With two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Ravens have already secured a spot in the playoffs. As for where, exactly, they’ll end up? It’s hard to say.
According to the New York Times’ postseason projections, the Ravens (10-5) have a 26% chance of earning the No. 3 seed in the AFC, a 36% chance of earning the No. 5 seed and a 30% chance of earning the No. 6 seed. They also have outside shots at claiming either the No. 2 seed or the No. 7 seed.
The Ravens would help their positioning with a win Sunday night over the Pittsburgh Steelers. But they wouldn’t mind some help. Here’s a look at the four most important games outside Baltimore in Week 17.
Broncos at Chiefs (1 p.m. Sunday)
Root for Denver. OK, so this probably won’t happen. The Broncos are 12 1/2-point underdogs and have lost 14 straight games in this series. But if the Ravens were to face either the Chiefs (12-3) or the Buffalo Bills as a potential No. 7 seed, Kansas City (12-3) might be the best of two bad options. Since Week 11, the Chiefs rank No. 17 in the NFL in defense (No. 21 against the run) and No. 22 in special teams, according to Football Outsiders. There’s the small matter of stopping quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but if Marcus Peters is healthy enough to help out fellow cornerback Marlon Humphrey and safety Marcus Williams, the Ravens could have three potential game-changing defensive backs.
Dolphins at Patriots (1 p.m. Sunday)
Root for New England. Yes, a Miami win would knock the Steelers out before Sunday’s game even kicks off. But the Dolphins (8-7), losers of four straight, can still jump the Ravens if they win their next two games; their Week 2 win in Baltimore would be the tiebreaker if both teams finish 10-7. While a fully functional Miami team packs more punch than anything New England can offer — admittedly, a long shot for as long as quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s in concussion protocol — the Ravens aren’t likely to see either AFC East team in the wild-card round anyway.
Rams at Chargers (4:25 p.m. Sunday)
Root for the Rams. The Chargers (9-6) finish the season with a “home” game against the injury-depleted Rams and a road game against the disorderly Denver Broncos. That could set them up to jump the Ravens in the AFC’s wild-card picture. If the Bengals win the AFC North, and the Ravens and Chargers both finish 10-6 overall, the Chargers would win the tiebreaker for the No. 5 seed by virtue of a superior conference record. And it’s not hard to imagine the Ravens preferring to face the fourth-seeded AFC South champions — either the Jacksonville Jaguars or Tennessee Titans — over any of the other division champions who’d get the No. 3 seed.
Bills at Bengals (8:30 p.m. Monday)
Root for Buffalo. Not only would a Bills win facilitate the (unlikely) possibility of Kansas City falling to the No. 2 seed, but it might also, far more importantly, give the Ravens another path to the AFC North crown. If the Ravens lose Sunday and Cincinnati (11-4) wins Monday, the Bengals would repeat as AFC North champions. If the Ravens and Cincinnati both lose, the Ravens could still claim the divisional crown with a Week 18 road win over the Bengals by virtue of their series sweep.
Comments are closed.