It’s the mad dash at the end of the season for just seven playoff spots. And with just two games remaining, teams like the Baltimore Ravens — who are on the outside looking in — need to make a final push to earn a spot in the AFC playoff picture.
After beating the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 15, the Ravens sit at 9-5 and looking better by the week. However, with some losses earlier in the season, Baltimore is in need of a little help in addition to winning out if they want to be in the playoffs.
Let’s take a look at how the AFC playoff picture looks entering the next to last week of the season.
No. 1 Seed – Kansas City Chiefs (13-1)
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Kansas City rolled to yet another victory in Week 15, this time over the New Orleans Saints. It was the Chiefs’ ninth win in their last nine matches. Kansas City has already wrapped up the AFC West. A victory over the Atlanta Falcons this week will secure the No. 1 seed for Andy Reid’s men, as well as the crucial first-round bye.
No. 2 Seed – Buffalo Bills (11-3)
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Like the Chiefs, the Bills have already won their division. The Week 15 results ensured their first AFC East title since 1995. The milestone ends a run in which the Indianapolis Colts — a team that no longer plays in the AFC East — were more recent division winners than Buffalo. Buffalo faces the New England Patriots in Week 16 and need a victory to keep hold of the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoff picture. They are not mathematically out of the race for the top seed in the conference, yet. But it would take an awful lot of things to go wrong for the Chiefs to surrender this spot to them.
No. 3 Seed – Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3)
Pittsburgh Steelers At Cincinnati Bengals Dec 21
The Steelers are suddenly reeling on the back of a three-game losing streak following their 11-0 start to the season. They have been held under 20 points in their last four games, while they have allowed 23 or more in each of their three defeats. Pittsburgh has clinched a playoff berth already, but their chances of earning the No. 1 seed in the AFC have all but vanished. If they can snap their losing streak on Sunday and overcome the Colts, they will secure their first AFC North championship since 2017. But the Cleveland Browns are hot on their heels.
No. 4 Seed – Tennessee Titans (10-4)
The Titans’ offense has come to the party at just the right point of the season. The AFC South leaders have scored at least 30 points in each of their last four games while racking up 400-plus yards in their last five. Tennessee swept the Detroit Lions aside 46-25 in Week 15 to stay ahead of Indianapolis in the division. A Titans’ victory on Sunday over the Green Bay Packers would see them earn a playoff berth for the second season in a row. A win, coupled with a Colts loss to the Steelers, in Week 16 would see Tennessee claim its first division title since 2008. If the Packers beat the Titans, a loss for either the Miami Dolphins or the Baltimore Ravens would also be enough for them to earn a postseason place.
No. 5 Seed – Cleveland Browns (10-4)
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The longest current drought in terms of postseason play could be coming to an end in 2020. The Browns’ 20-6 victory over the New York Giants in Week 15 was their 10th win of the season, the first double-digit win campaign for the team since 2007. A playoff spot can be earned in Week 16, giving the Browns a spot in the postseason for the first time since 2002. The Browns need to beat the New York Jets on Sunday, then scoreboard watch. A loss or tie for the Ravens or Dolphins, or a Colts loss to the Steelers, would be enough to get the Browns into “The Tournament,” as coaching great Bill Parcells called it.
No. 6 Seed – Indianapolis Colts (10-4)
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The Colts, trailing the Titans in the AFC South, continued to take care of what they can control in Week 15. They held off a spirited Houston Texans side 27-20 for their third win in a row, keeping them in place for a Wild Card berth. Indianapolis is still waiting for Tennessee to slip up for a potential chance to win the division and earn a home playoff game in 2020. But they can at the least secure a Wild Card place in Week 16 if they beat the listless Steelers and either the Dolphins or Ravens lose their games.
No. 7 Seed – Miami Dolphins (9-5)
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The Dolphins have won nine games in a season for just the second time since 2008, following their 22-12 victory over the Patriots in Week 15. They remain in second place in the AFC East and retain a tenuous grip on the last AFC Wild Card spot. There are no clinching scenarios for the Dolphins this week. And indeed they will likely have to fight tooth and nail for the rest of the season if they are to book a place in the postseason. Miami travels to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 16 before ending the regular season with a trip to Buffalo.
How the Ravens can get into the playoffs
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The Ravens, at 9-5, are reliant on results elsewhere if they are to secure a Wild Card berth in 2020. Still, they are doing all they can as they ride a three-game winning streak into Week 16. Baltimore can’t clinch a playoff berth this week but they can jump the fence from the outside to the inside with a win and a little help. Brent Dawson of Filmstudy took a look at the numbers via FiveThirtyEight to figure out the Ravens’ playoff probability under every scenario. https://twitter.com/RavensNumbers/status/1341057349893709825 But if you don’t want to get into the weeds, Baltimore needs one of three things to happen this week to move into the Wild Card seeds:
Ravens win, Dolphins lose to Raiders
Ravens win, Browns lose to Jets
Ravens win, Colts lose to Steelers
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