Breaking Down Ravens' Five Biggest Threats
Here's a legitimate question that deserves consideration.
"Many continue to scoff at any mention of the Ravens' chances in the AFC's muddled wild-card race," wrote WNST's Luke Jones. "But if not the Ravens, who do you like in the race for the second wild card?"
Here's the thing. The five other teams that are currently in contention for that final playoff spot have critics scoffing at their chances too. But one of the five teams WILL advance, and as safety Eric Weddle said, "Why not us?"
Anything can happen, but right now, five of the AFC's six playoff seeds are on lockdown. According to ESPN Analytics, the Pittsburgh Steelers (99.5 percent chance of making the playoffs), New England Patriots (99.3 percent), Jacksonville Jaguars (98.5 percent), Kansas City Chiefs (97 percent) and Tennessee Titans (77.9 percent) are very likely headed to the postseason.
The team with the best odds to grab the final spot? The Ravens, at 50-50.
They'll have fierce competition for it though. Below is an outline of the Ravens' chances of advancing, along with a breakdown of their biggest threats, based on ESPN Analytics and commentary from some of the website's writers.
Ravens (4-5): 50.5 percent chance of making the playoffs*
Remaining opponents: @Packers, Texans, Lions, @Steelers, @Browns, Colts, Bengals
*"The Ravens have far better playoff odds than the AFC's other four-win teams because they've played far better than the AFC's other four-win teams," wrote Aaron Schatz. "The offense is lousy, 24th in the league, but the Ravens are No. 2 in defense and No. 3 in special teams. They also play four of their final seven games at home."
Buffalo Bills (5-4): 22.5 percentRemaining opponents: @Chargers, @Chiefs, Patriots, Colts, Dolphins, @Patriots, @Dolphins
"The Bills are going in the wrong direction as they enter the most geographically difficult portion of their season," wrote ESPN's Kevin Seifert. "Their defense has allowed 81 points in its past two games, both losses. They'll travel cross country in Week 11 to play at the Chargers, and then halfway across to take on the Chiefs. Let's just say that the sixth spot in the AFC is far from settled."
San Diego Chargers (3-6): 13.4 percentRemaining opponents: Bills, @Cowboys, Cleveland, Redskins, @Chiefs, @Jets, Raiders
"Don't know if you've heard this before, but the Chargers are atrocious at finishing games," wrote Eric Williams. "Since the start of last season, the Chargers have lost an NFL-high eight games after holding a lead at any point in the fourth quarter."
Oakland Raiders: 12.9 percentRemaining opponents: Patriots, Broncos, Giants, @Chiefs, Cowboys, @Eagles, @Chargers
"There has been plenty of worry about the inconsistency of the Oakland offense, but the Raiders rank fifth in offensive DVOA," wrote Schatz. "The real problem is the defense, which dropped to last place this week. Somehow, nine games into the season, the Raiders still haven't managed to intercept a pass. The Raiders also have the ninth-hardest remaining schedule in the league, with three of their last four games on the road."
Miami Dolphins (4-5): 10.5 percent chance BEFORE their loss to the Carolina Panthers last night
*Remaining opponents: Bucs, @Patriots, Broncos, Patriots, @Bills, @Chiefs, Bills
*"The Miami Dolphins made one thing very clear Monday night: They are not ready for prime time," wrote James Walker. "The Dolphins continue to shrink this season when the NFL's spotlight is at its brightest. They fell to 0-3 in primetime games with a 45-21 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football. … Miami has been very streaky this season. The team has lost three in a row after winning the prior three games. Now the Dolphins' playoff hopes aren't looking strong in a weakened AFC. Miami must play five of its last seven games against teams with winning records. That includes a road game against the Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) and four combined games against the Buffalo Bills (5-4) and the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots (7-2)."
New York Jets (4-6): Less than 1 percent BEFORE their loss to the Tampa Bay Bucs Sunday*Remaining opponents: Panthers, Chiefs, @Broncos, @Saints, Chargers, @Patriots
*"This whole 'Jets might actually be contenders' thing has been cute, but the Jets have played the league's second-easiest schedule to this point, with five of nine games coming at home. For the rest of the season, they play the 12th-hardest schedule," wrote Schatz.
