It's playoff-push time and the AFC North race is in a wild state right now. Like last year, three teams from the division are vying for playoff spots and with the Baltimore Ravens seemingly sliding a bit lately, the division title is still up for grabs. Both the Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers are dealing with some injury issues, but are getting some positive news in the same token. We're going to take you around the division to update you on some big news.
Baltimore Ravens: When the team lost Terrell Suggs to an Achilles injury this offseason, most people figured that the team was in trouble. Then the Ravens lost linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb to seemingly season-ending injuries, some predicted doom for Baltimore. But, there must be something in the water back east because Suggs made a miraculous midseason return to the Ravens' lineup and has played in six games.
Last week, though, Suggs suffered another injury setback. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year injured his bicep with reports ranging from a strain to a tear. While it sounds like a serious injury, Matt Vensel of The Baltimore Sun reports that Suggs practiced in a limited fashion onThursday, and looks to be a game-time decision on Sunday versus the Washington Redskins.
Aside from that news about Suggs, Lewis is making a miraculous comeback of his own. The future Hall of Fame linebacker tore his triceps six weeks ago made his way back on to the practice field this Wednesday. Lewis isn't eligible to return from Injured Reserve until December 16th, but looks slated to be ahead of schedule to return when eligible. The Ravens face a daunting last quarter of the season with an away game against the Redskins, then host the Denver Broncos and New York Giants. They end the season in Cincinnati against the Bengals. None of the four teams they face the rest of the way have a record below .500.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Last week, the "Black and Yellow" put together an unlikely victory against the Ravens, headed by veteran quarterback Charlie Batch. Batch was filling in for backup Byron Leftwich, who was replacing an injured Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben suffered an injury to his ribs, as well as a separated shoulder three weeks ago against the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football.
Roethlisberger is making a miraculous comeback himself and it was announced on Thursday that he will start against the San Diego Chargers this Sunday. It seems that Big Ben, much like Suggs and Lewis, realizes the implications over the next few weeks and will do anything to play. The Steelers face host the Chargers this Sunday, travel to Dallas to face the Cowboys, host the Bengals and then finish the year with a home game against the Browns.
Cleveland Browns: Though their news isn't as nigh-profile as that of Pittsburgh's or Baltimore's, it's important to note that this is a team playing better football of late. Even though the team is only 4-8, the Browns have won three of their past five games. The younger players on the roster are playing better and the team seems to be poised to be an improving club in the next couple of years.
It's unclear if head coach Pat Shurmur will keep his job after the past two seasons. He was a Mike Holmgren hire, so it's possible that the organization would look in a different direction because of new ownership, but the late-season upswing could save his job. With continued improvement of Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson, coupled with some more good draft picks, this team could be on the rise.