On to Pittsburgh!! A breakdown of tie-breaker scenarios

December 20, 2009 | Rick Moore

The Ravens beat up a Bears team that is not exactly lighting the world on fire. Joe Flacco looked sharp, spread the ball around, no turnovers, and was in charge. Ray Rice continues to build a case as one of the best 3 or 4 all around running backs in the game. The defense totally dominated when it counted, even though they gave up yards between the 20s.

Despite the mid-season funk the Ravens went through, the team is now hitting its stride and is in complete control of its playoff destiny. Win 2 more and the Ravens would be the 5 seed. That’s the simple scenario. But what if they hit a snag at the Ketchup Bowl next week? What ways if any could they still get in if they finished 9-7, rather than 10-6?

I have worked through the tie-breakers, which closely resembles the tax code, and here it what I see if the Ravens finish 9-7:

If Baltimore and Jacksonville (now 7-7) both finish 9-7, Jacksonville wins out because of better conference record. We would finish 7-5, Jacksonville would be 8-4.

Ravens beat Titans (now 7-7) because of AFC record of 7-5 versus 5-7 for Tennessee.  

If Baltimore and Pittsburgh (now 7-7) both finish 9-7, we win out because Ravens would have better record in division – we would be 3-3, Steelers would be 2-4.

If Ravens and Denver finish with same record , we win out because Ravens beat Denver head-to-head.

The scenario with the Dolphins is more complex, because at 9-7, both would have same AFC record, and same win pct. against common opponents, so then the rules say to apply “strength of victory” analysis.  I’m not sure what that is at this point. Check back later.

Basically, if Ravens lose one of next 2 games, and Jaguars win both (a tall order since they still have to face New England), Jacksonville gets in instead of Ravens, unless Denver loses one of two also, in which case, Ravens still get in. Broncos will have to face the Eagles, who have won 5 straight and are peaking at the right time. But how much sweeter would our path to the playoffs be if we did it by whooping Big Ben TWICE this year, after he beat us three times last year?!

A big concern is the extent of Lardarius Webb’s injury. If he is a no-go next week, which right now seems likely, that will put even more pressure on a Ravens secondary against a talented Steelers receiving corps.