The silver lining: opportunities remain on the table

Cincinnati Bengals 17, Baltimore Ravens 20

The Baltimore Ravens jumped out to a 17 point lead going into halftime. The Bengals struggled to move the ball much of the second half, but late in the game, the Bengals showed some life, pulling within 7 points and earning a last chance to tie the game. After Andy Dalton absorbed a couple of big hits from the Ravens’ defense in the closing seconds, the Bengals were left with a Hail Mary to save the day. Although the Bengals were able to nail one of the most exciting plays in football, they lost in overtime, allowing the rest of the division to close in.

Although it was a heart-breaking loss after a furious comeback late in the day, the Bengals are still in good shape. Cincinnati still leads their division by a somewhat comfortable margin, and the AFC North as a whole has a way of missing opportunities. Still, the Bengals need to find more consistency, but the loss shouldn’t hurt them at season’s end.

St. Louis Rams 38, Indianapolis Colts 8

Every time I hear the Colts are a “run first” team, a little piece of me dies inside. The Colts carried the ball a total of 14 times against the Rams, gaining a total of 18 yards. That’s not how a “run first” team operates, and the Colts were completely outplayed from wire to wire against a far inferior team.

The good news, and we’ll go more in-depth about this in a moment, is the Tennessee Titans, who are the closest challenger to the Colts in the AFC South, were beaten by the Jacksonville Jaguars, the worst team in the league. In addition to the Titans’ missed opportunity, the Colts will get their own shot at the Titans, who will likely be without Jake Locker, this Thursday.

Jacksonville Jaguars 29, Tennessee Titans 27

Going into Sunday’s early round of games, the Jacksonville Jaguars were undoubtedly the worst team in the league. In fact, they’re still the worst team in the NFL, even if there’s still one team without a win this season. The Jags have scored fewer points than any team in the league, 115, and they’ve allowed more points than anyone in the NFL, 291.

Still, a loss is a loss, and the Titans will have to regroup quickly to get back on track. The good news, as previously mentioned, is the Titans will take on the Colts on Thursday Night Football, giving them a golden opportunity to make up a game on the division leading Colts. Still, this one stings – a lot.

Carolina Panthers 10, San Francisco 49ers 9

The 49ers’ loss to the Carolina Panthers may come back to bite them at the end of the season in the form of a wildcard tie-breaker. After jumping out to a quick lead, the 49ers stalled out for the remainder of the game, allowing the Panthers to do just enough to scoot by.

The good news is the 49ers still control the sixth and final playoff position. They have some competition breathing down their neck now, but they have more talent on their team than others competing for a playoff position. Although the loss hurts, there’s no reason to believe the 49ers, who had not lost a game since week 3, will miss the playoffs.

Shane Clemons

About Shane Clemons

Shane Clemons came from humble beginnings creating his own Jaguars blog before moving on to SBNation as a featured writer for the Jaguars. He then moved to Bloguin where he briefly covered the AFC South before taking over Bloguin's Jaguars blog. Since the inception of This Given Sunday, Shane has served as an editor for the site, doing his best not to mess up a good thing.