As a result of their lopsided 41-7 defeat to the New England Patriots on Sunday, the Ravens enter Week 17 no longer in control of their path to a playoff spot.
A win over Minnesota on Sunday gave the Bengals the AFC North championship, ending Baltimore’s two-year reign at the top of the division and leaving the final wild-card berth as the only possibility for the Ravens going into the final week of the regular season. Cincinnati is unlikely to rest its starters in Week 17 as Marvin Lewis’ team still eyes the possibility of the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye with a win and a New England loss to Buffalo.
Here are the ways the Ravens can clinch the No. 6 seed:
A win over Cincinnati AND a loss by Miami or San Diego
Skinny: The Ravens own individual tiebreakers against both the Dolphins (head-to-head win) and the Chargers (conference record), but Miami would win the tiebreaker if all three teams were to finish 9-7 due to a superior conference record. The Dolphins host the New York Jets while the Chargers play Kansas City in San Diego next Sunday.
Losses by Miami, San Diego, and Pittsburgh
Skinny: Baltimore can lose Sunday and still back into the postseason if the Dolphins, Chargers, and Steelers all lose. Under that scenario, there would be a four-way tie that included the Jets, who would eliminate Miami because of a better division record and allow the Ravens to win a three-way tiebreaker with a better conference record than both New York and San Diego. If Baltimore, Miami, and San Diego were all to lose and Pittsburgh would defeat Cleveland, the Steelers would steal the No. 6 wild-card spot after eliminating the Ravens because of a superior division record.