The Baltimore Ravens have managed to crawl all the way up to earn the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoff picture, but these next few games will be absolutely crucial.
After narrowly beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 14, the final stretch of the season will put the Ravens’ roster depth and team mettle to the test. Lamar Jackson remains sidelined due to a knee injury, and backup Tyler Huntley remains in concussion protocol.
Baltimore may have to roll out undrafted rookie Anthony Brown as their starter for Week 15 against the Cleveland Browns in a game that has huge divisional implications.
Lucky for the Ravens, the rest of their schedule doesn’t appear to be that difficult save for a Week 18 showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Here’s what the AFC playoff picture looks like heading into Week 15.
Ravens’ playoff picture heading into Week 15
1. Buffalo Bills (10-3)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3)
3. Baltimore Ravens (9-4)
4. Tennessee Titans (7-6)
5. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4)
6. Miami Dolphins (8-5)
7. New England Patriots (7-6)
In the hunt: Los Angeles Chargers (7-6), New York Jets (7-6)
If the season ended today, the Ravens would host the Miami Dolphins in the Wild Card round.
The Kansas City Chiefs would face the New England Patriots, and the Cincinnati Bengals would play the Tennessee Titans. The Bills, who currently have the same record as the Chiefs but hold the head-to-head tiebreaker, would get a bye.
Baltimore should hope the Bengals suffer at least one loss in their next three games. Cincy is, after all, playing against tough teams in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots, and Buffalo Bills.
The Ravens currently sit comfortably as the No. 3 seed, but they also have a chance to take the No. 1 seed or drop down a few pegs depending on how Week 15 plays out.
Beating the Browns on Saturday will be not only an impressive display of grit and resilience, but it will be key to staying one step ahead of the Bengals in the hot and heavy AFC North race. Let’s see what happens.