BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The Ravens despite an easy 40-16 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, didn't get much help on Sunday in terms of their playoff hopes. Each of the teams in front of them in the playoff race, the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins all won leaving Baltimore on the outside looking in at the playoff picture with two games left to play.
The good news is that the Ravens have the easiest remaining games left of any of those teams. They face the Giants at home on Sunday before finishing the year with a trip to Cincinnati on January 3. Those teams hold a combined 8-19-1 which is a .285 winning percentage following the Bengals stunning win over the Steelers on Monday night. The Ravens' competition for a Wild Card spot all have remaining opponents with better winning percentages.
Browns- @Jets, vs. PIT (.444 win%)
Colts- @PIT, vs. JAX (.444 win%)
Titans- @GB, @HOU (.535 win%)
Dolphins- @LV, vs. BUF (.642 win%)
In addition, the projection models like the Ravens chances of making the postseason. FiveThirtyEight gives them an 86 percent chance and ESPN's FPI gives them an 84.6 percent chance. It is worth noting that both of those percentages dropped by about three percent following the Steelers loss. But, despite that rosy outlook, the Ravens don't control their own playoff hopes. They need help to make the postseason. If the Ravens win out and each of the other four do as well, Baltimore would miss the playoffs at 11-5.
So, what does need to happen in order for the Ravens to make it? Well, the easiest way would be to win each of their final two games and see one of the teams above them lose one.
In the worst case scenario where the team loses to the Giants this weekend, they could still make the playoffs. It would require the Dolphins losing one of their two games. In that scenario, where the Ravens and Dolphins both finish 10-6 but if the Ravens lose to the Giants, they would get the final Wild Card spot because they would own the better strength of victory rating.
There is also the possibility that the Ravens get higher than the seventh seed based on the results of the next two weeks. They could get as high as the fifth seed if the following happens.
-The Ravens beat both the Giants and Bengals
-The Dolphins lose to the Raiders or Bills
-The Colts lose to the Steelers in Week 16
-The Browns lose to the Steelers in Week 17
In that scenario, the Ravens, Browns and Colts would all finish 11-5. But, the Ravens hold the tiebreaker over the Browns by virtue of head-to-head wins. And, they would have the strength of victory tiebreaker over the Colts. In this case, the Ravens would find themselves with a rematch against the Tennessee Titans or a potential game against the Buffalo Bills in the 4 vs. 5 matchup.
Based on the current win probabilities for each game by FiveThirtyEight, that scenario is likely.
The road to the playoffs starts first with the Ravens welcoming the Giants to M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, December 27 at 1:00 p.m. EST.
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