What will it take for the Ravens to get a No. 2 seed? That and other burning questions, answered.

What record do the Ravens need to secure a No. 2 seed?

Jen Badie, editor: The Ravens are in the driver’s seat for that No. 2 seed and the coveted bye, but the Chiefs are their main rival and hold the tiebreaker, so I’m going to go with 12-4 to be on the safe side. Kansas City still has to play the Patriots, so it’s doubtful it would win out, putting it at 11-5.

C.J. Doon, editor: 12-4 would likely lock it up, but 11-5 might get it done. The Chiefs loom, but Kansas City would need to go 4-1 against the Raiders, Patriots, Broncos, Bears and Chargers and have the Ravens finish 3-3 or worse. The Texans, Colts and Raiders, all sitting at 6-4, would need to finish 5-1 over that same stretch to catch up. With the way the Ravens are playing, it’s more likely that they surpass the Patriots for the top seed than slip to the wild-card round.


Daniel Oyefusi, reporter: Just looking at the current standings, 12-4 should be good enough to lock up the No. 2 seed. 11-5 might get it done too, but it’s hard to see the Ravens losing three of their last six games.

Peter Schmuck, columnist: Considering the fact that the Chiefs hold the head-to-head tiebreaker and have an easier remaining schedule, the Ravens might need to go 13-3. If the Patriots beat the Chiefs at home in Week 14, it gets a lot easier.


Jonas Shaffer, reporter: A 12-4 record has usually been enough to get a first-round bye, but with the Ravens’ margin for error in the conference, 11-5 might be enough. Unless Kansas City catches fire over the next few weeks, it’ll be tough for another team to catch them.

Childs Walker reporter: History says that 12-4 would do it, but given the struggles of every non-Patriots team in the conference, 11-5 would give the Ravens a very good shot. The Chiefs hold a tiebreaker advantage, because they beat the Ravens in Week 3, so that’s one impediment.

Should we be worried about the Ravens special teams?

Badie: Parts of it, which is unusual for a John Harbaugh team. Sure, Justin Tucker has uncharacteristically missed a field goal and an extra point in recent weeks, but he’s the best in the business and he shouldn’t be a concern. The Ravens didn’t even need Sam Koch to punt against Houston, but he’s landed more than half of his punts this season inside the 20. The return game is a different story. Cyrus Jones muffed a punt during the Patriots game, leading to a fumble, and was released. De’Anthony Thomas, in his second game as a Raven, muffed a punt against the Texans, though he was able to recover it. The Ravens can’t afford to lose the ball in a crucial situation. Plus, they are getting little yardage on their returns. That part of the special teams performance is concerning.

Doon: It certainly hasn’t looked pretty, with new addition De’Anthony Thomas not showing much in the return game Sunday and muffing a punt. But the Ravens rank fourth in special teams DVOA, a formula from Football Outsiders that compares a team’s performance to a league baseline based on situation. Kicker Justin Tucker is the NFL’s best, and punter Sam Koch has dropped 11 of his 21 punts inside the 20. A Jacoby Jones-type returner would be nice, but more of a luxury than a necessity at this point.

Oyefusi: Yes and no. Justin Tucker missed a field goal for the first time this season in the team’s win against the Texans and he’s had some close calls in recent weeks. De’Anthony Thomas hasn’t provided much spark as a returner in two games and the kickoff coverage has been less than stellar. The Ravens haven’t lost a game yet because of special teams, but it’s surprisingly the weakest unit on a surging team.

Schmuck: Not really. Justin Tucker has not been his perfect self the past few weeks, but he’s still the best kicker in the NFL. The Ravens return game also has hit some rough spots, which is an area they are trying to clean up, but it’s not exactly a crisis situation.

Shaffer: Not really. There’s no need to worry about Sam Koch, because the Ravens never punt. No kicker is perfect, but you can count on Justin Tucker to suss out whatever’s been off the past few weeks. De’Anthony Thomas should’ve done better with the punt he muffed Sunday, but he’s more a dynamic runner than Cyrus Jones.

Walker: No. Football Outsiders’ efficiency rankings still say they’re very good overall. Justin Tucker remains the best kicker in the world despite his miss Sunday, and Sam Koch is still a master at burying opposing returners when he gets a rare chance to punt. The Ravens have not been dynamic on returns, but De’Anthony Thomas hasn’t had many chances.

