In blocking the potential game-winning field goal Monday night as time expired and returning it for a game-winning, 64-yard touchdown, the Ravens only really affected one of the two races that will matter at season’s end.
Inside the team facility in Owings Mills, and evidenced by their effort Monday, the Ravens are still playing for the playoffs, something that at 4-7 seems out of reach even as they play three of their remaining five games at M&T Bank Stadium.
But many fans are clamoring that they play for a high pick in the NFL draft, and those goals couldn’t be more divergent.
Other than keep their faint hopes alive, the Ravens didn’t do much to improve their playoff odds with Monday’s 33-27 win over the Cleveland Browns. They entered the week with a 0.1 percent chance of grabbing a wild-card spot, according to Football Outsiders, and doubled it to 0.2 percent with the victory.
The numbers at FiveThirtyEight didn’t climb too much, either. Wins in the past two weeks over the St. Louis Rams and Cleveland Browns lifted the Ravens’ playoff percentages in their view to 4 percent.
The odds of them earning the first overall pick in the draft, however, moved a good bit more. The Ravens entered the week with the fourth-highest odds of drafting first overall, at 10.7 percent, according to Football Outsiders. Now, they’re just 1.2 percent, with the Browns getting the first overall pick in nearly half of the simulations run.
The Ravens do, however, have a 16.7 percent chance of earning a top-three pick.
Maybe this will read as silly when, say, the Pittsburgh Steelers come to town on Dec. 27 and the Ravens are .500 with a chance to make the playoffs. Then I’ll be one of those cyber bullies Ravens coach John Harbaugh warned about last week.
But until something crazy happens, the fight that the Ravens have shown (and should be proud of) isn’t signifcantly improving their playoff odds or draft pick this year.