With just two games to go, the playoff picture is becoming clearer and clearer. Using the ESPN playoff machine, I’ve simulated many different scenarios for the Ravens, attempting to find as many routes to the playoffs as possible. Let’s start with the clearest route.
Scenario: Ravens go 2-0 in final two games
This is the clearest scenario for the Ravens. If Baltimore goes 2-0 in its final two games, it will make the playoffs. Not only will the Ravens make the playoffs if they go 2-0, but they will have the fifth seed in the AFC no matter what else happens. Even if Buffalo goes 2-0 (@NE, @MIA) and if Tennessee goes 2-0 (vs LAR, vs JAX), the Ravens will still get the fifth seed. If both Tennessee and Buffalo win out and both finish 10-6, the Bills get in as the sixth seed.
Correction: Tennessee would win the AFC South if they go 2-0 and Jacksonville goes 0-2. Buffalo would miss the playoffs if they go 2-0, but Tenneseee wins the AFC South.
The Ravens would need help in this scenario. Fortunately, with tough schedules ahead for the Bills and Titans, the Ravens may get the help they need. To make the playoffs, the Ravens would need Tennessee to go 0-2 and finish 8-8. The Ravens can afford to have Buffalo win a game, though it doesn’t matter which of the two games Buffalo wins. If this happens, then Baltimore will be in as the sixth seed at 9-7.
The Ravens can still get the fifth seed in this scenario. If Buffalo also goes 0-2, then the Ravens hop up to the fifth seed. The Chargers take the sixth seed in that case if they win out and finish 9-7. If the Chargers go 1-1 (or 0-2, it doesn’t matter), Miami takes the sixth seed if they win out. If Miami goes 1-1 (they do play at Kansas City in Week 16), then the 8-8 Titans slide in. According to the New York Times’ playoff machine there is a 69% chance the Ravens make the playoffs based on 9,141 simulations. A 48% chance of getting the sixth seed, and a 21% chance of getting the fifth seed.
Correction: Buffalo gets the fifth seed if they go 9-7, and beat Miami.
Scenario: Ravens lose to Colts, beat the Bengals
Exactly the same as if the Ravens beat the Colts and lose to the Bengals.
Scenario: Ravens go 0-2 in final two games
This is a worst case scenario, but the Ravens can still make the playoffs if they go 0-2 and finish 8-8. For this to happen, the Ravens would need a lot of help. The Ravens would need Tennessee to win at least one of their final two remaining games, it doesn’t matter which, or if they win both. The Ravens then need the Bills to go 0-2 over their final two games. Next, Baltimore needs Miami to win out, beating Kansas City and Buffalo. Finally, the Ravens need the Chargers to lose out. If all of this happens, the Ravens will make the playoffs as the sixth seed. According to the New York Times’ playoff machine, there is just a 3% chance of that happening, based on 6,600 simulations.