As the losses and injuries have piled up, Ravens coach John Harbaugh has remained stoic, refusing to concede anything. It's the exact stance and mentality that you'd expect from a highly-successful and competitive football coach.
However, the reality is that the Ravens are 4-8, and what minute postseason hopes they had were extinguished in Sunday's 15-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Even while vowing that his team would continue to play hard and give itself a chance to win games, the eternally-optimistic Harbaugh finally acknowledged Monday the poor odds of making the playoffs.
"Miracles do happen in terms of outcomes, but I don't care about any of that other than the fact that we're going to go out there and win a football game this week," Harbaugh said.
The Ravens enter the final quarter of the regular season with a matchup against the two-time defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. After that, they'll play three more games against either a playoff lock or a postseason hopeful.
The Ravens will need to win all four games to avoid the first losing season in Harbaugh's eight-season tenure. They'll need to win one game to avoid matching the 1996 Ravens, who went 4-12, for the worst regular-season record in franchise history.
With the Cleveland Browns' struggles, it seems highly unlikely that the Ravens — on pace to pick fifth in the 2016 NFL draft — will fall low enough to contend for the first overall pick. However, given the Ravens' injury situation, especially on the offensive side, everything else is in play.
Here's a look at where the Ravens stand, compared to the other NFL teams that have four wins or fewer. Teams are listed in their current draft order:
Remaining games: vs. 49ers (4-8), at Seahawks (7-5), at Chiefs (7-5), vs. Steelers (7-5)
Outlook: The Browns' offense could get a boost with Johnny Manziel's return to the starting quarterback job. But Cleveland has lost seven games in a row, been outscored by an average of 16.7 points during the losing streak and has a tough closing schedule. They are the clear frontrunner for the first overall pick and might be headed for another coaching change, as well.
Remaining games: at Jets (7-5), at Patriots (10-2), vs. Texans (6-6), at Colts (6-6)
Outlook: The Teneesee Titans remain worth keeping an eye on, if only because of the continued development of rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota. However, it's hard to see them moving too much further back in the first round. Their remaining schedule is tough, and this remains an extremely flawed team with a decision to make at head coach.
Remaining games: at Chiefs (7-5), vs. Dolphins (5-7), at Raiders (5-7), at Broncos (5-2)
Outlook: This team's year has mirrored the Ravens' in a lot of ways, as injuries and inconsistent play have conspired to sink a once-promising season. They do have some winnable games remaining, and Philip Rivers is one of the game's most competitive players. Mike McCoy also might be coaching for his job, so motivation remains.
Remaining games: vs. Colts (6-6), vs. Falcons (6-6), at Saints (4-8), at Texans (6-6)
Outlook: Despite some strong individual performances, the Jacksonville Jaguars haven't made the expected strides this year. They have some nice pieces in place, but clearly remain a ways away. A relatively easy late-season schedule might not be enough to stop them from picking within the top five for a fifth straight year.
Remaining games: vs. Seahawks (7-5), vs. Chiefs (7-5), vs. Steelers (7-5), at Bengals (10-2)
Outlook: Losers of eight games by a total of 34 points, the Ravens have proven that they're capable of playing with anybody. Harbaugh's team is flawed and mistake prone, but the effort by the players is unquestioned. However, with all their injuries, especially on the offensive end, it's hard to foresee them being able to beat a good and motivated team at this point. The three straight home games are nice, but the opposition is formidable the rest of the way.
Remaining games: at Buccaneers (6-6), vs. Lions (4-8), vs. Jaguars (4-8), at Falcons (6-6)
Outlook: The enigmatic New Orleans Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons and had a late lead over the undefeated Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Yet, the Washington Redskins beat them by 33 points and they've lost four straight games. Their remaining schedule is soft, so they should have chances for a few more wins. But for that to happen, their defense would have to stop somebody.
Remaining games: at Packers (8-4), vs. Jets (7-5), at Bills (6-6), vs. Redskins (5-7)
Outlook: After their late victory over the Redskins Monday night, the Dallas Cowboys are a game out of first place in the awful NFC East. So, they're not quite thinking about the draft just yet, though maybe they should. Their remaining schedule is extremely tough and starting quarterback Tony Romo isn't walking back in that huddle anytime soon.
Remaining games: at Browns (2-10), vs. Bengals (10-2), at Lions (6-6), vs. Rams (4-8)
Outlook: Quarterback Blaine Gabbert has actually played OK for the San Francisco 49ers since replacing Colin Kaepernick, and his long overtime touchdown pass to wide receiver Torrey Smith upset the Chicago Bears on Sunday. San Francisco is playing well enough that the 49ers might be favorites in a couple of games the rest of the way. They should finish with a top-10 pick, but it's hard to foresee them landing in the top five.
Remaining games: at Rams (4-8), at Saints (4-8), vs. 49ers (4-8), at Bears (5-7).
Outlook: The Detroit Lions are playing far better than any other team on this list. Had they not been victimized by Aaron Rodgers' Hail Mary game-winning touchdown pass last week, they still would be fringe playoff contenders. Their schedule the rest of the way could hardly be any easier. The bet here is that they play their way out of the top 10, but will it be enough to save coach Jim Caldwell's job?
Remaining games: vs. Lions (6-6), vs. Buccaneers (6-6), at Seahawks (7-5), at 49ers (4-8)
Outlook: They are playing so poorly that Jeff Fisher felt it necessary to fire his offensive coordinator this week with four games remaining in an already-lost season. The Rams have lost five straight games and Fisher's status going forward has to be evaluated. They have easily been one of the league's biggest disappointments.
- Baltimore Ravens
- San Francisco 49ers
- Detroit Lions
- John Harbaugh
- NFL Draft
- Cleveland Browns
- New Orleans Saints
- Seattle Seahawks
- Los Angeles Rams
- Atlanta Falcons
- Indianapolis Colts
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Washington Redskins
- Chicago Bears
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Dallas Cowboys
- Houston Texans
- Pittsburgh Steelers