Is Don “Wink” Martindale or Greg Roman more attractive as a potential head coaching candidate?

Badie: Tough call, because, well … Lamar Jackson. But I’m going to go with Martindale. He has had to deal with several high-profile injuries (Young, Jefferson, Smith, Pierce, Williams) and has moved new pieces into the defense immediately and almost seamlessly. The defense has made Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson look almost ordinary. It’s seen a complete turnaround over the season and is reminding us of the Ravens defenses of years past.

Doon: Roman. Leave aside the NFL for a second. If you’re an athletic director at a Power 5 school with a struggling football program, wouldn’t you want to throw money at a guy who has helped build the most creative offense in the NFL? How does “he helped Lamar Jackson become an MVP candidate” sound as a recruiting pitch to top QB prospects? He’ll probably end up leading an NFL team, but if Roman finds a situation and a location he likes in college, at the right price, maybe that’s enough to lure him to his first head coaching gig.

Oyefusi: Both coordinators possess unique qualities that make them attractive as head coaching candidates. In a league that increasingly seems to be searching for the next great offensive mind, Martindale’s defensive prowess shouldn’t be overlooked. But with an influx of dual-threat quarterbacks, teams might try to replicate the success of Lamar Jackson and could try to poach Roman in an effort to do so.

Schmuck: Obviously, this depends on the teams that will be out there looking for new guys during the offseason. All other things being equal, considering the shift toward mobile quarterbacks and the job he has done with Lamar Jackson, I would lean toward Roman.


Shaffer: I think Roman has done his job better maybe than any coordinator in the NFL this season. He’s taken good pieces and made them into a great offense, led by a unique quarterback playing in the perfect system. But Martindale has a system with perhaps a broader appeal. With his personality and track record, he’ll have a great resume.

Walker: Martindale has done an outstanding job molding his group on the fly despite significant roster turnover. But the NFL is an offense-first league, and any team with thoughts of drafting a dual-threat quarterback has to be salivating at the prospect of installing Roman’s creative running attack. So Roman by a hair.

After the Steelers and Browns’ Week 11 brawl, which game should worry the Ravens more: at Cleveland in Week 16 or at home against Pittsburgh in Week 17?

Badie: Even though the Ravens lost to the Browns at home early in the season, I’m going to go with the Steelers. Cleveland’s rush defense looks less scary without Myles Garrett, who was leading the team with 18 quarterback hits and 10 sacks. And this is a different Ravens team than it was during Week 4, with new defensive players, not to mention more confidence. It seems unlikely, but there’s still a possibility that the Week 17 game could mean something to the Steelers (5-5) in the wild-card race. And they still have a top 12 defense.


Doon: Cleveland. The Browns might be undisciplined and a year away from AFC contention, but we saw what they can look like at their best in a 40-25 win in Baltimore in Week 4. The Ravens haven’t lost since and Cleveland is without its best player for the rest of the season after Myles Garrett snapped on live television, but the Browns’ talent alone can be a headache to deal with. Plus, no one should be worried about quarterback Mason Rudolph after what he’s shown in Pittsburgh. After throwing four interceptions last Thursday, he’s second to last in the league among qualified passers in Total QBR (35.2).

Oyefusi: Pittsburgh. Both teams aren’t catching up to the Ravens in the AFC North, but the Steelers have an easy schedule and their defense is playing as well as any in the NFL right now. Cleveland will likely be playing the rest of the season without its best player, Myles Garrett. That brawl was a microcosm of the Browns’ entire season: A talented team that can’t get out of its own way.

Schmuck: That’s easy. The Browns are the one team that has bullied the Ravens this year and that game will be on the road. Both the Steelers and Browns have been decimated by the injuries and/or suspensions that came out of last Thursday night’s game, but those two matchups are a month away, so the impact of all that is uncertain.

Shaffer: The Ravens might not have much to play for by Week 17, but the Steelers are the more formidable opponent. They have enough talent on their defensive line to give the Ravens headaches like they did in Week 5. Mason Rudolph is no one’s idea of a great quarterback, but his line usually gives him great protection.

Walker: Given the Ravens’ recent performances and their three-game lead in the AFC North, neither game should worry them terribly. But the Browns game looms as a larger concern because it’s on the road, and Cleveland’s roster is still stocked with dynamic offensive players. The game is also more likely to hold significant stakes as the Ravens push for a first-round bye that might already be decided by Week 17.

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