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Ravens' Path to the Playoffs Got More Difficult This Weekend


The Ravens didn't play Sunday, but their path to the playoffs grew more arduous as four teams ahead of them in the AFC wild-card hunt all won.

If the Ravens (6-5) are going to make the playoffs, they now may need to get to 11 victories, which would mean winning all five of their remaining games, starting with Tuesday night against the Dallas Cowboys.

A preseason Super Bowl favorite, Baltimore has dropped three straight games amidst widespread injuries and a COVID-19 outbreak. The Ravens are getting more players back, but now find themselves on the outside of the playoff window looking in.

NBC News' Steve Kornacki broke down the playoff picture based off the Pro Football Focus statistical projections, and the Ravens' playoff chances have now dipped below 50 percent (47 percent).

The Las Vegas Raiders escaped an upset from the winless New York Jets with a 31-28 last-second miracle. The Jets called an all-out blitz on third-and-10 with 13 seconds left, leaving rookie wide receiver Henry Ruggs III in a one-on-one situation for the game-winning 46-yard touchdown.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said he “couldn’t believe” the Jets blitzed in that situation. The Jets reportedly fired Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams Monday morning.

The Cleveland Browns (9-3) exploded on offense for a statement win over the AFC South leading Tennessee Titans, 41-35. The Miami Dolphins (8-4) beat the Joe Burrow-less Bengals, 19-7. The Colts (8-4) held off the Houston Texans, 26-20.

Despite an expanded playoff field to seven teams in each conference, the AFC is particularly strong this year. There are already seven teams with at least eight wins. Conversely, the NFC has just four such teams.

The AFC North is the best division in football with the undefeated Steelers (11-0) and Browns (9-3) leading the way and the Ravens in third place.

Only two teams in NFL history during a 16-game season (the 1985 Denver Broncos and 2008 New England Patriots) have ever failed to reach the postseason with an 11-5 record. And that was with six playoff qualifiers instead of seven.

The Ravens still have the "easiest" remaining scheduled based off opposing teams' schedules. After the Cowboys, Baltimore has the Browns, Jaguars (1-11), Giants (5-7), and Bengals (2-9-1). That sets up a huge game against Cleveland – winners of four straight – next Monday night.

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