The Baltimore Ravens could have controlled their destiny headed into week 17. Instead, we have these different scenarios in order for the Ravens to make the playoffs. And none of them involves the Ravens getting in without help.
There are still a handful of ways the Ravens can get into the playoffs, but only two involve the Ravens actually winning. So yes, the Ravens could still make the playoffs without a win.
The simplest ways the Ravens can make the playoffs is if they win and the Miami Dolphins loss or tie. With this scenario, the Ravens can be in the playoffs before the 4 o’clock games.
The New York Jets need to make a statement in their last game against the Dolphins, so I doubt it will be a simple game the Jets will give away since their season is over.
Another scenario is having a San Diego Chargers loss or tie with a Ravens’ win. The Chargers play in the late afternoon against the Kansas City Chiefs, so we would have to sweat out watching it if the Dolphins win.
Why would we have to sweat this out even though the Ravens hold the tiebreaker over both the teams? Because as I learned this past week, the NFL has a separate rule for a three-way tie, which would send the Dolphins to the playoffs if the three competing teams end with a 9-7 record.
This is because the NFL throws out all other tiebreakers and determines the playoff spot according to each team’s conference record. The Dolphins hold the better conference record at 8-4 (after winning in week 17) compared to the second best of 7-5 the Ravens can have by winning in week 17.
That three-way tie scenario is if everyone wins, but if every team loses, it gets a bit more complicated. This would leave the Ravens, Dolphins, Jets, and Chargers with an 8-8 record, and Steelers with a 7-9 record. Yes, the Jets suddenly come into the picture, because they beat the Dolphins to even their record at 8-8.
In this scenario, the Dolphins are eliminated immediately, because the Jets have the better division record. So, it comes down to another three-way tie between the Ravens, Chargers, and Jets.
Remember the three-way tie rule, this time it proves to be in the Ravens’ favor. The Ravens would have the better conference record, even with a loss, among the three teams, sending the Ravens into the playoffs through the sixth seed.
To make the three-way tie scenarios a bit easier, think of it like this. If the competing teams all win, the Ravens miss the playoffs. If the competing teams all lose, the Ravens make it into the playoffs.
Let’s take another look at it. No Ravens’ fan wants to see the Steelers in the playoffs and the Ravens not.
If every team, but the Steelers lose, the Steelers will then take the last playoff spot because they will have a better division record than the Ravens. The Jets will knock the Dolphins out of the picture because of division seeding, and the Steelers better conference record will send them to the playoffs.
Got all that? There’s more!
The Ravens have two more scenarios to get into the playoffs that don’t involve winning or losing in week 17. Yes, I am talking about the rare occurrence of the tie game.
In the event of a Ravens tie, the Dolphins would have to lose, combined with either a Chargers loss or tie. The Ravens hold the tiebreaker over the Chargers by conference record.
If the Dolphins tie, the Ravens would need a Chargers’ loss. Remember, a three-way tie that keeps the Dolphins in the race means the Ravens will miss the playoffs.
If you look close enough, the Ravens need to have a better record than either the Dolphins or Chargers in the event of a win. A tie is no good for the Ravens, because of the NFL’s rules.
Hopefully you can grasp all of that. It took me a little bit to understand it all, especially with the specific rule for three-way ties, which I will thank Josh Land of MASN for explaining to me.
There shouldn’t be any more scenarios involving the Ravens making the playoffs. I wouldn’t want to get into the other teams’ scenarios.