The Ravens’ Playoff Hopes with 2 Weeks Remaining
The Ravens paths to the playoffs can be most easily delineated by finishing record.
If the Ravens win out to finish 11-5:
- They are guaranteed no worse than a Wild Card.
- They will win the division if Cincinnati (Den, @Pit) and Pittsburgh (KC, Cin) each lose 1 or more games.
If the Ravens win 1 of their remaining 2 to finish 10-6:
- The Ravens cannot win the AFC North
- They will win a Wild Card if at least 2 of the following 3 things occur:
- Kansas City loses at least 1 game (@Pit, SD)
- San Diego loses at least 1 game (@ SF, @KC)
- Cincinnati loses both games (Den, @Pit) or Pittsburgh loses both games (KC, Cin)
The Ravens win a tiebreaker versus Buffalo at 10-6 based on record versus common opponents (Buffalo is now 2-3 and the Ravens are currently 2-1 with 2 common opponents remaining and 1 win to assign).
It is technically possible for the Ravens to win a Wild Card at 9-7, but that requires:
• A tie between Kansas City and San Diego in the final game
• Kansas City to lose to Pittsburgh in week 16
• San Diego to lose to San Francisco in week 16
• Buffalo to lose 1 game
• Houston to lose to Jacksonville in week 17
• Cleveland to lose to Carolina in week 16
Multiplying out these largely independent events, I’d rate this as perhaps 1 in 16,000 (using 1/1000 for the probability of a tie—or approximately 1 every 4 NFL seasons). That implies a greater degree of accuracy than actually exists, but qualitatively that should help you avoid any 500-1 sucker bets that might be available in week 17.
The Ravens would like to avoid reliance on any outside help in week 17. The clinched division winners (or good teams who are out of contention) will often roll over if a bye or top seeding is not at stake or the team is out of playoff contention. The key game in question would be [email protected] where the Ravens may need an eliminated team to beat the other.
Regardless of the week-16 outcomes, Cincinnati at Pittsburgh will be playing for either a shot at the AFC North title or a Wild Card birth in week 17 (although either or both may need help).
For week 16, most Baltimore rooting interests are clear:
- SF over SD
- Dal over Ind (possible seeding gain)
- Den over Cin
- And of course Bal over Hou
Remarkably, the one gut-twisting outcome is KC @ Pit. If KC wins, it improves the Ravens’ chance to win the division significantly, but imperils the Ravens chance to win a Wild Card if SD beats SF.