Although that is a large deficit to make up at this stage of the campaign, the in-form Teesiders have momentum on their side having won their last three matches, but Karanka has banned playoff talk in case it comes back to bite them.
"I don't want to speak about the playoffs because the moment we speak about the play-offs we will lose our next game," the Spaniard told reporters.
"I prefer to think about the next game at Burnley as being one against a team near the top of the table and we have to go there to win the game. We have won the last three games and for this I am very happy."
Middlesbrough visit second-placed Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday in their next Championship outing.