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Ravens 2014 opponents finalized

Posted on 29 December 2013 by WNST Staff

With the end of the NFL regular season Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens’ list of 2013 opponents was finalized. The Ravens were already slated to play both the AFC South and NFC South as well as their regular AFC North schedule. Additionally they will face the two other third place teams in the AFC after finishing third in their division.

HOME OPPONENTS: Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, San Diego Chargers, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers.

AWAY OPPONENTS: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers.

Dates and times will be announced when the full NFL schedule is released in the spring.

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Ravens lose control of playoff path entering Week 17

Posted on 23 December 2013 by Luke Jones

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.

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Bovada improves Ravens’ Super Bowl odds to 33/1

Posted on 19 December 2013 by WNST Staff

Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV).

 

Odds to win the 2014 Super Bowl XLVIII (Teams in red have longer odds from last week, teams in blue have shorter odds, and teams in black stayed the same)

                                                Week 15           Current 

Seattle Seahawks                      11/4                  9/4

Denver Broncos                        11/4                  13/4

San Francisco 49ers                  8/1                    15/2

Carolina Panthers                      18/1                  14/1

Kansas City Chiefs                    25/1                  14/1

New England Patriots                10/1                  14/1

New Orleans Saints                   8/1                    14/1

Cincinnati Bengals                     16/1                  20/1

Green Bay Packers                    50/1                  25/1

Baltimore Ravens                      50/1                  33/1

Indianapolis Colts                      33/1                  33/1

Philadelphia Eagles                   28/1                  33/1

Chicago Bears                          50/1                  40/1

Dallas Cowboys                        50/1                  66/1

Detroit Lions                             40/1                  66/1

Miami Dolphins                         66/1                  66/1

Arizona Cardinals                      100/1                75/1

San Diego Chargers                  75/1                  75/1

Pittsburgh Steelers                    300/1                300/1

Atlanta Falcons                         Off the Board    Off the Board

Buffalo Bills                              Off the Board    Off the Board

Cleveland Browns                      Off the Board   Off the Board

Houston Texans                        Off the Board    Off the Board

Jacksonville Jaguars                 Off the Board    Off the Board

Minnesota Vikings                     Off the Board    Off the Board

New York Giants                       Off the Board    Off the Board

New York Jets                           300/1                Off the Board

Oakland Raiders                        Off the Board    Off the Board

St. Louis Rams                         Off the Board    Off the Board

Tampa Bay Buccaneers             Off the Board    Off the Board

Tennessee Titans                       Off the Board    Off the Board

Washington Redskins                Off the Board   Off the Board

 

SUPER BOWL XLVIII – Early Line        

AFC                  +2½

NFC                  -2½

 

Odds to win the 2014 AFC Conference 

Denver Broncos                        5/6

New England Patriots                9/2

Kansas City Chiefs                    13/2

Cincinnati Bengals                     8/1

Indianapolis Colts                      14/1

Baltimore Ravens                      16/1

Miami Dolphins                         28/1

San Diego Chargers                  40/1

Pittsburgh Steelers                    125/1

 

Odds to win the 2014 NFC Conference 

Seattle Seahawks                      10/11

San Francisco 49ers                  9/2

Carolina Panthers                      15/2

New Orleans Saints                   15/2

Green Bay Packers                    14/1

Philadelphia Eagles                   18/1

Chicago Bears                          25/1

Dallas Cowboys                        33/1

Detroit Lions                             33/1

Arizona Cardinals                      40/1

 

Division Odds

Odds to win the 2014 AFC East Division          

New England Patriots                1/16

Miami Dolphins                         8/1

 

Odds to win the 2014 AFC North Division        

Cincinnati Bengals                     1/4

Baltimore Ravens                      5/2

 

Odds to win the 2014 AFC West Division         

Denver Broncos                        1/8

Kansas City Chiefs                    5/1

 

Odds to win the 2014 NFC East Division

Philadelphia Eagles                   1/2

Dallas Cowboys                        3/2

 

Odds to win the 2014 NFC North Division        

Chicago Bears                          11/10

Green Bay Packers                    8/5

Detroit Lions                             11/4

 

Odds to win the 2014 NFC South Division       

Carolina Panthers                      5/7

New Orleans Saints                   1/1

 

Player/Coach Props

NFL Special – Will Jim Schwartz be the head Coach for the Detroit Lions for game 1 of the 2014 Season?      

