Written by Message Board 1st Stringer “Lobachevsky”
With the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers both losing yesterday, the Baltimore Ravens are one very-low-probability scenario away from clinching a postseason berth.
Presume the Ravens lose the rest of their regular season games. They limp in at 9-7, 4-2 AFCN, 8-4 AFC, 8-6 in common games with PGH.
The only other team not leading its division with less than 6 losses is the Colts. Presume they get the first wild card at 10-6 or better.
There are 3 other AFC teams currently with 7 losses or less: NYJ, CIN, PGH.
BAL would get the 2nd WC over NYJ on the strength of AFC record, since there’s no head-to-head & the Jests have 5 losses in the conference.
CIN plays PGH in Week 16. If PGH wins, CIN finishes 9-7 at best, 2-4 AFCN. If PGH finishes 10-6, it wins the AFCN outright; if PGH finishes at 9-7, then head-to-head results vs the other 2 teams gives PGH the AFCN (PGH 3-1, BAL 2-2, CIN 1-3), BAL eliminates CIN for the wild card based on overall head to head or on divisional record, then eliminates NYJ if necessary as above.
If CIN wins out (beats @PHA, @PGH & then BAL) it wins the AFCN at 10-6. Then PGH finishes 9-7 at best, 4-2 AFCN, 8-6 in common games with BAL (both went 1-1 in uncommon games), 5-7 AFC, and BAL eliminates PGH based on better conference record & eliminates NYJ if necessary as above.
If CIN loses @PHA but then wins out to finish 9-7, then BAL wins the AFCN if PGH loses again (@DAL or CLE) based on better division record (4-2 vs 3-3). If PGH also finishes 9-7, then head-to-head is a wash in the 3-way train wreck (all teams at 2-2) and BAL again wins the AFCN, this time on better division record (4-2 vs 3-3 for the others).
In fact there is precisely one way in which the Ravens can now be eliminated from the postseason:
- IND finishes no worse than 10-6
- CIN & PGH both win in Week 15 and Week 17; and
- CIN@PGH (Week 16) ends in a tie
In this case both CIN & PGH finish 9-6-1, one wins the AFCN & the other gets the second WC.
So on the first weekend in January it is almost certain that the Ravens will host the Colts as the #4 seed, or travel to Denver or Foxboro as the #6 seed.
Whether you consider that a good or bad thing after the last 2 weeks probably depends on your capacity for generating irrational optimism &/or absorbing bitter heartbreak.
Written by Lobachevsky