After a 20-19 loss Sunday to the Los Angeles Rams, the Ravens have only faint playoff hopes entering the final week of the regular season. At 8-8, their path to a postseason berth is long and complicated and unlikely.
But it does exist.
Here’s what the Ravens, losers of five straight, need over the next six days to secure a wild-card berth and advance to the playoffs for the fourth straight year.
- A win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Enough said. The Ravens’ second-half swoon started with their narrow Week 13 loss in Pittsburgh, and their season would end with another defeat in Baltimore.
- At least one loss by the Cleveland Browns. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a loss Monday night to the Steelers or a loss next Sunday to the AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals. In this scenario, a 9-8 Browns team would best a 9-8 Ravens team because of its superior division record.
- A Jacksonville Jaguars win over the Indianapolis Colts. Of all the conditions necessary for the Ravens to advance, this is easily the least likely to materialize. The Jaguars are 2-14 and have little to play for. The Colts are 9-7 and would clinch a playoff berth with a win in Jacksonville.
- A Las Vegas Raiders win over the Los Angeles Chargers. A Raiders home win would clinch a playoff spot for Las Vegas and push the Ravens into a three-way tie with the Chargers and Colts at 9-8. With the Ravens having beaten both earlier this season, they’d win the head-to-head tiebreaker.
- A New England Patriots win over the Miami Dolphins. Yes, the Dolphins were eliminated from playoff contention Sunday after a blowout loss to the Tennessee Titans. But if they beat the Patriots, they would join the Ravens, Chargers and Colts here at 9-8. That would nix the head-to-head tiebreaker — the Ravens lost to Miami in Week 10 — and lead to the next tiebreaker: conference record. In that case, Indianapolis would advance.
According to FiveThirtyEight’s projections, the Ravens’ playoff odds are down to 2%. Now you can see why.