The Baltimore Ravens could end up in as many as three different playoff seeds this season, each of which depend on the result of the postponed Bills-Bengals game.
If the game is resumed at a later time and the Bengals win, Cincinnati wins the AFC North and the No. 3 seed. If the Bengals lose, and the Ravens also beat them in Week 18, the Ravens would wrap up the division and take the top seed.
There is one more situation which would work in the Bengals’ favor: the Bills-Bengals game could be declared a no-contest and be cancelled altogether. That would give Week 18’s AFC North matchup less importance since Cincinnati would already have clinched the division based on winning percentage (even with a Week 18 loss to the Ravens, they would have one fewer loss on their record).
Per Pro Football Talk, “current momentum is pointing toward not resuming the Bills-Bengals game, and declaring it a no contest,” which isn’t too surprising considering the unique situation.
NFL’s Ian Rapoport also echoed the same sentiment, believing that the league ruling the game a tie or no contest appears to be the most likely scenario.
The Week 18 schedule will stay the same, and playoff seeding would be solely based on the results of those games. If that’s the case, the Ravens can’t win the division and can only lock up either the No. 5 or No. 6 seed in the AFC.
Potential Bills-Bengals no-contest ruling gives Ravens a disadvantage
Now, this is not the time for Ravens fans to grumble and complain. The Ravens aren’t exactly taking flight in this crucial final stretch of the season as the team hasn’t enjoyed a good spell for the last four weeks.
Once primed to conquer the AFC North, the Ravens had a relatively remaining easy schedule after the bye week, yet the team hasn’t been the same since Jackson’s injury and there’s still no word on when the star quarterback will return.
Baltimore can’t blame a small scheduling exception for losing them the division when in reality, they lost it a while ago with their two humiliating defeats against the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Their offense is a wasteland. Morale continues to sink. The Ravens’ defense has been the team’s only saving grace, and as much as the “defense wins championships” adage rings true, it doesn’t apply when Baltimore is scoring fewer than 17 points a game.
Whatever the league decides to do with the Bills-Bengals game, the Ravens’ goal doesn’t change: beat the Bengals in Week 18 and end on the season on a high note.