The powerful right leg of kicker Justin Tucker has vaulted the Ravens back into control of the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC.
By virtue of a nail-biting 18-16 victory over the Detroit Lions behind a franchise-record 61-yard field goal from Tucker, the Ravens have climbed to 8-6 overall with their fourth consecutive win. They hold a tiebreaker over the Miami Dolphins (8-6) due to a head-to-head victory earlier this season.
The Ravens can also win the AFC North division title and would host a first-round playoff game if they win their final two games of the regular season over the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals. They are one game behind the Bengals (9-5) in the AFC North standings following Cincinnati's loss Sunday night to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Behind three dramatic wins in a row over the Steelers, Minnesota Vikings and the Lions, the Ravens are in the driver's seat when it comes to their playoff fate.
Nothing ever seems to come easily to the Ravens.
"Does it ever?" cornerback Jimmy Smith said. "No, I guess not. I don’t know how many tight games we’ve been to or came down to offense having to make a play or defense having to stop the other team, but we are coming through at the right time.”
If the Bengals and Ravens both finish 10-6, the Ravens would win the division title because they would hold the tiebreaker with a season sweep over the Bengals. If the Dolphins finish 10-6, they also hold a tiebreaker edge over the Bengals due to a win over them earlier this season. The Bengals could actually finish 10-6 and still manage to not qualify for the postseason.
Both of the Bengals' final two games are at home at Paul Brown Stadium, where they're undefeated in six games this season.
Besides the Dolphins, the Ravens also rank ahead of the San Diego Chargers (7-7) and Steelers (6-8) in the playoff seedings.
The Ravens' win over the Lions mathematically eliminated the New York Jets (6-8).