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AFC playoff picture: Ravens can chart their own path

Baltimore Ravens v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

In defeating the Saints 34-27 on Monday night, the Ravens completed a sweep of the NFC South and improved their record to 7-4.

Now, the Ravens embark on a five-game stretch against AFC foes to close the regular season. And in many ways, the Ravens’ playoff fate is now squarely in their hands.

Of the Ravens’ final five games, four are against conference contenders, including Sunday’s pivotal matchup with the Chargers. At the moment, the Chargers are one spot ahead of the Ravens in the AFC seeding, but Baltimore can snag the oh-so-important head-to-head tiebreaker with a victory. Matchups with the Dolphins (December 7), Texans (December 21) and Browns (December 28) offer similar opportunities. The Ravens also draw feeble Jacksonville in Baltimore on December 14, giving them a chance to bolster their AFC record.

After failing to make the postseason in 2013, the Ravens are very much in the mix to be playing in January. And if they knock off San Diego, Miami and Cleveland, they will be tough to keep out, for they will have inflicted real some pain upon their rivals.

Here’s an up-to-date look at how the AFC’s top 12 playoff contenders are seeded. The NFL’s tiebreaking rules and standings were referenced and applied.


1. New England Patriots (9-2, .818). AFC East leader. Earn first-round bye, home-field advantage.

2. Denver Broncos (8-3, .727). AFC West leader. Earn first-round bye.

3. Cincinnati Bengals (7-3-1, .682). AFC North leader. Host Chargers in wild-card game.

4. Indianapolis Colts (7-4, .636). AFC South leader. Host Chiefs in wild-card game.

5. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4, .636). Wild card No. 1. Hold No. 5 seed on basis of head-to-head win vs. Chargers (first divisional tiebreaker) and better AFC record than Ravens (5-3 vs. 3-4 — second wild-card tiebreaker).

6. San Diego Chargers (7-4, .636). Wild card No. 2. Hold No. 6 seed on basis of better AFC record than Ravens (5-3 vs. 3-4 — second wild-card tiebreaker).


7. Baltimore Ravens (7-4, .636). AFC North’s second-seeded team because of 2-1 mark in head-to-head games vs. Steelers and Browns (first divisional tiebreaker). This tops the Steelers’ 2-2 mark and the Browns’ 1-2 record.

8. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4, .636). AFC North’s third-seeded team because of superior record in common games to Browns (4-2 vs. 2-3 — third divisional tiebreaker).

9. Cleveland Browns (7-4, .636).

10. Miami Dolphins (6-5, .545). Hold No. 10 seed on basis of superior AFC East record to Bills (2-1 vs. 3-2 — second divisional tiebreaker).

11. Buffalo Bills (6-5, .545).

12. Houston Texans (5-6, .455).

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27 Responses to “AFC playoff picture: Ravens can chart their own path”
  1. RavenzGunnerz says: Nov 25, 2014 2:52 AM

    Ravens are favorite in all the remaining games except maybe the Miami one. That too I should still say they are favorite. That Miami oline will not be able to protect Tannehill.

    But football is football. So, we will see.

  2. fantom21 says: Nov 25, 2014 4:11 AM

    The AFC is so boring. Why don’t we just say Pats vs Broncos and call it a day..

  3. thebirdsareback says: Nov 25, 2014 5:09 AM

    So what you’re saying is there’s a chance? AWESOME!!!

  4. magnumpimustache says: Nov 25, 2014 7:21 AM

    Houston Texans 12th……so you’re saying there is a chance.

  5. belbobelbo says: Nov 25, 2014 8:27 AM

    In addition to the Browns at Ravens to end the regular season, the Bengals play the Steelers twice and Browns once for 3 of their final 5 games, so somebody’s gonna be getting some losses in the AFCN.

  6. thesteelhurtin says: Nov 25, 2014 8:36 AM

    If the Steelers win out they would jump the Ravens due to the Ravens losing twice to the Bengals.

  7. noknoknokpenny says: Nov 25, 2014 8:47 AM

    If San Diego makes it into the playoffs then they will surely have earned it.

    Games left:

    1. Baltimore (currently ranked #10 by computers)
    2. New England (#1)
    3. Denver (#2)
    4. SF (#12)
    5. KC (#3)


  8. tribefever says: Nov 25, 2014 8:55 AM

    The Browns record is 2-2 in the division.

