After a pair of dream results Sunday, the Ravens have the inside track to earning the AFC’s top playoff seed for the first time in franchise history.
“It just means you control your destiny, in that sense, but they don’t have a No. 1 seed until they do the seeding,” coach John Harbaugh said at his weekly news conference Monday. “So that’s four weeks away.”
According to FiveThirtyEight, the Ravens have an NFL-best 95% chance of earning a top-two seed and first-round bye in the postseason. New England’s odds are next best (85%), followed in the AFC by the Kansas City Chiefs (9%), who are 8-4 but have a tiebreaker over the Ravens and face the Patriots on the road this Sunday.
Houston (8-4) is the current third seed in the AFC, having already beaten the Chiefs this season. The Bills (9-3), who host the Ravens on Sunday in Buffalo, have the conference’s third-best record but are slotted as the fifth seed. They would need to jump New England in the AFC East standings to earn a top-four seed and avoid a wild-card berth.
The Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) are in position for the second wild-card spot after a crucial AFC North win Sunday over the Cleveland Browns (5-7). The Tennessee Titans (7-5), Oakland Raiders (6-6) and Indianapolis Colts (6-6) are hot on their trail.
The Ravens finish their season at Buffalo, at home against the New York Jets (4-8), at Cleveland and then back home against the Steelers. After Sunday’s showdown with Kansas City, New England will head to Cincinnati to face the Bengals (1-11) before finishing the regular season with a pair of home games against the Bills and Miami Dolphins (3-9).
The Ravens can clinch their second consecutive AFC North title this weekend with a win over the Bills and a Steelers loss or tie against the Cardinals (3-8-1) in Arizona; or a tie against the Bills and a Steelers loss. The Ravens would clinch a playoff berth with either a win; a tie and a Titans loss or tie; a tie and a Texans loss or tie; or a Texans loss, a Colts loss or tie and a Raiders-Titans tie.