With their 20-10 win over the Cleveland Browns yesterday, the Baltimore Ravens guaranteed themselves a spot in the playoffs for the third consecutive season. If the Indianapolis Colts win next week and repeat for the umpteenth time as AFC South division winner, they will join the Ravens and the Philadelphia Eagles as the only teams in the NFL who have made the post season the past three years in a row. The Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots and New York Jets can't even say that, as they all missed out in one of the past three years.
So where do the Ravens stand in terms of where they will end up in the seeding and ultimately determine who and where they will play the second weekend in January? That will not be decided until late Sunday afternoon after the Ravens host the Cincinnati Bengals while the Steelers play at the Browns. If the Steelers win, the Ravens are the AFC's fifth seed and will go on the road to play either the AFC South winner (Colts, Jaguars) or the Kansas City Chiefs (AFC West winner). How that happens is a bit more complicated.
Let's break it down in more detail to see what the possibilities are next week.:
The Steelers win and they are the AFC North winners and get the second seed in the AFC and a first round bye in the playoffs along with #1 seed New England Patriots. The Ravens will then be the fifth seed and go on the road, but where?
If the Chiefs win Sunday, they will be the third seed and host the 6th seed, which then will be the New York Jets. If the Colts win, they will take the AFC South title and host the Ravens. If the Colts lose and the Jaguars win, then the Ravens will travel to Jacksonville to play the Jags in the first round of the playoffs.
However,....(deep breath)...if the Chiefs lose and the Colts win, then Indy becomes the third seed by virtue of their head-to-head win over KC in the regular season and the Ravens will go to Kansas City while the Jets go to Indy.
But....(another deep breath)....if the Steelers lose and the Ravens win, Baltimore will win the AFC North and get the #2 seed and first round Bye while the Steelers then become the 6th seed and the Jets move up to the 5th seed due to their win over Pittsburgh. That means the two Wild Card games will have New York and Pittsburgh going to either Kansas City, Indianapolis or Jacksonville depending on where those guys finish up.
Got it now? There will be a quiz on this in the morning! Don't worry about it, as it will be dissected all week long and not decided until well into the early evening next Sunday night when all the AFC regular season games have been competed involving the aforementioned teams. Whew, I'm exhausted!