  9. hakunamangata says: Nov 25, 2014 9:14 AM

    Just think, with all these teams alive and playing meaningful games, December is going to be awesome if you’re a football fan!

  10. guitarkevin says: Nov 25, 2014 9:36 AM

    No division (AFC or NFC) in the history of football has had all teams 3 games over .500 until last night when the Ravens beat New Orleans.

    Bungals 7-3-1
    Ravens 7-4
    Steelers 7-4
    Browns 7-4

    AFCN – Best division in football right now.

    Pretty amazing!

  11. sellout1983 says: Nov 25, 2014 9:42 AM

    “Ravens can chart their own path”. Profound, you could literally say the exact same thing for the entire division.

  12. billswillnevermove says: Nov 25, 2014 10:10 AM

    The Bills will walk all over the Browns next week and show them they really are not all that good. Hoyer won’t finish the game, just like last year.

  13. dolphing2 says: Nov 25, 2014 10:47 AM


    The fact that the AFCN plays the NFCS and the AFCS is why all of these teams have great records. Pretty much 7 easy wins with the Colts being the only real challenge. Best divisions are on the West…for both conferences.

  14. jjackwagon says: Nov 25, 2014 10:48 AM

    ^^^^^ Cool it Bills boy, you only beat the Jets. Come back when you have a real win.

  15. rsn279 says: Nov 25, 2014 11:23 AM

    “Bungals 7-3-1
    Ravens 7-4
    Steelers 7-4
    Browns 7-4

    AFCN – Best division in football right now.”

    yet you still sent 1 team to the playoffs last year and according to Florio, would send one again this year if the season ended today.

    AFC West is top notch, 3 playoff teams last year and on pace to do it again, its the cream of the crop in the AFC.

  16. mkmoorebrowns says: Nov 25, 2014 11:41 AM

    billswillnevermove says:
    Nov 25, 2014 10:10 AM
    The Bills will walk all over the Browns next week and show them they really are not all that good. Hoyer won’t finish the game, just like last year.


    This is pretty funny. Please remind me again who walked out a winner of that game last year with Brandon Weeden at qb and the worst running game in the NFL. Oh yea, the Browns did.

    P.S. Is it a good sign to lose to a team who you are giving your first round pick?

  17. knowerofallthings says: Nov 25, 2014 12:09 PM

    Every team in the AFCN has a shot to chart their own course. These games down the stretch should be awesome.

  18. jacktheraven says: Nov 25, 2014 12:28 PM

    There are still losses to be had for the other 3 AFCN teams. They all have 3 games left in the division. Ravens only have 1. Bengals probably have the tougher road.

  19. jacktheraven says: Nov 25, 2014 12:29 PM

    If the Ravens win out, only the bengals or steelers can win out too.

  20. bobarian1 says: Nov 25, 2014 3:22 PM

    When the Chiefs beat Denver this week-end, who holds tie-breaker?

    Chiefs have beat every team that has beat Denver.

  21. steelcurtains says: Nov 26, 2014 12:35 AM

    During the game last night, they kept showing the Steelers in the #5 spot. Why is this list different than what ESPN was showing?

  22. harperdeclan says: Nov 26, 2014 12:05 PM

    What is this nonsense! Steelers should be ranked #5 because of a better division record (2-2) than the Ravens (2-3).

    Then, above the Browns, Chargers, and Chiefs because their conference records (4-4), (5-3), & (5-3) are not as good as the Steelers’ (6-3)!

  23. dumbaseinstien says: Nov 26, 2014 5:08 PM

    The media still trying to bury the Rice thing by talking up the Ravens. Too late buddy…they would be toast right now if not for the consistent help of the refs!

  24. jagsdaddy says: Nov 26, 2014 9:32 PM

    Jags steal a win in crab city on 12/14.

    Don’t call it a trap game.

  25. deathonwings410 says: Nov 27, 2014 10:13 AM


  26. tendigitpoet says: Nov 28, 2014 12:33 PM

    The AFC North has become the SEC of the NFL.

