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Ravens lock up final AFC playoff spot following win

It wasn't pretty, but the Baltimore Ravens (10-6) are playoff-bound after downing the Cleveland Browns (7-9) 20-10 on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. Our takeaways:

  1. Stripped of his two starting tackles, quarterback Joe Flacco and the Ravens looked nothing like postseason material for three-plus quarters. Cleveland's defense held Baltimore to under 5.0 yards per play before Flacco caught fire in the final period with a pair of touchdown strikes to Torrey Smith and Kamar Aiken to put the Browns away. Still, this 11th-ranked Ravens attack has struggled of late. Can Flacco put together another magical January run?
  1. It's not a good sign for Johnny Manziel that undrafted quarterback Connor Shaw looked more comfortable and prepared -- and played better -- in his first NFL start. It was far from pristine, but the rookie out of South Carolina finished 14-of-28 passing for 177 yards while handling the blitz with more poise than Johnny Football. Baltimore showed how little they respected the Browns' offense by going for it on fourth down in the red zone in the opening quarter.
  1. Browns rookie running back Terrance West played his best game in months with 94 yards off 18 carries after earning the start over Isaiah Crowell. Coach Mike Pettine challenged West to practice better in recent weeks, and it paid off on Sunday. Crowell and West give the Browns two solid runners to lean on in 2015.
  1. Justin Forsett capped his fantastic breakout season with 119 yards off 17 attempts against a Browns run defense that has plenty of work to do this offseason. Forsett finishes the year with 1,266 yards, but will Baltimore re-sign him? As for Cleveland, look for the Browns to tap their ample cap space for help up front.
  1. The Browns go into the offseason facing plenty of the same questions they wrestled with last offseason: What is Josh Gordon's future with the team? Who's the quarterback? Can the front office be trusted to pick the right players? And once again they find themselves staring up at Baltimore, a team that has all but owned them since Cleveland's return to the league in 1999.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps every Week 17 game and debates the MVP race between Aaron Rodgers and J.J. Watt. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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