Ravens clinch fifth straight trip to playoffs with Pittsburgh loss

December 16, 2012 | Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Only a few hours after suffering their worst home defeat in over five years, the Ravens officially received their ticket to their fifth straight trip to the playoffs after the Pittsburgh Steelers fell in Dallas.

The Ravens failed to clinch the AFC North title after suffering a humbling 34-17 defeat to the Denver Broncos, but the Cowboys’ overtime win over Pittsburgh officially sent Baltimore to a league-best fifth consecutive postseason appearance. Still one game ahead of the Bengals in the division race, the Ravens can take care of business themselves against the New York Giants in Baltimore with a win next Sunday to secure the AFC North crown.

Clinching the AFC North next week will not be possible if the Ravens lose to the Giants, regardless of what happens in the Week 16 Steelers-Bengals game. A Cincinnati win would set up a Week 17 showdown with the Ravens in which the winner takes the division. A Steelers win over the Bengals would set up a potential scenario in which the three AFC North teams could all finish the season with 9-7 records if Cincinnati would beat Baltimore and Pittsburgh would beat Cleveland in Week 17. This would result in Pittsburgh winning the three-way head-to-head tiebreaker to take the division.

Of course, the Ravens would cure all headaches by beating the Giants and putting all these tiebreaker scenarios to rest.

Regardless of how the next two weeks play out, Baltimore is the only team in the league to win a playoff game in each of the last four seasons, and the Ravens will have a chance to do it once again this January.