Yes                  +200     (2/1)

No                    -300     (1/3)

 

NFL Special – Will Dennis Allen be the head Coach for the Oakland Raiders for game 1 of the 2014 Season?  

Yes                  +150     (3/2)

No                    -200     (1/2)

 

NFL Special – Will Jason Garrett be the head Coach for the Dallas Cowboys for game 1 of the 2014 Season? 

Yes                  EVEN   (1/1)

No                    -140      (5/7)

 

NFL WEEK 16 SPECIALS – Will Mike Shanahan be the coach of the Redskins for Game 1 of the 2014 Regular Season and his son (Kyle) not be on the coaching staff?        

Yes                  -140      (5/7)

No                    EVEN   (1/1)

 

NFL WEEK 16 SPECIALS – Will the Redskins trade Kirk Cousins before the 2014 NFL Draft is over?   

Yes                  -140      (5/7)

No                    EVEN   (1/1)

 

NFL WEEK 16 SPECIALS – If the Redskins trade Kirk Cousins before the 2014 NFL Draft is over will they get a 1st round pick for him?    

Yes                  +200     (2/1)

No                    -300     (1/3)

 

Odds to Win 2013 NFL MVP    

Peyton Manning (DEN) QB                    -1500   (1/55)

Any other player                                    +700     (7/1)

 

Odds to Win 2013 NFL Defensive MVP

Luke Kuechly                2/1

Robert Mathis               11/4

Robert Quinn                 3/1

Richard Sherman           7/1

Earl Thomas                  10/1

Lavonte David               12/1

Vontaze Burfict             14/1

J.J. Watt                       15/1

Deandre Levy                25/1

 

NFL WEEK 16 SPECIALS – Eli Manning – Total Interceptions thrown in the Regular Season? (Note: He has currently thrown 25)

Over/Under                   28

 

NFL WEEK 16 SPECIALS – Will Matt Cassel start game 1 of the 2014 Regular Season for the Vikings?

Yes                  +110     (11/10)

No                    -150     (2/3)

 

Team Props

NFL WEEK 16 SPECIALS – Total Points scored by all teams Week 16  (Note: Last Sunday was the highest scoring week in NFL History with a total of 763)

Over/Under                   725½

 

NFL WEEK 16 SPECIALS – Will a team score 50 or more points Week 16        

Yes                  +400     (4/1)

No                    -700     (1/7)

 

NFL WEEK 16 SPECIALS – How many teams will score 40 or more points Week 16?  

Over/Under                   1½

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Tucker named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week

Posted on 18 December 2013 by WNST Staff

CHIEFS RB JAMAAL CHARLES, DOLPHINS S MICHAEL THOMAS & RAVENS K JUSTIN TUCKER NAMED AFC PLAYERS OF WEEK 15

Running back JAMAAL CHARLES of the Kansas City Chiefs, safety MICHAEL THOMAS of the Miami Dolphins and
kicker JUSTIN TUCKER of the Baltimore Ravens are the AFC Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams Players of the
Week for games played the 15th week of the 2013 season (December 12, 15-16), the NFL announced today.

SPECIAL TEAMS: K JUSTIN TUCKER, BALTIMORE RAVENS
 Tucker converted all six field-goals, including a game-winning 61-yarder in the Ravens’ 18-16 win at Detroit on
Monday Night Football.
 Tucker’s 61-yard field goal marked the third-longest come-from-behind game-winning field goal in the final minute
of the fourth quarter in NFL history.
 His six field goals of 29, 24, 32, 49, 53 and 61 were the most in the NFL in Week 15.
 He scored all 18 of the Ravens’ points in the game.
 Tucker has made 33 consecutive field goals, the longest active streak in the NFL.
 Through Week 15, Tucker has converted an NFL-best 35 field goals.
 In his second season from Texas, this is Tucker’s third career Special Teams Player of the Week Award (all in
2013). He previously won the award in Week 12 and Week 10.

