OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens control their own destiny for a spot in the postseason.
While the team is short on style points, the players and coaches are finding ways to win.
With their 23-16 victory over the Houston Texans on Monday night, the Ravens (6-5) regained the sixth and final AFC playoff spot from the Buffalo Bills. However, several teams, including the Cincinnati Bengals (5-6), Los Angeles Chargers (5-6) and Oakland Raiders (5-6), are on Baltimore's heals.
The Ravens, though, have a favorable schedule the rest of the way, playing just two teams with winning records and another three games at home. One of those winning teams, the Detroit Lions, visits M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.
"We're just like everyone else in this league; we're trying to win the whole thing," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. "We're not there yet, but they don't play that game yet. So, the first step is the next step, and the next step is our next game. We have to be good enough to figure out how to win the next game and keep building off of that."
If needed, the Ravens are prepared to ride their dominant defense as far as they can. Baltimore had three more takeaways against Houston and now leads the NFL with 26. The Ravens also lead the league with a plus-11 turnover differential.
"We want to be consistent," said linebacker Terrell Suggs, who leads the team with 9.5 sacks. "We don't want to have to make two big plays in a row. But, if we have to, we will. It's a good place to build, a good place to start. But we're working on consistency."
The other side of the ball is a different story.
Quarterback Joe Flacco and the rest of the offense continues to struggle with inconsistency. Baltimore has the 32nd-ranked passing offense in the NFL and Flacco has routinely misconnected trying to make big plays downfield.
Flacco acknowledged the offense has to play better to have any chance of making a deep run in the postseason. The team needs to play much more aggressively down the stretch, according to the veteran quarterback.
"In order for us to take the next step for real, we're going to have to let it loose a little bit and see where it takes us," Flacco said. "We want (to win) the Super Bowl. I've been in this league long enough to know, if you don't win the Super Bowl, it doesn't mean anything. If we believe we can win the Super Bowl with how we're playing right now, I'm all for it. I really am. We can all take a look at that and say it's probably not super-realistic. We need to go out there, and we need to go get it, and we need to be better on our side of the ball."
For now, though, the Ravens are in a good position. Now, they just have to take advantage of the opportunity in front of them.
"We have to keep grinding, get a little bit better every single day, every single week, in everything we do," Harbaugh said. "(Better) in run game, pass game, pass protection - all of those things."
Linebacker Terrell Suggs is showing he is still one of the league's top playmakers even at age 35.
Suggs had two more sacks against the Texans, raising his season total to a team-leading 9.5. His strip-sack late in the fourth quarter sealed the win for the Ravens.
Baltimore is 20-1 when Suggs records at least two sacks in a game. He never ceases to amaze head coach John Harbaugh.
"He's Ponce de Leon - you should put that on the back of his jersey - he has found the Fountain of Youth," Harbaugh said. "He's playing as well, or better, than I've seen him ever play since I have been here. He has always played great. Maybe it's just because I'm seeing it this year, but he can close on a quarterback. He gets an edge on a block, and he goes from here to there to get to the quarterback. You don't see guys his age (35) do that."
REPORT CARD VS. TEXANS
--PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus -- Quarterback Joe Flacco struggled to make plays downfield and completed 20-of-32 pass attempts for 141 yards. However, he avoided costly turnovers and was sacked once. Receiver Mike Wallace failed to come down with a reception that would have put the Ravens in the red zone in third quarter.
--RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Alex Collins had 60 of Baltimore's 139 yards on the ground. Javorius "Buck" Allen had a 10-yard touchdown run and Danny Woodhead had four receptions for 23 yards. The Ravens improved to 5-0 when they run for at least 135 yards in a game.
--PASS DEFENSE: C -- The Ravens allowed Texans quarterback Tom Savage to complete several passes across the middle. Baltimore had no answer for DeAndre Hopkins, who caught seven passes for 125 yards. The Ravens did manage a pair of interceptions.
--RUSH DEFENSE: A -- Baltimore had another stellar game stopping the run. The Texans entered the game sixth in rushing, but managed just 66 yards on the ground. Baltimore's defensive line has gotten better over the past several games.
--SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- Kicker Justin Tucker converted all three of his field-goal attempts from 53, 31 and 49 yards. Sam Koch threw a 22-yard pass to Chris Moore on a fake punt early in the second quarter. Two plays later, Allen tied the game on a 10-yard run. Coverage was solid.
--COACHING: B -- The Ravens picked up another key win and retook the sixth and final spot in the AFC playoff race. Head coach John Harbaugh successfully gambled twice on fourth down, which eventually led to a pair of touchdowns. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees made successful adjustments handling Houston linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, who wreaked havoc in the first quarter.