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Playoff Outlook: Ravens Likely Need to Win Out


Sunday's victory kept the Ravens squarely in the playoff hunt, but they need to keep winning.

The Ravens (8-6) may need to win their final two games to make the postseason. They can finish 10-6 by winning their final road game Saturday against the Los Angeles Chargers, and by winning Dec. 30 at home against the Cleveland Browns.

At 10-6, the Ravens would almost be guaranteed at least a wild card spot. They would also win the AFC North at 10-6 if the Steelers lost either of their last two games.

Baltimore could only miss the playoffs at 10-6 if the Colts or Titans claim the AFC South crown and Steelers win the AFC North. The Houston Texans (10-4) would have to lose their final two games, and the Colts or Titans would have to win their final two games. In that unlikely scenario, the Texans would be the sixth seed at 10-6, winning the tiebreaker over the Ravens.

A 9-7 finish probably won't get the Ravens into the playoffs.

The Steelers (8-5-1) won a huge game Sunday against the New England Patriots to stay ½ game in front of the Ravens in the AFC North. If the Ravens finish 9-7, the Steelers only need one victory in their final two games to win the AFC North. The Steelers have a tough road game Sunday against the New Orleans Saints (11-2), but Pittsburgh closes its season at home against the Cincinnati Bengals (6-8).

In terms of the wild-card picture, the Colts and Titans both sit at 8-6 like the Ravens. If Indianapolis and Tennessee win in Week 16 against the Giants and Redskins, respectively, then either the Colts or Titans will be guaranteed to get to 10-6 because they play each other in Week 17.

If the Ravens get to 10-6, they would win tiebreakers over the Titans (head-to-head) or Colts (conference record) for the sixth wild-card playoff spot.

Essentially, Saturday's game in Los Angeles is like a playoff game for the Ravens. If they win, their playoff chances will be very much alive heading into Week 17.

"I think our mindset right now is just to focus on L.A. and get ready for a Saturday night showdown," said Ravens wide receiver Willie Snead IV. "We feel like we're in position to control everything, and right now we're just trying to take it game by game and prepare ourselves and get ready to win these last two games."

A loss to the Chargers would severely damage the Ravens' playoff chances. There is even a scenario where the Ravens could be eliminated from playoff contention this weekend. If the Ravens lose to the Chargers, and if the Steelers, Colts, and Titans all win, then the Ravens will be eliminated.

Right now, the Ravens are focused on beating the Chargers, knowing that if they get to 10-6, the playoff odds are strongly in their favor.

"All we have to do is win and we should be in," Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey said.

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