clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Tom Brady's 4 game suspension looms large for Ravens AFC playoff chances

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

With New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady electing not to take the deflate gate saga to the U.S. Supreme Court, he will accept his four-game suspension by the NFL for allegedly using deflated footballs in 2014 AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts to gain an advantage. Brady will miss the first four games of the 2016 NFL regular season and as we all know the drop off in production between him and Jimmy Garoppolo at the quarterback position for the Patriots is huge.

The latest turn of events not only provides the Ravens with a better chance of  making the playoffs in 2016 but if the team is able to play to its talent level, the Ravens could be sitting pretty for an opportunity for home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

As good as the Patriots have been over the previous 16 seasons with four Super Bowl trophies to show for it, the organization has had the luxury of playing in the AFC East which has not been a very competitive division in the grand scheme of things. In the AFC East, you have four teams consisting of the Patriots, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills.

The Jets haven't made the playoffs since 2010, the Dolphins haven't made the playoffs since 2008 and the Bills haven't made the playoffs since 1999. From 2011-2015, the AFC East is the only division in the NFL that hasn't had two teams make the playoffs during that time frame. It is safe to say that the Patriots have had an easy road to the postseason over the years.

The Ravens, on the other hand, have played in arguably the toughest division in the NFL over the last 16 seasons. Since 2000, the AFC North is the only division in the NFL that has three teams which have made the playoffs at least seven times. The Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers have made the playoffs 10 times each and the Cincinnati Bengals have made the playoffs seven times during that time frame.

The Ravens haven't had time to take a rest and coast through a division the way the Patriots have. But it didn't stop the Ravens from winning two Super Bowl trophies over the last 16 seasons and with the Patriots possibly facing a 0-4 record to start the season, the Ravens would need to take advantage of its opening schedule to help the Patriots sink even further.

For the first four games of the 2016 regular season, the Ravens face the following teams:

Of course, every season is new and we don't know which teams will be good or bad. However, recent history may be a strong indicator as to how well the four teams above will play this season. The last time any of the first four teams on the Ravens opening 2016 regular season schedule made the playoffs was the Jaguars all the way back in 2007.

Given the pedigree of the Ravens organization for being one of the elite organizations in the NFL for quite some time and given the talent level the Ravens have on offense, defense and special teams, barring a serious amount of injuries, anything less than a 4-0 record to start the year would be unacceptable. The Ravens goal as of now isn't just to win the AFC North, but to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

That's right, the Ravens have never been a number one seed in the AFC playoffs in franchise history. The Ravens have been a two seed, four seed, five seed and a six seed in the past. The Ravens have pretty much done almost everything there is to do in the playoffs except become a number one seed, number three seed and host an AFC championship game. The opportunity to clinch home field advantage may be clearer than ever.

Of course, the Ravens still have to deal with the Steelers and the Bengals in its own division but if the Ravens can take care of both of them, not much would be standing in the Ravens way.