Despite losing their fifth straight game and falling to .500 with a record of 8-8 following a 20-19 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the Baltimore Ravens still have a chance to make it to the postseason with one game left to play in the regular season. They are currently in the hunt sitting on the outside looking in of the AFC playoff standings behind a handful of teams, some of which they have victories over.
Their defeat this Sunday secured the first AFC North title for the Cincinnati Bengals since 2015 after they beat the Kansas City Chiefs. However, with a lot of help coupled with a win over their archrival Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 18, they could extend their streak of consecutive seasons with a playoff berth to four years in a row.
Here is what must happen next week in addition to beating the Steelers for them to get into the dance:
Cleveland Browns lose one of final two
The Dolphins have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Ravens after beating them in Week 10. They had their seven-game winning streak snapped in Week 17 after a 34-3 lopsided loss to the AFC leading Tennessee Titans.
The Raiders also have a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Ravens after they beat them in the season opener but since Baltimore holds a head-to-head tiebreaker over Los Angeles after winning their Week 6 matchup. The up and down Chargers are coming off a 34-13 blowout win over the Denver Broncos in Week 17 but if they finish with the same record, the Ravens will get the nod over them if everything else falls their way. Las Vegas did drop the first meeting with their division foes 28-14 in Week 4 but have won three straight including a 23-20 win over the Colts in Week 17.
The Browns and the Ravens split their season series but if Cleveland wins out, they would have a better division and conference record than the Ravens including a sweep of the Bengals and a series split with the Steelers, The Browns will be in Pittsburgh for Ben Roethlisberger’s last home game on Monday night and will host the Cincinnati in their regular season finale. They narrowly lost to the Steelers 15-10 in Week 8 and blew out the Bengals 41-16 in Week 9.
While the first three outcomes are far from inconceivable, the third is highly unlikely given the ineptitude and inconsistency of the Jaguars on both sides of the ball for the vast majority of the season as evidenced by their 2-14 record and 227-446 point differential. Jacksonville dropped their first meeting with their divisional opponent by less than a touchdown in a 23-17 defeat in Week 10 but couldn’t complete a second-half comeback after trailing 20-9 at halftime.
Divisional games always have a chance to be unpredictably more competitive than either teams’ record suggests and all outcomes are in the realm of possibilities. Even though their playoff probabilities took a major blow on Sunday, they have yet to be eliminated from contention with one more week left to play. Anything can happen.