe have the NFC South forfeit a playoff spot in favor of a team that actually won games.

The New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons are fighting for the division crown and the chance to host a Wild Card playoff game at both 5-8. And with three games left and only one game behind, Carolina shouldn’t be slept on at this point either. It really is a toss up in the division.

The Saints travel to Chicago to face the Bears, where bad clashes with bad. I honestly don’t have a prediction for that game.

The Falcons, whom I loathe, have a much more interesting game facing Pittsburgh. Another first for your beloved Brandon Suir, I will be cheering on the Falcons to defeat the Steelers. But it’s only this one occasion. I’m still a raised Saints fan here in Louisiana. Atlanta’s remaining three games are all division matchups. Lose, lose, lose is all that’s on my mind as my hatred for the Dirty Birds runs deep.

It is a history-making season for this cross division matchup between the AFC North and NFC South. Have I ranted enough yet? Well that’s the NFL for you.

Next: Bold predictions for the Ravens/Jags game