It was easy to discuss the Ravens' playoff picture three weeks ago. The Ravens were sitting atop the AFC North and looking like one of the top teams in the NFL. Of course, winning games against Carolina, Tampa Bay and Atlanta don't exactly offer much confidence at this point. Wins over the Steelers and Browns are still quality victories for the franchise.
At 5-4, the Ravens are 11th in the AFC playoff race. While that could seem daunting, teams fourth through 11th either have three or four losses. In the AFC North race, all of the teams are still right there with one another.
|AFC North team||Record||Division|
|1. Cincinnati Bengals||5-2-1||2-0-0|
|2. Pittsburgh Steelers||6-3-0||2-2-0|
|3. Cleveland Browns||5-3-0||1-2-0|
|4. Baltimore Ravens||5-4-0||2-3-0|
The Ravens have one more AFC North team on the schedule, which is against the Browns. As far as tiebreakers are concerned, that win could become extremely important. The Ravens and Browns don't play again until the season-finale in Week 17.
The AFC playoff picture looks like this. As far as tiebreakers are concerned, it's not good for the Ravens at the moment. But plenty can change over the next eight weeks and seven games.
|1. New England Patriots (AFC East leader)||7-2-0||2-1-0|
|2. Denver Broncos (AFC West leader)||6-2-0||2-0-0|
|3. Cincinnati Bengals (AFC North leader)||5-2-1||2-0-0|
|4. Indianapolis Colts (AFC South leader)||6-3-0||3-0-0|
|5. Pittsburgh Steelers||6-3-0||2-2-0|
|6. Kansas City Chiefs||5-3-0||1-1-0|
|7. Cleveland Browns||5-3-0||1-2-0|
|8. Buffalo Bills||5-3-0||2-1-0|
|9. Miami Dolphins||5-3-0||1-1-0|
|10. San Diego Chargers||5-4-0||1-2-0|
|11. Baltimore Ravens||5-4-0||2-3-0|
|12. Houston Texans||4-5-0||1-1-0|
|13. Tennessee Titans||2-6-0||1-2-0|
|14. New York Jets||1-8-0||0-2-0|
|15. Jacksonville Jaguars||1-8-0||0-2-0|
|16. Oakland Raiders||0-8-0||0-1-0|
One thing to note here: Most teams have played two divisional games. The Steelers have played four and the Ravens have played five. The Ravens' 5-4 record includes five games against opponents incredibly familiar with the Ravens. Sure, the Ravens would like to win each divisional game, but going 3-3-0 (if the Ravens can defeat the Browns late in the year) would put them in a good position for the playoffs.
Winnable games against the Titans, Jaguars and Texans are still on the schedule, which should (in theory) get the Ravens to eight wins. From there, games against the Saints, Chargers, Dolphins and Browns become the ones that will either make or break the Ravens from here on out.
While the Ravens have slipped in the postseason race for the time being, they should be around when the final few weeks of the regular season approach.