 

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Ravens’ playoff scenarios come into focus following Monday night win

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Ravens’ playoff scenarios come into focus following Monday night win

Posted on 17 December 2013 by Luke Jones

Following their biggest win of the season against the Detroit Lions on Monday night, the Ravens now see their playoff possibilities coming into sharp focus with two weeks remaining in the regular season.

Paths to a division title or the second wild-card spot in the AFC remain very reasonable with the Ravens having complete control over both of those outcomes, but Baltimore still has a chance — unlikely as it might be — to earn the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye after the top three teams in the conference all lost in Week 15.

While there are clearly no scenarios in which the Ravens could clinch the division or the No. 2 seed in Week 16, they could punch their ticket to the postseason if they continue their current winning streak and receive help from other teams on Sunday.

Here are the Ravens’ current playoff scenarios entering Week 16:

The Ravens will clinch a playoff spot on Sunday with:

A win over New England AND a Miami loss at Buffalo AND a San Diego loss or tie against Oakland

Skinny: Some have erroneously said the Ravens would clinch the No. 6 seed with a win over the Patriots and a Dolphins loss, but the Chargers remain in the hunt with a 7-7 record, leaving open the possibility of a three-way tie for the No. 6 seed at the end of Week 17. Though the Ravens would win individual tiebreakers against Miami (their Week 5 win) or San Diego (superior conference record), the Dolphins would win the three-way tiebreaker with the best conference record should all three teams finish 9-7 or 8-8.

The Ravens can win the AFC North with:

Two wins OR two Cincinnati losses (home games against Minnesota and Baltimore)

Skinny: The Bengals would clinch the division with a win or a tie against the Vikings and a Baltimore loss against New England in Week 16, but a Ravens win over the Patriots or a Bengals loss to Minnesota would guarantee an AFC North championship game in Week 17. Baltimore would own the head-to-head tiebreaker with a win over the Bengals after defeating them once earlier in the season.

The Ravens would clinch the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye with:

Two wins AND two New England losses (at Baltimore and home against Buffalo) AND one Indianapolis loss (at Kansas City or home against Jacksonville) AND one Miami loss (at Buffalo or home against the New York Jets)

OR

Two wins AND two New England losses AND two Indianapolis losses

Skinny: Under the first scenario presented, the Ravens would finish with a better conference record than New England and a better record against common opponents than Indianapolis. However, if the Patriots would lose out and the Dolphins would win out, Miami would win the AFC East and the door would remain open for a three-way tie among Baltimore, Indianapolis, and Miami that would give the Dolphins the No. 2 seed by way of the best conference record. This possibility would be eliminated if the Colts were to lose two games as the Ravens would still own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Dolphins, meaning a Miami loss wouldn’t be needed.

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Playoffs?!?!?!?!?

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Playoffs?!?!?!?!?

Posted on 11 December 2013 by Thyrl Nelson

There are 3 weeks remaining in the season for the Ravens, and all other teams for that matter. The good news is that the Ravens are very much in control of their own playoff destiny; if they win their remaining 3 games nothing can keep them from the playoffs. There is however, still little reason to believe that the Ravens will win all 3 games. The other good news is that they probably won’t have to. The bad news then, is that there are a myriad of possibilities on how the season plays out and what it might mean from a Ravens perspective.

 

Here is a comprehensive breakdown of all scenarios and possible tie-break situations the Ravens might face as the season winds down:

 

Ravens

Record 7-6     Conference Record 6-4     Division Record 3-2

Remaining Games: @DET, vs NE, @CIN

 

Bengals

Record 9-4     Conference Record 7-3     Division Record 2-2

Remaining Games: @PIT, vs MIN, vs BAL

This one is pretty straightforward, if the Ravens are going to catch the Bengals they have to beat the Bengals…they’ll also need Cincinnati to lose at least one other game. Any tie between the Ravens and Bengals would go to the Ravens because it will require the Ravens to beat the Bengals for the second time this season, thereby giving Baltimore the head-to-head tiebreaker.

