History on Ravens' side to win the division

The Baltimore Ravens took over first place in the AFC North on Sunday, when they beat the Atlanta Falcons and the reeling Cincinnati Bengals were shut out bye the Indianapolis Colts.

Does it mean anything that for the Ravens to be in the top spot seven weeks into the season? History suggests yes.

Over the past five seasons, 70 percent of the teams won their divisions after having sole possession of first place heading into Week 8. That's 26 of 37 teams.

"It’s good to be there at this time," coach John Harbaugh said. "But you have to build on it, you have to keep getting better. We’re not a good enough team to do the things that we want to do right now, so we have to keep improving."

The Ravens (5-2) are tied for the fifth-best record in the NFL. Only the Dallas Cowboys have more wins at 6-1.

In the AFC North, the Ravens hold less a full game lead (a three-quarter one, to be specific) over the Bengals (3-2-1) because of the tie and uneven amount of games played. If the Ravens lose Sunday at Cincinnati, they give first place back to the Bengals. The Ravens are currently 1.5 games ahead of the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers, both of whom are 3-3.

"We know what’s on the line with this game," wide receiver Torrey Smith said of Sunday's game in Cincinnati. "It will be a big one for us. We need this one.”

The Ravens have now opened the season at 5-2 for the fourth time under Harbaugh. In those three previous seasons, the Ravens reached the playoffs each time (2010, 2011 and 2012).