Race for the AFC North, Week 14
The Ravens trail the Bengals by two games in the AFC North. Considering that they travel to Cincinnati in week 17, Baltimore only has to make up one game in the next three to contend for a home playoff game in the final game of the regular season. So much can happen between now and then. Let us take this one week at a time. Here’s a quick look at the division games.
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Ravens vs. Vikings – Minnesota comes in to town coming off of back to back overtime games that went the distance or close to it. Two extra quarters of wear and tear vs. the Ravens on extra rest. Not to mention that the Vikings are not good, maybe turning back to Matt Cassel at QB, Ravens should win this one easily getting to 7-6.
Bengals vs. Colts – Both teams enter at 8-4, with the Benglas posting a 5-0 record at home and scoring 40+ points in their last two home contests. The teams are evenly matched on offense with the defensive advantage going to the Bengals. The Bengals would become the #3 seed with a win here.
Steelers vs. Dolphins – The Steelers need the win for the rest of the season to matter. Miami needs the win to stay in the hunt as the current first team out. Ravens hold the 6-6 tie breaker over them for the last wild card spot.
Browns @ Patriots – Not likely, but if Cleveland pulls the upset, the winner of CIN vs. IND moves up to the #2 seed via tie-breakers. (Bengals H2H over NE, Colts would have the better conference record).
Let’s leave Cleveland out of this, and look at the major players in the division, and the possible outcomes after week 14.
Ravens win, Bengals Win, Steelers Win – Ravens take a one game lead for the last playoff spot at 7-6. Dolphins would at best be tied with a number of other teams at 6-7, including the Steelers. Bengals hold two game lead in the Division. The Steelers are still hanging around at 6-7 with a favorable schedule to come.
Ravens win, Bengals win, Steelers lose – Ravens still hold the last wild card spot, Dolphins still the only team one game out by tie breaker, same record as the Ravens. Bengals still hold a two game division lead. Steelers likely out, can go 8-8 at best.
*Ravens win, Bengals lose, Steelers win – Ravens trail Bengals by one game for the division, and take a one game lead for the last WC spot. Steelers trail by two games for the division, and can close the gap to one game by beating the Bengals in week 15.
Ravens win, Bengals lose, Steelers lose – Ravens trail Bengals by one game for the division, Steelers all but out, Miami still the first team out with the same record as the Ravens.
Ravens lose, Bengals lose, Steelers lose – Bengals two game division lead still in place. Dolphins become the #6 seed (7-6). Ravens become first team out (6-7). Even if the Jets, Titans and Chargers win making them all 6-7, the Ravens own tiebreakers over Jets (H2H) Titans and Chargers (better conference record).
**Ravens lose, Bengals win, Steelers lose – Bengals take a three game lead in the division. Ravens would have to win out, and Bengals lose out for the Ravens to earn a home playoff game. Same scenario applies above. Ravens become the first team out.
Ravens lose, Bengals win, Steelers win – Bengals take three game lead in division. Ravens, Steelers, Dolphins are all 6-7. Ravens hang onto #6 seed via current tie breakers over Dolphins (H2H) and Steelers (better division record).
Ravens lose, Bengals lose, Steelers win – Ravens and Steelers tied for second in the division, two games behind Bengals. Same scenario as above, Ravens hold onto #6 seed.
*Best case scenario
**Worst case scenario
Did you get all that?
Everyone here plays during the one o’clock slate this Sunday
Baltimore controls it’s own destiny.
Unfortunately, Ravens fans may find themselves rooting for the enemy this week. Even if the Dolphins prevail and stay tied for that last spot with the Ravens, Miami hosts New England next week in a tough matchup. The Ravens will know what’s at stake with the luxury of playing the final game of the week in Detroit. We’ll cross that bridge next week.