 

Steelers

Record 5-8     Conference Record 4-6     Division Record 2-2

Remaining Games: vs. CIN, @GB, vs CLE

At 8-8 Ravens would lose the tiebreaker, either by division record if they failed to beat CIN (they’d be 3-3 to PIT’s 4-2) or by common opponents The Ravens beat HOU lost to DEN, the Steelers lost to OAK & TEN, meaning the Ravens would be 7-7 vs common opponents and the Steelers would be 8-6.

At 7-9 the Ravens would win the tiebreaker if they beat the Bengals and the Steelers lost to either the Bengals or Browns with a 4-2 division record to Pittsburgh’s 3-3. The Steelers would win the tie breaker by common opponents if the teams wound up with the same divisional record.

 

Dolphins

Record 7-6     Conference Record 6-3

Remaining Games: vs NE, @BUF, vs NYJ

The Ravens have the tiebreaker vs the Dolphins by virtue of their head-to-head victory over Miami. That could change though if the tie is between more than just 2 teams.

 

Jets

Record 6-7     Conference Record 3-7

Remaining Games: @CAR, vs CLE, @MIA

The Ravens have the tiebreaker vs the Jets by virtue of their head-to-head victory over New York. That could change though if the tie is between more than just 2 teams.

 

Titans

Record 5-8     Conference Record 4-6

Remaining Games: vs AZ, @JAX, vs HOU

At 8-8 Ravens would win tie-breaker by conference record if they win 1 more AFC game. If Ravens lose to CIN & NE but beat DET the tie-breaker becomes strength of victory (common opponents are PIT, HOU, NYJ & DEN both teams would be 3-2).

Right now the Titans 5 victories are over teams with 26 combined wins and they’d have to win their final 3 games accounting for 14 more wins so far for a total of 40 opponents’ wins. The teams that the Titans have beaten and would have to beat have 21 combined games remaining.

The Ravens 7 wins are over teams with a combined 36 wins and 1 tie and would have to win one of their last 3 games over a team with 7, 9 or 10 wins. That plus the 26 games that those opponents have remaining would seem to position the Ravens in control of the tiebreaker over Tennessee at 8-8.

At 7-9 the Ravens would win the tiebreaker by conference record with a Titans loss to Jacksonville or by common opponents with a loss to Houston. If the Titans lost to Arizona instead the tiebreaker would instead go to strength of victory where the Ravens wield a heavy advantage.

*At 7-9 there would also seem to be a likelihood that more than 2 teams would be vying for the spot.

 

Chargers

Record 6-7     Conference Record 3-6

Remaining Games: @DEN, vs OAK, vs KC

At 9-7 the Ravens would win the tiebreaker over San Diego by conference record 7-5 or 8-4 to the Chargers 6-6.

At 8-8 the Ravens would win the tiebreaker over San Diego by conference record 7-5 or 6-6 to the Chargers 5-7.

At 7-9 The Ravens win the tiebreaker over San Diego 6-6 to the Chargers 4-8.

 

3-Way Ties

*Multi-team ties require divisional ties to be broken first. Refer to above for Ravens Steelers tie break scenarios.

 

Ravens, Dolphins & Titans

At 8-8 if Ravens beat DET, lose to CIN & NE tiebreaker goes to MIA by conference record.

If Ravens lose to Detroit beat CIN or NE, TEN eliminated by conference record, then Ravens win head-to-head vs Dolphins.

At 7-9 Tennessee is eliminated on conference record unless their loss is to AZ. If TEN loses to AZ and all teams are 7-9 with 6-6 conference records and strength of victory would decide the tie. Here’s a strength of victory refresher:

-The Titans 5 victories are over teams with 26 combined wins. They’d have to beat Jacksonville and Houston with a combined 6 wins so far.

