Before we examine the Ravens chances of winning their final four games of the season, here's where the AFC playoff picture stands at the moment.
|1. New England Patriots (AFC East leader)||9-3-0||2-1-0|
|2. Denver Broncos (AFC West leader)||9-3-0||4-0-0|
|3. Cincinnati Bengals (AFC North leader)||8-3-1||2-1-0|
|4. Indianapolis Colts (AFC South leader)||8-4-0||4-0-0|
|5. San Diego Chargers (Wild Card)||8-4-0||2-2-0|
|6. Miami Dolphins (Wild Card)||7-5-0||3-1-0|
|7. Kansas City Chiefs||7-5-0||1-3-0|
|8. Buffalo Bills||7-5-0||3-2-0|
|9. Baltimore Ravens||7-5-0||2-3-0|
|10. Pittsburgh Steelers||7-5-0||2-2-0|
|11. Cleveland Browns||7-5-0||2-2-0
|12. Houston Texans||6-6-0||2-1-0|
|13. Tennessee Titans||2-10-0||1-3-0|
|14. New York Jets||2-10-0||0-4-0|
|15. Jacksonville Jaguars||2-10-0||0-3-0|
|16. Oakland Raiders||1-11-0||1-3-0|
The Dolphins helped themselves with Monday night's rally against the Jets. The Ravens could have used a Dolphins loss since the two teams play this coming Sunday.
But onto Baltimore now:
With the Ravens in ninth place and behind fellow 7-5 teams Bufalo, Kansas City and Miami, this team can't afford any missteps moving forward. Fortunately, the schedule for the final month of the season appears — at least on paper — in Baltimore's favor.
Following this week's game against Miami, the Ravens play, the Jaguars, Texans and Browns, in that order. The next three weeks, especially, are favorable. If Brian Hoyer somehow starts the season finale, the Ravens could be in very good shape. However, it looks like the Browns are poised to turn to Johnny Manziel, which could go one way or the other.
The middle two games against the Jaguars and Texans should be wins. You never know in the NFL, but the Ravens will be favored in both games. The Dolphins are probably the toughest team of the remaining four games, though it all depends on which offense shows up. Ryan Tannehill isn't Philip Rivers but he also isn't Zach Mettenberger.
Chances are that if the Ravens can win their next four, they'll get in the postseason. And the schedule does shake out nicely, all things considered. But now's the time for the Ravens to pick up the sense of urgency and take matters into their own hands.