The Baltimore Ravens currently have a 81-percent chance to make the NFL playoffs, according to 538’s projection model. The three remaining games on their regular season schedule - at Cleveland, vs Indianapolis and vs Cincinnati - provide a great opportunity to win out. These three upcoming opponents have combined to post an 8-31 record this season.
If the Ravens do win all three, they would finish with a 10-6 record, virtually guaranteeing a postseason bid. Nevertheless, the NFL proves every weekend that unexpected upsets do occur. And Baltimore has been an unpredictable team for much of the year.
Which remaining game poses the Ravens with their toughest challenge?
Week 15 at Cleveland
Although the Ravens are favored by a touchdown against the winless Browns, this contest could be their most difficult. Cleveland matches up relatively well against Baltimore. Their defense is better at stopping the run than the pass, which could pose problems for the Ravens offense. The return of talented receiver Josh Gordon gives the Browns with an explosive weapon to use against Baltimore’s pass defense that was recently shredded in Pittsburgh without Jimmy Smith.
The Browns played one of their best games of the year on Sunday, eventually losing to Green Bay in overtime. The Ravens 24-10 win over Cleveland is Week 2 was closer than it appeared, as the Browns actually outgained Baltimore in yardage but lost due to a minus-three turnover differential. Motivation could also be a factor, obviously the Browns do not want to finish 0-16 this season. And of course, home field always provides an advantage.
Week 16 vs Indianapolis
Former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano appears to be on his way out for the 3-10 Colts. Losers of four straight, their 30th ranked defense has been hit hard by injuries. Jacoby Brissett has performed reasonably well in place of Andrew Luck, but Indianapolis has allowed a league worst 52 sacks this season. The Ravens should be able to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball against the Colts.
Indianapolis will have the benefit of extra rest because they play Denver this Thursday. They did beat the Ravens 20-13 in 2014, and have won 10 of 14 in the all-time series against Baltimore. And their coaching staff’s familiarity with Joe Flacco may be useful. Still, the Ravens should be healthy home favorites for this contest.
Week 17 vs Cincinnati
Baltimore beatdown the Bengals in Cincinnati by a 20 point margin in Week 1. They intercepted Andy Dalton four times to open the year, and Dalton struggled last week in a home loss to the Bears. The Bengals have been forced to place some of their best players on injured reserve, while other key performers are battling injuries that could linger.
After losing to the Steelers on Monday night in Week 13, Cincinnati may have quit on the season. On the other hand, this may finally be the year Marvin Lewis is replaced, which could possibly give the team extra incentive to finish the season with a victory. Or they might pack it in completely. Worth noting, the Bengals have won six of their last eight against Baltimore. Their cover-2 defense often gives Flacco trouble, and A.J. Green has had some massive games in Baltimore. The Ravens should be favored here as well, but divisional games are always tricky.
Which remaining game will be the Ravens biggest test?
This poll is closed