The nerves are beginning to increase at Baltimore Ravens. Those who might want to have bet on them to win the AFC North would have been happy a few weeks ago. Now as we approach Christmas, that bet looks a little shaky.
November ended with Baltimore sitting pretty with an 8-3 season record. They’d just beaten Cleveland Browns 16-10, their second win in a row after edging out Chicago Bears 16-13. Sportsbooks were offering short odds on another AFC North title but since then it’s not gone well for the Ravens.
December began with a trip to fellow AFC Northside Pittsburgh Steelers and win number nine of the season looked on its way. The Ravens led going into the final quarter but ended up conceding 17 points in the final quarter.
That led to the Steelers winning by a single point and reducing the Ravens to 8-4 for the season but it should have been 9-3. But for a missed two-point conversion right at the death, it’d have been the Ravens celebrating the win.
Those betting on the Ravens throughout the match will not have been delighted at that outcome. The loss saw Baltimore slip from the top of the AFC to the third position. That missed conversion may well come back to haunt the Ravens in the weeks ahead.
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Just a fortnight after beating Cleveland Browns at home, the Ravens faced them on the road. This time, it was the Ravens who got off to a terrible start, trailing 24-6 at the break. Those betting on the Ravens to win the AFC North were beginning to get increasingly edgy. To their credit, injury-hit Baltimore fought back hard in the third and fourth quarters.
No points were conceded but the 16 that the Ravens scored left them two short and again losing a close match. Two games lost but only by an aggregate margin of three points. That’s made it very tight in the AFC North when really, the Ravens could easily have been well clear.
December continued to be disappointing when the Ravens lost to the Green Bay Packers. The Ravens won the first quarter 7-0 but then ended up a level at the break after losing the second 14-7. They were four points adrift going into the final quarter but despite a comeback, lost out by a single point to slip to 8-6 for the season.
Three losses in succession and lost by just four points! Sportsbooks that seemed convinced Baltimore would walk away with the AFC North now have a different opinion. The Ravens are down to second in their division, behind the Cincinnati Bengals, and now only eighth overall In the AFC.
Could the unthinkable happen and the Ravens fail to even get a wild card? Who would have bet on that a few weeks ago? It’s incredibly tight in both their division and the AFC. The Bengals also have an 8-6 record and overall, the Ravens are one of four teams on that score.
There are three regular-season games to be played. Whereas a few weeks ago the Ravens would have expected to have almost clinched the AFC North title, they have a battle on their hands. That means three crucial nerve-jangling matches.
The December 26 game is going to be vital for the Ravens. As fate would have it, they are on the road at the Bengals. You can bet that both teams will be going all out to get a win. Doing so would put the winners in the driving seat for both the AFC North title and a top-four finish in the AFC.
Fans of the Ravens probably still have nightmares over the 41-17 loss to the Bengals in October. Cincinnati hasn’t made the most of the poor form shown by the Ravens. They have one win in their last three games. After this game, they take on the in-form Chiefs before a final match against Cleveland.
The big question for Baltimore is who will be their quarterback against the Bengals? Tyler Huntley will give it his best but the Ravens are still without key players at the wrong part of the season. It may be Christmas but it’s a worrying time for the Ravens.