The Baltimore Ravens determine their own fate in the playoffs in Week 17. A win against the Cincinnati Bengals would send Baltimore back to the NFL after the season.
The Ravens (10-5) enter Week 17 in possession of the number 6 seed in the AFC. Thanks to an extensive play-off field, seven teams from each conference make it to the postseason. Baltimore could finish anywhere from No. 5 to No. 8 in the AFC, so Sunday’s game with the Bengals is vital.
The Ravens also compete for the wildcard spots with the Titans, Colts, Browns and Dolphins. While one Tennessee/Indianapolis will claim the AFC South title, there will still be four teams battling it out for three wildcard spots in Week 17.
Here are the different ways Baltimore can earn a playoff spot in Week 17.
MORE: NFL Playoff Scenarios for 14 Teams in Week 17
1. Ravens beat Bengals
This is the easiest way for Baltimore to make it through the postseason for sure, and it shouldn’t be that hard to pull off. The Bengals have been playing better lately, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh acknowledged during a press conference on Monday. Cincinnati even beat Deshaun Watson and Houston in Week 16. But Lamar Jackson is a huge advantage over Bengals quarterback Brandon Allen.
When these teams met on October 11, Baltimore won 27-3. That was healthy with Joe Burrow. Now both Burrow and Joe Mixon are out for the season, leaving Cincinnati severely understaffed for Week 17.
The Bengalis also have a lot less to play for. A loss will at least help their draft position for 2021. Sure, the players on the field won’t be playing to lose, but the Ravens certainly have more to this game.
2. Browns lose to Steelers
Although the Browns are playing for their lives in the playoffs and the Steelers are just playing for the seeding after clinching the AFC North in Week 16, Cleveland could definitely lose this game. Pittsburgh came back from 17 points behind in the second half to beat the Colts in Week 16, a huge boost for the Steelers.
The biggest thing that could work in Cleveland’s favor is a limited amount of seeding mobility for Pittsburgh, which could lead to Mike Tomlin choosing to put some key contributors to rest. That would help the Browns come back from a loss to the Jets.
If the Browns and Ravens both tie, that would also earn a playoff berth in Baltimore.
3. Colts losing to Jaguars
This is highly unlikely as the Jags will have nothing to play for after making the 2021 No. 1 overall pick and the right to select Trevor Lawrence.
Philip Rivers has been very good with his one-year contract for the Colts. When these teams played in November, Indianapolis won handily 33-13.
The Ravens can also make it through the postseason if they and the Colts both tie.
The other two tie scenarios involving Baltimore require a draw by Raven and a loss by either the Titans or the Dolphins.