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Ravens' Updated Playoff Paths and Possible Opponents

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The Ravens punch their ticket to the playoffs with a win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17. That is all they are focused on right now.

But the rest of us pore over every scenario and look ahead to possible playoff opponents.

First, let's look at how Baltimore can get in after its Week 16 win over the New York Giants:

Paths to the Playoffs in Week 17

  • Ravens win (vs. Cincinnati Bengals)
  • Cleveland Browns loss (vs. Pittsburgh Steelers)
  • Indianapolis Colts loss (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars)
  • Tie + Miami Dolphins loss (vs. Buffalo Bills)
  • Tie + Tennessee Titans loss (vs. Houston Texans)
  • Tie + Browns tie
  • Tie + Colts tie

The Ravens, Dolphins, Browns and Colts are all tied at 10-5, but Baltimore holds the edge over the Browns and Colts because of head-to-head tiebreakers. So the Ravens would get in ahead of either one of them if they finish 10-6.

Possible Wild-Card Opponents

If the Ravens win Sunday, they will be either the No. 5 or No. 6 seed. They can only be the No. 7 seed with a loss and one of the other loss/tie scenarios above.

Baltimore currently is the No. 6 seed (behind Miami) and will remain there if both teams win. According to the ESPN Power Football Index, the Ravens' most likely outcome is entering as a No. 5 seed, which would mean the Dolphins lose to the Bills in Week 17.

The No. 2 seed will face the No. 7 seed, the No. 3 seed will play the No. 6 and No. 4 seed will take on the No. 5 seed. The Kansas City Chiefs (14-1) have locked up the No. 1 seed and lone playoff bye.

Here's where Baltimore would be seeded based on every possible Week 17 result.

There are so many combinations, but one thing is known. If they make the playoffs, the Ravens will head to either Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Tennessee or Indianapolis in the wild-card round.

Here's a look at the Ravens' possible wild-card opponents with the Bills still to play (vs. New England Patriots) tonight:

No. 2 – Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3)

The Steelers snapped a three-game losing streak with a 17-point comeback win over the Colts. They are battling with the Bills between the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds. Pittsburgh's offense has been in a funk lately, as they are struggling to run the ball. They came back against the Colts with big pass plays and defensive turnovers, which were their trademark during their 11-0 start to the season.
vs. Ravens: Pittsburgh swept the regular-season series this season. The Ravens dominated in total yards in their first meeting, but four turnovers were their undoing. In the second meeting at Heinz Field, Baltimore was missing numerous starters (including Lamar Jackson) and nearly pulled off an upset, falling 19-14.

No. 3 – Buffalo Bills (11-3)

The Bills will jump to the No. 2 spot if they beat the Patriots on Monday Night Football because they have a head-to-head win over the Steelers. Buffalo has won seven of its last eight games and quarterback Josh Allen is having a monster season paired with wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who could take the league's receiving lead tonight.
vs. Ravens: Have not faced each other in 2020. The Ravens won in Buffalo, 24-17, last season.

No. 4 – Tennessee Titans (10-5)

The Titans are clinging to the AFC South division lead over the Colts and they will face a scrappy Texans team to close the season. They could fall out of the playoffs entirely with a loss next week and wins by the Ravens, Dolphins and Colts. Tennessee has the NFL's leading rusher in Derrick Henry and quarterback Ryan Tannehill was hot before a rough outing in Green Bay's snow on Sunday night. Their defense has been the Achilles heel, as it's ranked 29th in the NFL.
vs. Ravens: Tennessee pulled off a late comeback to beat the Ravens in overtime, 30-24, at M&T Bank Stadium on Nov. 22. Plus, the Titans were the team that knocked the top-seeded Ravens out of the playoffs last year.

No. 8 – Indianapolis Colts (10-5)

The Colts are currently on the outside looking in on the playoffs but need just a victory over the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars (1-14) and for one team ahead of them (Titans, Dolphins, Ravens, Browns) to slip up in Week 17. If the Colts win and Titans lose, they are the AFC South champions and would take the No. 4 seed.
vs. Ravens: Baltimore beat the Colts, 24-10, in Indianapolis on Nov. 8. An early defensive touchdown by Chuck Clark turned the momentum and the Ravens shut the Colts out in the second half. Indianapolis outgained the Ravens in total yards but lost the turnover battle.

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