December 23, 2019 / 2:34 AM / 8 months ago

Ravens grab AFC top seed, but NFC up for grabs

(Reuters) - The Baltimore Ravens wrapped American Football Conference’s (AFC) top seed and home field advantage for the NFL playoffs by beating the Cleveland Browns 31-15 on Sunday but it will take out another week to sort out the National Football Conference (NFC).

Dec 22, 2019; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Justice Hill (43) runs the ball for a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens (13-2), winners of 11 consecutive games, have not lost since dropping a 40-25 decision to the Browns on the last Sunday in September.

Powerhouse quarterback Lamar Jackson passed for three touchdowns, giving him a league-leading 36 for the season. He also rushed for 103 yards.

Things did not go as smoothly in the NFC with Sunday’s losses by the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks leaving the New Orleans Saints (12-3) as the only NFC team with a division title so far.

The Cowboys could have won the NFC East with a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, but lost 17-9.

Now the Eagles (8-7) could win the NFC East with a victory over the New York Giants next week.

The Cowboys (7-8) still have a chance but they must beat Washington Redskins and have the Eagles lose to the Giants.

The Seahawks (11-4), shocked by the Arizona Cardinals 27-13, must now turn back the San Francisco 49ers (12-3) next week to claim the NFC West title, but the loss to the Cardinals may cost Seattle one of the NFC’s top two seeds.

One of those seeds could go to the Green Bay Packers (11-3), who can collect the NFC North title with a win over the Minnesota Vikings (10-4). Both are already assured playoff spots.

The Saints could be in line for another top spot after beating the Tennessee Titans 38-28 on Sunday behind Drew Brees’ three touchdowns and Michael Thomas’ NFL record-breaking 145 catches for the season.

In the AFC, the New England Patriots (12-3, East), Houston Texans (10-5, South), Kansas City Chiefs (10-4, West) join the Ravens as division winners.

The Buffalo Bills (10-5) are also in with the Tennessee Titans (8-7), Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7) and Oakland Raiders (7-8) in the running for the second wild card spot.

The playoffs begin with wild card games on Jan. 4-5 and divisional round games on Jan. 11-12.

Conference championships are set for Jan. 19 with the Super Bowl scheduled for Miami on Feb. 2.

Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; Editing by Lincoln Feast.

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