Believe it or not, every team in the AFC North still has the ability to make to the playoffs. The Browns certainly need some odd things to happen but it isn’t impossible. The Ravens are on the brink, the Bengals are looking good with a Thursday night win, but the Steelers need to play better. In a crucial week 15’s Keys to Victory, I’ll break down the specific things that each team needs to do to come out with a win.
Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens have lost 2 straight and it could very well stretch to 3 with Peyton Manning and the surging Broncos coming to town. This game is going to come down to Joe Flacco. The Broncos are going to score, probably a lot. The Ravens’ organization has moved on from Cam Cameron and has vowed to “open up the offense” and we’ll probably need to see it this weekend. I doubt Ray Rice will be able to keep Baltimore in it by himself so it’s time to put up or shut up for the Ravens.
Pittsburgh Steelers: The key to the Steelers beating the Cowboys in Dallas this week is stopping the run. The Steelers rank 5th overall in rushing defense but they’re going to need to play better than they have recently. It’s no surprise that the Cowboys are going to try to establish DeMarco Murray early and ride him throughout the game, but Pittsburgh must not allow that. The Steelers have the best passing defense in the nation and if they can force Tony Romo to throw the ball 40 times, they’ll get some turnovers and that’s the key to victory this week. Force Romo into doing what he does best, choking in the 4th quarter.
Cleveland Browns: Although it’s a long shot, technically the Browns can still make the playoffs and they’re going to continue to build on their 3 game winning streak. This week they’ll take on the Red Skins who may or may not be without RG3. Washington refuses to give the Browns any help with an injury report so we’ll just have to wait until Sunday to see. Regardless of RG3, the key to victory this week remains the same: run the ball.
The Browns need to pound the rock. Trent Richardson needs to be the guy and he needs to have a big game. It’s not that I don’t think the Browns can move the ball through the air, which they’ll probably be able to do, but the Browns need to put together some long drives. Every minute that RG3 and that offense doesn’t have the ball is a win for Cleveland. If they can control the clock and the ball the Browns could very well keep this shocking playoff dream alive.