The Baltimore Ravens have been to the postseason ten times in their teams history. Six of those instances (2000, ‘01, ‘08-’10, 2014) have come via a wild-card spot. The team has made the most of it as they have won ten of their fifteen playoff games entering as a wild-card. Garnering their well-deserved reputation of being road warriors by beating such teams as the Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins twice, New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs, and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens won their first of two Super Bowls in 2000.
The Ravens have done a good job as a wild-card team, but the road will be a lot tougher for them this year, compared to 2016. A year ago, you had three teams from the AFC West vouching for a playoff spot and only one of them was going to get the division while another would get one of the two wild-card spots. The Chiefs won the division, while the Raiders settled for the fifth seed. Teams like the Dolphins, Titans, and Buffalo Bills were also gunning for the last wild-card spot, along with the Ravens. Baltimore actually beat the Bills and Dolphins last season which gave them an edge, but even after Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill went down with a torn ACL in week 14, the Dolphins still recovered and won their next two games. Beating the New York Jets and Bills, while the Ravens were beaten by the Steelers a day after Miami's victory over Buffalo. The scenario catapulted the Dolphins to the final wild-card spot and their first playoff appearance since 2008 when they were knocked out in the first round by the Ravens; the first playoff victory for John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco.
There will be a lot of up-and-coming teams in the AFC looking to build off their 2016 campaigns. Even teams like the Cincinnati Bengals will look to bounce back and compete after an injury riddled season. Lets take a look at some of the Ravens biggest threats for a wild-card spot In 2017. Interestingly enough, Baltimore will play every team listed below this year except one. Making those games even more important for the Ravens playoff chances.
For the fifth year in a row, the Dolphins and Ravens will meet in the regular season. The game will be on prime-time Thursday Night Football in late-October. Before 2016, Miami would fall short of expectations to make the playoffs and it looked like it would be the same old story when the Dolphins got off to a 1-4 start. However, the team turned their season around winning nine of their last eleven games to get in the postseason. The team possesses a good young offense coached by Adam Gase and led by bruising running back Jay Ajayi, and playmaking wide receivers Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and Kenny Stills. Not to mention a good young offensive line that got better as the season went along. Concerns however start with the improvement of the defense, which was a unit that gave up more yards than any team in franchise history. Another concern is how Tannehill will be coming off his ACL injury. Ravens fans saw Flacco struggle through the first eight games of the season after he suffered a torn ACL the year before, but after officially being a year removed from the injury, he played much better in the second half of 2016. Tannehill, like Flacco, will wear a knee brace. With the Ravens sure to be competing with Pittsburgh for the AFC North, and the Patriots pretty much locking up the AFC East the second the offseason begins, the Thursday night clash between Baltimore and Miami will be very crucial to the AFC playoff picture.
Last season, the Raiders finally returned to their winning ways after years of just being a flat out laughingstock after showing glimpses of what was to come in 2015. It was a shame that quarterback Derek Carr went down with an injury because we will truly never know how Oakland would've done in the teams first playoff appearance since 2002 with their franchise quarterback on the field. With the team moving to Las Vegas in a few years, they will look to finish what they started a year ago and try to bring home the franchises first Lombardi trophy since 1983. The team is stacked with talent and they got even better by poaching running back Marshawn Lynch out of retirement. The Ravens have lost the last two meetings to the Raiders and will face them yet again for the third consecutive year week 5 in Oakland.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs meanwhile, fly under the radar yet again, this time as the defending AFC West division champions. While the team swept the Raiders last season, they were one-and-done on their home field to the Steelers in the divisional round. The team also hopes they have drafted quarterback Alex Smith's replacement in Patrick Mahomes. Until that time comes, Kansas City still has a team that can make a run at the Super Bowl with the talent they have and are led by one of the best head coaches in the game in Andy Reid. The Chiefs have a strong defense led by Eric Berry, Marcus Peters, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. They also hope that Derrick Johnson can recover well from an Achilles injury. Offensively, the team has talent with Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Jeremy Maclin, and Spencer Ware. Of course, it all falls on Alex Smith. If Smith can take the next step, the Chiefs can win it all, but Smith has been in the NFL since 2005. By this point, you know what you have and Kansas City knew that when they selected Mahomes.
The Titans may be one of the most interesting and fun teams to watch in not only the AFC, but in the NFL as a whole. Coming off a 9-7 season, the Titans enter 2017 with playoff hopes for the first time in several years after falling just one game short of the playoffs in 2016. Like the Dolphins before, the team hasn't made the postseason since 2008, and not only do they have a shot at the wild-card, they can legitimately win this division due to the Houston Texans issues at quarterback. The Titans have one of the best young quarterbacks in the game today in Marcus Mariota, who is coming off a broken right fibula. After a disappointing 2015 in Philadelphia, running back Demarco Murray rebounded in a big way by posting 1,287 rushing yards and 12 total touchdowns. Rookie wide receiver Corey Davis should become the number one target for Mariota and be in contention for the Rookie Of The Year award. Their defense got better up front by signing nose tackle Sylvester Williams and they also return key defensive players like Jurrell Casey and Brian Orakpo. Tennessee will also need to improve on turnovers as they only had twelve interceptions last year. The Ravens will travel to Nashville, a place that is always tough to win at, on the first week of November. If Baltimore wants to get in to the tournament, they have to pull out games like this on the road against a playoff caliber team.
While the objective for the Ravens every year is to win the AFC North, there is always a plan B, and the team has fully taken advantage of this over the years. Baltimore will have to match up well with these teams, and we can't forget the fact that the Ravens play the Texans and Indianapolis Colts at M&T Bank Stadium this year as well. Two teams who are also going to be competing for the AFC South and a wild-card. The Ravens have players like Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs, Marshal Yanda, Dennis Pitta and Eric Weddle who have experience when it comes to a seasons playoff race. Having a head coach like John Harbaugh is also very important. The AFC has the ultimate powerhouse with the Patriots, but the race to see who in the conference could beat them will be something to watch for in 2017. Competition brings out the best in everyone.
Who do you think is the Ravens biggest threat for a wild-card.
This poll is closed
Kansas City Chiefs