The Ravens can still make the AFC playoffs for a third straight season with Lamar Jackson. Baltimore isn’t close to the 14-2 squad that won the AFC’s best seed in the 2019 AFC playoffs, but they’ll gladly accept a prime spot with all the injury and illness issues they have. she met in 2020.
At the end of Week 15 and after back-to-back wins over the Browns and Jaguars, the Ravens (9-5) are still the AFC’s No.8 team because the Dolphins (9-5) hold the conference record. by one game. But the Ravens have one of the easiest finishing schedules in the NFL: against the Giants (5-9) and the Bengals (2-10-1).
With that in mind, will the Ravens sneak into the AFC tournament at the bottom, a year after being at the top? Here’s a breakdown of the scenarios:
The Ravens win 2-0 to finish 11-5
The Ravens aren’t totally guaranteed to be a winner, but it’s close. The Titans (10-4) and Colts (10-4) are fighting for the AFC South title. The two teams have some incredibly tough games in Week 16: Tennessee is in Green Bay and Indianapolis is in Pittsburgh. There is a good chance that one or both will end 11-5.
The Ravens own the face-to-face tiebreaker with the Colts, but they lose it to the Titans. The Dolphins play the Raiders (7-7) in Week 16 before heading to the Bills (11-3) in Week 17.
The worst-case scenario for the Ravens at 11-5 would be for the Colts to win to go to 12-4, with the Titans finishing second in the AFC South at 11-5 and the Dolphins finishing second in the AFC East at 11. -5. The Titans, who beat the Ravens, and the Dolphins are said to have 8-4 conference records. The best the Ravens can do at the conference is 7-5.
But that assumes two teams win with the Ravens, which is a long shot based on the schedule. Baltimore, having passed Cleveland, had by far the most favorable route to hold the table. The assistance required for the Ravens to enter would be minimal. Sweeping the Browns puts an extra tiebreaker in their back pocket.
The Ravens finish 1-1 to finish 10-6
Ravens also have a very good chance of getting this way, believe it or not. The Titans are the best bet to beat the Colts for the South because of a top division record. With the Texans being their other opponent, the Titans should make it 11-5. The Colts, beyond the Steelers, pull the Jaguars in Week 17.
So being pretty reasonable barring major upsets, the Ravens wouldn’t be able to catch either team from the South at 10-6; they would finish a full match behind. Then the focus would be on dolphins.
If the Dolphins lose to the Raiders or the Bills, they will cap at 10-6 with a conference record of 7-5 at best. The Ravens, if they lose to the Bengals, could reach just 6-6 in AFC play. But assuming the Bills have something to play in Week 17, the Dolphins would be considerable underdogs in this game, even if they beat the Raiders.
The Ravens would still have a good chance of being part of the Browns and the AFC South finalist in this scenario.
Ravens go 0-2 to finish 9-7
The Ravens, due to a poor conference record and only holding the Colts tiebreaker, would need a lot of help from other teams involving the Dolphins and Raiders to get in here. Double-digit winning streaks give the Ravens a strong chance to advance to the playoffs; staying in the single digits greatly decreases those odds.