Flacco Off Balance Steelers

Ravens not a lock for the AFC North crown just yet

At 9-3, the Ravens are the only AFC division leader not currently guaranteed a playoff birth, and looking at their schedule, it's conceivable that they could still be overtaken by the Pittsburgh Steelers as the AFC North's top team. In case you're now scratching your head, hear me out.

The Ravens have a remarkably tough road ahead to round out the 2012 regular season. Baltimore goes to Washington, then host the Broncos and Giants before finally heading to Cincinnati to end the season. Considering their recent offensive woes, there's not a single "should win" game on the schedule.

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a somewhat more manageable schedule, but it's still not an easy road. Pittsburgh hosts San Diego, travels to Dallas, hosts the Bengals, and rounds out their against the Browns in Pittsburgh.

The Redskins are a team on the rise, and they'll almost certainly give the Ravens fits with Robert Griffin III taking snaps. He's the type of dynamic player that could crack the Ravens' defense, and if that happens, Baltimore's offense has to show up.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. The Ravens will likely win at least a couple of their remaining games, and in doing so, they'll win the AFC North, but it's anything but in the bag. It's even possible that the Ravens could be left out of the playoffs altogether, although that's something of a doomsday scenario.

The AFC North is one of the most physical divisions in football, and it's setting up for a slugfest to close out the year. Between the Ravens, Steelers and Bengals, two will likely get into the postseason while one will be left out in the cold.

Shane Clemons

About Shane Clemons

Shane Clemons came from humble beginnings creating his own Jaguars blog before moving on to SBNation as a featured writer for the Jaguars. He then moved to Bloguin where he briefly covered the AFC South before taking over Bloguin's Jaguars blog. Since the inception of This Given Sunday, Shane has served as an editor for the site, doing his best not to mess up a good thing.

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