  27. bmoreravenssbound says: Dec 2, 2014 12:58 AM

    Well written article. It truly was mind boggling to see Dumervil line up not once, not twice, but three times or more in the neutral zone. One of which erased a big sack on Rivers and another that would’ve negated an INT if Will Hill caught the ball.

    While I do agree this loss was crushing and a blow to our playoff hopes, I don’t believe it will be the deciding factor. However, next week is a MUST WIN game if we want to make playoffs as the Dolphins only difficult opponent is the Patriots following our game and they too would own tie breaker.

    But there is optimism no one is talking about. Consider this, the Chargers remaining four games are: vs Pats, Vs Broncos, @ 49ers & @ Chiefs. They’d have to play perfect football to finish at best 11-5 or 10-6.

    Then there are the Bills sitting at 7-5 and currently ahead of us at #7 seed. Who also play @ Broncos, Vs Packers, @ Raiders & @ Pats. They’d be a miracle to finish above 8-8 as we’ve seen they are not a very good team & Orton is hit or miss.

    Then we have the Chiefs who are 7-5 following their loss to Broncos. Who have yet to play, @ Cardinals, Vs Raiders, @ Steelers & Vs Chargers. This is a interesting remaining 4 as the Chiefs could actually help us with wins over PIT and SD. Assuming they drop one to most likely ARI.

    Now looking inner-division this is where if the Ravens get disciplined we could actually earn a first round home game. Here’s how: The 8-3-1 Bengals remaining four includes: Vs Steelers, @ Browns, Vs Broncos, & @ Steelers. Because of the way the Steelers have played as of late I’ll be rooting for them to beat the Bengals in one of these games (preferably sooner than later). Realistically the Bengals too are hit or miss as we saw playing down to the Buccaneers. I don’t see them upsetting the Broncos or sweeping Steelers that would put them at 10-5-1 at best. Or if they happen to fall vs CLE they’d be 9-6-1 and possibly ousted from playoffs.

    With the 7-5 Steelers, they clearly are no woeful contender nearly losing to TEN & losing to a miserable Jets team, I see them finishing 9-7 at best. They have yet to play: @ Bengals, @ Falcons (who are clawing for division title & playing well), Vs Chiefs & Vs Bengals. I could see them upset by ATL and or the Chiefs as well as dropping one to the Bengals that’s a 8-8 record. But assuming they are able to beat the Falcons, Chiefs & Bengals they’d be 10-6 at best but we’d still own tie breaker for better overall AFC record.

    Looking at the 7-5 Browns: Vs Colts, Vs Bengals, @ Panthers, & Vs Ravens. I don’t see them getting by Colts or us so they’d finish 9-7 at best and do us a favor by beating the Bengals (assuming we beat them in week 17 that is.)

    Now the real and only viable challenger still in the hunt, the 6-5 Miami Dolphins. Dolphins play @ Jets (Hey who knows PIT lost here) Vs Ravens (MUST WIN FOR US), @ Pats, Vs Vikings (Upset alert), & Vs Jets. I see them easily sweeping the Jets while losing to the Pats and potentially being upset teddy by the Vikings who have been playing well in recent weeks. The reason the Ravens must beat this team Sun is even if the Dolphins do lose to the Pats they’d be 10-6 and own tie breaker over us. Then near miracles would need to occur to allow the Ravens into playoffs such as a collapse by the Bengals dropping all 4 as well as PIT losing 3 of their 4.

    Bottom line is we could win our division by winning out and having the Bengals splitting with the Steelers. Winning out is no easy task considering Jags & Texans both could be let down games if we are too focused on the Browns in Week 17 with a possible win or go home scenario (Again).

    However, although I’m throwing out big ASSUMPTIONS, even with the loss to the Chargers, the Ravens still control their own playoff destiny. Sure they need some help to win the division but I simply don’t see the Bengals, Bills, Steelers, Chiefs, Chargers, or Browns winning out. Mainly because of their brutal schedules and because aside from the Bills, they all play each other.

    In the end we need not to panic just yet, tighten up our secondary (Asa Jackson potentially returning this week), and remain disciplined. And worse case scenario if we are going to drop one of these 4 games it had better be Vs Texans or Jags as at 10-6 with losses to those teams we could still earn #5 or #6 seed. Our fate primarily resides in our hands and secondarily in the hands of the Chargers losing plenty as well as the Chiefs continuing to lose out.

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