Baltimore Ravens

Ravens must win the AFC North to make the playoffs, and here's how they can do it

The Ravens will either be AFC North champions or will be watching the playoffs from home next month.

Any hopes of capturing a wild-card spot vanished when the Miami Dolphins beat the Buffalo Bills 34-31 in overtime Saturday afternoon.


The Ravens (8-6) must beat the Steelers (9-5) on Sunday or they will be eliminated.

If they do beat the Steelers, there are three Week 17 scenarios (one practical, one unlikely and another completely far-fetched) that would get them in...

Practical:  A win at the Bengals (5-8-1) on Jan. 1 would clinch the division for the Ravens. The Bengals have had the Ravens' number in recent years, but Baltimore did win the one matchup so far this season, 19-14.


Unlikely:  A Steelers loss at home to the Browns (1-14) in Week 17 would also do the trick. The Browns might be the worst team in the league but did get their first win of the season Saturday against the Chargers. The Steelers will probably be two-touchdown favorites.

Completely far-fetched: If both the Ravens-Bengals and Steelers-Browns games ended in ties, the Ravens would make the postseason -- albeit in one of the strangest ways ever. Ties are unlikely, let alone two ties within the same division when one of the matchups seems lopsided. ... Another far-fetched scenario that would get the Ravens to the postseason is the Ravens tying the Steelers and then beating the Bengals in Week 17 while the Steelers lose to the Browns.

Certainly the Ravens are focused on only the first scenario -- winning the two remaining games they have left on the schedule. They still control whether they make the playoffs or not, which is an enviable situation, even if the two remaining games aren't easy.