-The Ravens 7 wins are over teams with a combined 36 wins and 1 tie.

-The Dolphins 7 wins are over opponents with 41 wins so far.

The 3 weeks remaining in the season and the successes and failures of the teams beaten by the Ravens, Dolphins & Titans in those 3 weeks could change a lot, but for now advantage Dolphins.

 

Ravens, Dolphins & Chargers

Chargers eliminated by conference record. If Ravens and Dolphins are tied in conference records then Ravens win head-to-head vs Dolphins, if conference records are not equal winner is determined by conference record.

Ravens, Titans & Chargers

Chargers eliminated by conference record, revert to Ravens Titans tiebreakers above.

Ravens, Jets & Titans

Jets eliminated by conference record, revert to Ravens & Titans tiebreakers above.

Ravens, Jets & Chargers

Ravens win by virtue of conference record.

4-Way Ties

Ravens, Jets, Titans & Chargers

Jets and Chargers eliminated on conference record. Refer to Ravens & Titans tiebreakers for the rest.

Ravens, Dolphins, Titans & Chargers

Chargers eliminated by conference record. Refer to Ravens, Titans & Dolphins 3-way tiebreaker for the rest.

 

 

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Steelers Poised to Take Advantage if the Ravens Trip Up

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Steelers Poised to Take Advantage if the Ravens Trip Up

Posted on 04 December 2013 by Thyrl Nelson

 

Throughout the disappointing parts (which have constituted most) of the Ravens season, there has been one consistent reason to remain hopeful. That reason has virtually nothing to do with the Ravens themselves, or anything that they’ve shown us on the field so far; the best reason for Ravens fans to have remained hopeful throughout an otherwise trying season has been the mediocrity of their competition. Actually, calling the “competition” for the 6th and final playoff spot in the AFC mediocre might be giving the field too much credit; the longer the competition wears on, the more evident it becomes that no one seems capable of simply stepping up to claim the post-season berth.

While the Ravens have played better of late, they haven’t exactly played well. Nine field goals and two touchdowns in their two most recent wins has been enough to get the job done, but still far from confidence inspiring. And while the “must win” scenarios that the Ravens have faced and succeeded against, is mildly encouraging, those scenarios, fortunately for the team, have occurred during the “lay-up” portion of the schedule.

Sunday against the Vikings isn’t so much a “must win” as it is a “better win”. The Ravens could probably survive a loss to the Vikings from a mathematical standpoint, but let’s face it…if the Ravens can’t muster a win this week, at home, against a bad team, with their backs all but against the wall, there’d be little reason to believe that they could rise to the challenge that is the 3-game gauntlet of @DET, vs. NE & @CIN to finish out the season.

Moreover, the Vikings should present the Ravens with not only a chance to continue winning, but also with a chance to get their offensive act together, as the Minnesota defense has been one of the league’s worst against both the pass and the run.

Every year, football tends to change with the onset of cold weather, which usually benefits the Ravens and teams like them (i.e. the rest of the AFC North). This year the Ravens haven’t played a brand of ball that’s likely to get better with the dropping temperatures. Unless the Ravens find ways to run the ball effectively, and even more importantly to perform well on the road, the 3-game home stand they’re set to finish on Sunday will have been little more than a late season tease, a hook to keep us interested and hopeful before the Ravens shortcomings ultimately catch up to them.

The Ravens may not have to win out, and if we’re being honest about what we’ve seen so far, they probably won’t (or can’t). Still, the Dolphins resurgence has been improbable at best and nothing about the Titans, Chargers or Jets looks scary at all. That would leave the Steelers.

We wrote them off for dead after an 0-4 start, but the Steelers are still very much alive for the 6th seed, and maybe in better shape than even the Ravens right now. Pittsburgh has home games against Miami, Cincinnati and Cleveland remaining, along with a week 16 trip to Green Bay. They’re only ½ game down to the Ravens in division record (2-2 to the Ravens 3-2), which would be the first tiebreaker in any scenario involving both teams. The worse the record needed to claim that AFC 6th seed winds up being, the greater the chances that a tie would have to be broken. Divisional ties (like one between the Ravens and Steelers) have to be settled before the winners would be compared to teams from other divisions. And if Baltimore and Pittsburgh wind up with equal records both overall and in the division, the Steelers would win the tiebreaker by virtue of common opponents.

