The Baltimore Ravens can win out and secure the division title and a playoff spot. But there are some more ways for the Ravens to get into the playoffs.
If you like looking at detailed and unlikely scenarios, this is the perfect time of the season for you. There are many places where the Ravens could end up, and most need help beyond simply winning their last two games. Let’s take a look.
Very simply, this week the Ravens can secure a spot in the playoffs by beating the New England Patriots and having the Miami Dolphins and the San Diego Chargers lose.
Though the Ravens want the division title, if the variables play out, the Ravens can secure a playoff position this week even if they do not get the division. So before the Ravens’ game, be rooting for the Buffalo Bills to beat the Dolphins, and set up alerts for the Chargers’ game that plays during the Ravens game at 4:35pm.
With the Ravens at 8-6, there is another game to look at on the side for a better seeding possibility next week. That team from Indianapolis (you know the team) has already sealed their division with a record at 9-5, and they currently hold the fourth seed in the AFC.
Indianapolis has a 7-3 record in the conference, while the Ravens have a 6-4 record in the conference. So as you may normally do, root against Indianapolis this week when they play the Kansas City Chiefs.
If the Ravens win out and finish with the same record as Indianapolis, Indianapolis’ better conference record (remaining games for Indianapolis and Baltimore are conference games) would secure a better seeding than the Ravens.
If the Ravens finish with the same conference record, Indianapolis’ perfect division record at 5-0 coming into week 16 will also secure a better seeding in comparison to the Ravens’ division record of 3-2 coming into week 16.
So, this may not be the best situation to hope for: that the Patriots lose to the Bills and Indianapolis to the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 17. But anything is possible, while the Patriots will be playing for something if they lose to the Ravens, but Indianapolis doesn’t have as much to play for. This is one possibility for the Ravens to claim the second seed in the AFC, which would greatly improve the Ravens’ path through the playoffs.
I’m sure some are wondering, what happens if the Ravens lose Sunday?
If the Cincinnati Bengals lose Sunday also, all remains the same and the Ravens can beat the Bengals in week 17 to take the division.
If the Dolphins and Chargers lose, while the Ravens lose also; next week could still give the Ravens a playoff berth through the back door.
The Ravens would finish with an 8-8 record; if the Dolphins lose, they would be 8-8; and if the Chargers lose, they would be 7-9. Because the Ravens beat the Dolphins in their meeting earlier in the season, the Ravens would take the last playoff spot almost by default, leaving the division to the Bengals.
In this scenario, the Pittsburgh Steelers could claim the sixth playoff spot also. If they finish with an 8-8 record from their current 6-8 record, they would overtake the Ravens by division record, which would be 4-2 compared to the Ravens’ 3-3 (if they lose their last two games).
No one wants this scenario, because after an 0-4 start, the Steelers shouldn’t make the playoffs.
As you can probably tell, going into week 17 with an 8-7 record doesn’t provide the Ravens the best chances for a playoff berth.
The ideal situation would be the Ravens simply winning out and taking the division … then with side hopes of the Patriots and Indianapolis losing, so the Ravens can seed better.
At worst, the Dolphins and the Chargers lose this week and the Ravens win, so they get a playoff berth no matter what happens in week 17. If the best happens, maybe the Ravens could get the second seed, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.
There may be more scenarios for the third or fourth seed that I am overlooking, so feel free to share more; no matter how unlikely they are, since the Ravens don’t play until later this afternoon.