The clock was ticking toward midnight on Sunday when we got the official word: The Ravens are in the driver's seat in the AFC bracket. Their 16-10 victory over the Browns elevated them to the top spot in the AFC, replacing the Titans and just ahead of the surging Patriots.
Are the Ravens the best team in the AFC? It's way too early to say that. They might not even be there when they return from their bye in Week 14. But for one week, at least, we can say that the Ravens rose to the challenge.
In more ways than one, the NFL's Week 12 playoff picture is a mess. It's foolhardy to try identifying the top two or three teams in the AFC at this point, while on the NFC side it's impossible to say whether there are seven legitimate playoff teams in the making. For now, the 5-6 Vikings are clinging to the No. 7 spot, among a total of six teams that have five or six wins. If Washington beats the Seahawks on Monday night, it will bring that number to seven.