For the first time since 2007, the Ravens will be at home when the postseason begins, their season ending with a 34-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. With their elimination, the Ravens become the fourth reigning Super Bowl champion in the past eight years to not make the playoffs the following season.
The Ravens (8-7) need a victory over the AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals and a loss by either the Miami Dolphins to the New York Jets or the San Diego Chargers to the Kansas City Chiefs to make the postseason for a sixth straight year.
Andy Dalton is looking like an altogether different quarterback for the AFC North division champion Cincinnati Bengals heading into Sunday's regular season finale against the Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium.
Following an ugly loss to the New England Patriots, cornerback Jimmy Smith says the Ravens' focus immediately shifted toward a pivotal regular-season finale against the AFC North division champion Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens were embarrassed, 41-7, by the Patriots on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium in the most lopsided loss in the John Harbaugh era. "We've already forgot about it," Smith said. "That's the NFL. Things like that happen. We've moved on to the Bengals."
Five days out from a game the Ravens must win to make the playoffs and salvage a frustrating season, quarterback Joe Flacco said his sprained knee is sore after Sunday's loss but that it is in much better shape than it was a week ago.
Some of the Ravens either didn't know or didn't care about all that needed to happen — at least not at that moment — for them to make the playoffs. A 34-point loss to one of your biggest rivals has a way of making everything else seem insignificant.
The Ravens' pivotal regular-season road finale against the Cincinnati Bengals remains at 1 p.m., according to the NFL. The Ravens' kickoff time was unchanged as well as the Miami Dolphins' 1 p.m. game against the New York Jets. The San Diego Chargers play the Kansas City Chiefs at 4:25 p.m. Under the NFL's flex scheduling for the final weekend of the regular season, the Dallas Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles game will be played at 8:30 p.m. on NBC.
A 41-7 loss to the Patriots in front of an announced 71,433 at M&T Bank Stadium leaves the Ravens needing help as they head to the final week of the regular season looking to make the playoffs for a sixth straight time.
Though it was pretty obvious a week ago that the Ravens' visit to Detroit for a Monday Night Football matchup against the Lions presented another in a long series of "must-win" situations, the game has gotten progressively more significant as Week 15 has gone along.
This might be a good day to go out and finally knock out the rest of those leaves in the backyard...or head over to Home Depot and stock up on that phony rock salt that you're going to need a lot of next month, because you'd have to be kicking butt in your fantasy league right now to care much about most of today's NFL matchups.
Although there are five more games remaining on the schedule, the Ravens wouldn't qualify for the playoffs if the season was over today. That's because the Ravens trail two teams for the sixth and final playoff berth in the AFC: the Titans and Steelers heading into Thursday night's rematch against the Steelers.
Since 1990, the year the NFL went to the six-team playoff format, nine teams have made the playoffs after starting the season 3-5, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals both did it last year, each winning seven of their final eight regular-season games to head into the postseason at 10-6.
When Dean Pees and the Ravens defense watched tape of their Week 2 win over the Cleveland Browns, they saw Brandon Weeden at quarterback and Trent Richardson carrying the load at running back. Wide receiver Josh Gordon was nowhere to be found as he was serving his four-game league suspension.