Ravens as Healthy as They've Been All Season; Packers Continue to Lose Starters
As if losing starting All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers wasn't enough, now the Green Bay Packers will be without their top running back. And they're not even sure that their backup running back will be ready either.
While the injuries continue to pile up for Green Bay, the Ravens are coming off their bye and are expected to be as healthy as they've been since … training camp?
The Ravens haven't used injuries as an excuse for losing five of their last seven games, but that doesn't mean they're not thrilled to see healthy weapons back on the field for their playoff push either. Head Coach John Harbaugh made little attempt to hide his excitement yesterday.
"I could probably stand up here and give you the politically correct coach-speak and say that nothing changes, but I'll be honest with you, I'm excited about the fact that we have our offensive weapons back — the ones that are still with us," Harbaugh said Monday. "I feel like we are more full strength than we have been all year. We finally have a chance to be full strength … so I'm excited about that. We need guys on the field. We need our guys out there making plays, and our guys want to be out there making plays. So, I'm more excited now probably than at any point in time all year that way."
While Harbaugh said he doesn't know whether Danny Woodhead will for sure play, the running back is expected by many media members to be back for the Packers game, along with running back Terrance West (calf), wide receiver/returner Michael Campanaro (shoulder), tight end Nick Boyle (toe) and key special teams player Chuck Clark (hamstring).
Other players that haven't missed games recently, but have been fighting through injuries include wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (shoulder), tight end Benjamin Watson (knee/calf), left tackle Ronnie Stanley (shoulder), safety Eric Weddle (shoulder/ankle) and guard Matt Skura (knee).
Ravens on Pace to Receive Third-Round Comp Pick; Could Ozzie Draft a Stud WR From His Alma Mater?
General Manager Ozzie Newsome is still expected to receive an extra third-round compensatory pick in the upcoming draft, according to OverTheCap.com's Nick Korte.
Apparently, the league's compensatory formula is considered set once Week 10 of the NFL season has been completed.
The extra third-rounder is expected to be awarded to Baltimore after losing starting right tackle Rick Wagner to the Detroit Lions during free agency. After signing a reported five-year, $47.5 million contract, Wagner has started every game for the Lions so far this season. The Ravens lost five unrestricted free agents during the offseason, but most of them were offset by signing three unrestricted free agents of their own.
Baltimore lost Wagner, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, defensive end Lawrence Guy, wide receiver Kamar Aiken and offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse. The Ravens signed safety Tony Jefferson, cornerback Brandon Carr and Woodhead. Ducasse's $1.16 million deal was too low to qualify for a comp pick.
The Ravens have led the league in awarded compensatory picks over the years, so getting just one is considered low for Baltimore. That said, Newsome has shown a willingness to part ways with lower picks for the right free agents. But he's been less flexible with offsetting higher third-round picks.
By the way, with several teams' playoff hopes already dashed, mock drafts are heating up. One that got traction while LFW was on bye week last week was from Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer. He sees Newsome drafting from a familiar well with Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley.
"Baltimore's still chasing some of its mistakes at receiver, so they take a guy who's a pretty sure thing from a program they know well," wrote Breer.
Bobby Rainey's Departure Signals Michael Campanaro Is Healthy The Ravens were awarded tackle off waiversafter they put in a claim for the third-year veteran who was cut by the Los Angeles Rams. To make room for him, Baltimore cut running back Bobby Rainey.
Rainey didn't get much action on offense; he was the team's kick returner for the past four weeks. So, cutting Raining is a signal that their regular returner is healthy.
Campanaro has been sidelined for the past two games after a shoulder injury suffered in Week 7 against the Minnesota Vikings.
Baltimore needed more depth at offensive tackle, as current starting guard James Hurst is the top backup, but now the team has nine offensive linemen.
"One could be jettisoned when [the] Ravens promote Woodhead to the active roster, perhaps later this week," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.