How Can Ravens Catch Bengals?

Posted on December 11, 2013 by Joe Platania

OWINGS MILLS -- The conventional thinking right now is that, with a two-game lead with four to play, the Cincinnati Bengals have a hammerlock on the AFC North division title.

In fact, through various scenarios, the Bengals can clinch a playoff spot Dec. 15 with a win against Pittsburgh. Cincinnati would take the division outright with a win and a Ravens loss in Detroit Dec. 16.

But it's important to keep in mind that when two teams are tied at the top of a division, the third tiebreaker is the teams' record against common opponents. It follows the head-to-head and division-record tiebreakers.

Currently, the Ravens are 5-5 against teams the Bengals have also played; Cincinnati's record is 7-3 against those foes.

Each team has two games left against common opponents, with the Ravens taking on Detroit and New England, and the Bengals playing both Pittsburgh and Minnesota.

Should the Ravens go 2-0 during that stretch and the Bengals lose both of those games, both teams would be 9-6 overall and 7-5 in common games, with their second head-to-head meeting remaining.

Also, with the loss to the Steelers, the Bengals will have suffered a third division defeat; the Ravens have only two.

If that sequence of events plays out, a tie or a Ravens win at Cincinnati would render all other tiebreakers moot and give Baltimore a third straight AFC North title, something no team has done since the league was realigned in 2002.

***

JOEY P'S TRIVIA TIME: Today's question:

Because the Ravens' extra day of media availability is a bonus day for us, we'll make it a bonus True or False day for you.

Kicker Justin Tucker's current streak of 27 consecutive made field goals is nine off the Ravens team record set by Matt Stover, who set it during parts of the 2005 and 2006 seasons.

True or False: As far as the league record is concerned, Stover's streak is second all-time to Gary Anderson's 40-kick run from 1997 to '98.

The answer will be revealed at the bottom of today's column.

***

EYES IN THE SKY: Here's where our locally connected broadcasters are working this weekend:

- Remember how the Cleveland Browns reportedly had a plane waiting for Brian Billick to whisk him off to Ohio for a job interview in 1999? He came to Baltimore instead, and the rest is history. But this week, Billick and Fox partners Thom Brennaman and Laura Okmin will be in Cleveland when the Browns host the Chicago Bears.

- Westwood One radio analyst and ex-Ravens safety Rod Woodson will join partner Tom McCarthy at SunLife Stadium for a pivotal AFC East clash between the host Miami Dolphins and first-place New England Patriots.

- Former Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa might be tempted to rub a bit of salt in the Minnesota Vikings' wounds Dec. 15 when he and Fox partners Kenny Albert and Daryl Johnston call the game in Minneapolis between the Ravens' most recent victims and the Philadelphia Eagles.

- We know that ex-WBAL-TV (Channel 11) reporter Lisa Salters and former Maryland quarterback Boomer Esiason can remain objective, so if they work their respective Monday-night jobs for ESPN and Westwood One Radio with their usual professionalism, they won't cheer for the Ravens as they play in Detroit.

***

CHEFFERS TO REF: If you believe in omens, then there could be one regarding the referee assignment for the Ravens' Week 15 game in Detroit (8:40 p.m. Dec. 16; ESPN, WBAL-TV; WIYY-FM).

The Ravens are 1-5 on the road this year, with their only away win taking place during Week Five in Miami. The referee for that game, Carl Cheffers, will also be taking charge of the contest against the Lions.

Cheffers, like this year's Ravens, has paid his dues, working high school games for 15 years before getting a collegiate referee position in 1995 in the conference known as the Pacific-10 (now Pac-12). He also worked in the Western Athletic Conference.

Five years later, the NFL hired him and he worked on Larry Nemmers' crew. In 2008, he was promoted to referee when Nemmers and Gerry Austin both retired.

During the Ravens-Dolphins game he officiated in October, Cheffers called six accepted penalties on Baltimore and four on Miami.

A point of contention among the Dolphins involved a last-second, 57-yard field goal try by Caleb Sturgis, who kicked the ball wide left. The Dolphins accused the Ravens of an illegal pre-snap move on that play, one they said should have resulted in a 15-yard personal foul.

***

QUOTE OF THE DAY I: Given how uncertain the world is today, skepticism and cynicism have become commonplace.

But linebacker Elvis Dumervil got a pleasant surprise after he signed with the Ravens as an unrestricted free agent during the offseason.

"I was a little bit surprised that [Baltimore] was every bit as advertised," Dumervil, a former Denver Bronco, said. "Sometimes, things are mentioned or talked about, and they turn out to be not as advertised. 

"But this was pretty head-on, so it was like, 'OK, this is good.' "

***

QUOTE OF THE DAY II: More fallout from the snowfall, via wide receiver Torrey Smith's Twitter account:

"I loved snow when I was a student...loved snow days...Now I hate snow....it's only cool if you don't have anything to do haha"

***

JOEY P'S TRIVIA TIME ANSWER: Here's the question we asked earlier in this column:

Because the Ravens' extra day of media availability is a bonus day for us, we'll make it a bonus True or False day for you.

Kicker Justin Tucker's current streak of 27 consecutive made field goals is nine off the Ravens team record set by Matt Stover, who set it during parts of the 2005 and 2006 seasons.

True or False: As far as the league record is concerned, Stover's streak is second all-time to Gary Anderson's 40-kick run from 1997 to '98.

ANSWER:  

Most of Anderson's streak came while he was with the Minnesota Vikings in 1998, as he did not miss a regular-season field goal at all.

But he did hook a mid-range kick wide left during the NFC title game, one that could have put the Atlanta Falcons two scores down and essentially put the Vikings in the Super Bowl. 

In any event, Anderson's impressive streak may have set the league record at the time, but a few years later, Indianapolis' Mike Vanderjagt ripped off a streak of 42 straight for Indianapolis, so our statement is false.

As for Stover, the Ravens let him go after the 2008 season, and he signed with Indianapolis, a team for which he kicked a game-winner against the Ravens in November 2009.

That season ended with Stover becoming the oldest player to compete in a Super Bowl, as the Colts lost to New Orleans during Super Bowl XLIV in Miami.

Joe Platania is in his 20th season covering professional football.

next up:

Joey P's Week 15 Picks: Still Needing A Big Finish

December 11, 2013

Joe Platania shares his NFL picks for Week 15, and he thinks the road teams, including the Ravens, will dominate this week.

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