The Purple Camo Army can officially remove their fingers from the panic button (at least for now); the Ravens have officially won the bye week. During the all-to-timely bye week, the Ravens should regain some confidence in their playoff chances looking forward. After the dust has settled from a somewhat strange Sunday, Baltimore remains a game back of the 6th seed in the AFC and the second Wild Card spot.
Sitting at 3-4 seems to be an ugly situation for the defending champs, but with a top heavy conference, there is still wiggle room for the Ravens to make a run during the second half of the season. John Harbaugh and company probably paid close attention to the games this weekend, to scout some of their competition, but must have waked up Monday morning with a slight grin.
The only teams that are in the fight for that final playoff spot that had a positive weekend are also those who did not play, such as San Diego (4-3) and Tennessee (3-4). Everyone else struggled to gain any ground in the Wild Card race, with losses by Cleveland (3-5), New York Jets (4-4), Pittsburgh (2-5), Buffalo (3-5) and Miami (3-4). The best situation for the Ravens is for the front-runners in each division (except the Bengals in the AFC North) to keep up their pace.
New England will have more opportunities against their division rivals, and could single-handedly knock out the Bills, Dolphins and Jets from playoff contention. If they were to sweep the AFC East from here on out (which is not impossible, considering some of the players they will regain from the injury list), those teams will be all but finished.
The AFC West sports the best two teams in the league (record-wise at least), with the Broncos and Chiefs only having one loss between the two of them. Kansas City and Denver will both have two cracks at the Chargers the rest of the way; meaning they could hand San Diego at least their seventh loss, by the final week of the season.
Add in the Colts opportunity to face off with Tennessee twice this season and Ravens fans should be rooting for some of their most-hated non-divisional rivals. It’s sad to say that Baltimore’s playoff hopes are contingent on the Broncos, Patriots and Colts all helping them out.
The upcoming schedule for Baltimore looks to be much easier than predicted before the season started. A road trip to Chicago seems to be much more winnable with Jay Cutler’s injury concerns, while matchups with the Browns, Jets, Steelers and Vikings all are expected wins for the Ravens over the next six weeks.
Now Baltimore is not out of the AFC North battle either, sitting two and half games back of the Bengals. They will have their chances to gain ground two Sunday’s from now on the division leader, at the friendly confines of the M&T Bank stadium. With this six week stretch upcoming, the Ravens are set up for a Week 17 battle for the AFC North Crown in Cincinnati.
Cheers going out to the Broncos, Patriots and Colts….ugghhhh.