These week 15 games have been awesome, in all aspects, for the Ravens. Not only did they destroy a mildly mediocre team (more on that later), as I’m typing this, the teams that were their main competitors for playoff spots (Jacksonville, New York Jets, Miami and Denver) all lost, and the Steelers are losing by 6 with a minute remaining. Now at 8-6, and owning the tiebreaker against the Broncos, the Ravens have the #5 seed if the season ended right now. Even better, the Bengals lost, so there’s a more than unlikely chance that they could still capture the AFC North. How cool would that be, after laying eggs to Cincinatti twice, Indianpolis and most recently, Green Bay. (As I type this, Santonio Holmes just erupted into Packers territory. Uh oh.)
Today’s game was another great performance. I was chatting with Jeff Wolfson on Twitter, and we basically agreed that this team, although playing really bad teams, is really starting to play to their potential. Ray Rice busted off some huge gains and Joe Flacco handled and controlled the game as well as you could ask. The first half started off quickly for the Ravens (finally), but Earl Bennett had his return touchdown and that seemed to deflate the spirit of the team a little bit. Jay Cutler was as bad, or possibly even worse, than we thought he would be. How many interceptions did he throw? 46? It seemed like every time he threw the ball, it was ill-advised. Again though, the Ravens defense allowed the quarterback to scramble too much. That needs to stop next week, because Roethlisberger is very good at avoiding pressure and making something out of nothing.
Pittsburgh just threw a touchdown. Without any time left. Last play of the game. Damn. Anyways, looking at the playoff picture, let’s break it down by team.
- Denver Broncos: Currently 6th seed (in playoffs). 8-6 record, 6-5 in conference. With home games against Philly and KC on the schedule, the Broncos should be able to win one, if not both games. If they do win both, they are in. 10 wins is automatically in, with the way this week broke out.
- Miami Dolphins: Currently 7th, 7-7 record, 5-5 in conference, and own the tiebreaker against Jacksonville. Playing Houston (7-7) and Pittsburgh (7-7), they could control the way the playoffs turn out. If they win out, either the Ravens or Broncos must lose.
- New York Jets: Currently 8th, 7-7 record, 5-5 in conference. With games against Indy and Cincy, it’s unlikely that they’ll win if each of those team’s play all of their starters. If it comes down to week 17, and a Cincy loss could mean a Ravens winning the AFC North scenario, that could shake up quite a bit.
Slotting in behind those teams, in this order, are Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Houston. All of those teams do have legitimate shots at spots in the playoffs.
Just as a benchmark, 10 wins means an AFC team is in the playoffs. Right now, the only 3 teams that have the chance of a Wild Card bid who could get 10 wins are Baltimore and Denver. If both of those teams finish with 9 wins, Baltimore beats out Denver.
All in all, if this team makes a deep run in the playoffs, this week could be considered the most important one, or the turning point.