*Despite the Ravens superior record in conference, divisional ties go from head-to head match-ups (1-1) to divisional records and then to record vs. common opponents. The Ravens and Steelers each have 2 uncommon opponents; the Ravens lost to Denver and beat Houston, the Steelers lost to Oakland and Tennessee. That’d give the Steelers a better record vs. the 10 common opponents each has faced in the 12 other games.

There’s still hope, I suppose that a “Trip-gate” suspension could await Mike Tomlin, which could have a real impact on the race between the two. More likely though, barring the Ravens simply winning out, it’ll remain a battle between the NFL’s most bitter rivals until the end of the season for the playoff spot that no one seemingly wants to claim.

The Ravens’ work is far from done, and unfortunately the Steelers are far from done too.

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Contender or pretender: Sizing up the AFC wild-card race

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Contender or pretender: Sizing up the AFC wild-card race

Posted on 03 December 2013 by Luke Jones

For the Ravens and a number of other AFC teams who’ve plodded along with a .500 record or slightly worse through the first three quarters of the 2013 season, the final sprint is here in determining who will grab the coveted second wild-card spot as Kansas City is all but guaranteed the No. 5 seed.

Of course, coach John Harbaugh and his team still hold hope that their Week 17 meeting with the Cincinnati Bengals will provide an opportunity to play for the AFC North title, but the Ravens will need their division counterpart to slip up to reduce the deficit to just one game entering that final contest at Paul Brown Stadium on Dec. 29. In the meantime, the Ravens simply must focus on winning games and securing their current grip on the No. 6 seed in the AFC as their 6-6 record equals the Dolphins — and an Oct. 6 victory over Miami gives them the tie-breaking nod.

Following this Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings that concludes the current three-game homestand, the Ravens have the most difficult path of any of the wild-card contenders over the final three weeks in playing three teams projected to land in the postseason. Baltimore figures to need to win three of its final four games in the final month for a good chance to maintain its grip on the No. 6 seed, meaning the Ravens will likely need to win two of three against Detroit, New England, and Cincinnati and only the Patriots game will be played at M&T Bank Stadium in Week 16.

The Ravens’ 6-4 conference record stacks up well with the rest of the field, but the outcome of their two remaining AFC games will loom large should they find themselves in a number of tie-breaking situations.

Here’s a look at the rest of the field as I determine who the contenders and the pretenders are:

MIAMI (6-6) – CONTENDER
Conference record: 5-3
Remaining schedule: at Pittsburgh, New England, at Buffalo, New York Jets
Skinny: It would have been unsurprising to see the Dolphins fold in November with the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin situation hanging over their heads, but Miami has rebounded from an embarrassing loss to Tampa Bay to win two of its last three. The Dolphins are in the best position to challenge the Ravens mathematically, but their next two games will make or break them as they go to Heinz Field before playing the Patriots at home. Just one win over the Steelers or New England would put incredible heat on the Ravens over the final two weeks against difficult opponents. Of course, the Dolphins’ Week 5 loss to Baltimore continues to doom them if those two teams finish tied for the No. 6 spot with no one else in the mix.

TENNESSEE (5-7) – PRETENDER
Conference record: 4-5
Remaining schedule: at Denver, Arizona, at Jacksonville, Houston
Skinny: Their current record and remaining schedule still suggest the Titans have a slim chance, but the season-ending injury to quarterback Jake Locker last month and two losses to a vulnerable Indianapolis team in their last three games have all but sealed their fate. Backup Ryan Fitzpatrick had been playing well before an awful performance this past Sunday, but the next two games figure to be the final nails in the coffin to the Titans’ playoff hopes. Tennessee started fast this season, but only two wins since the start of October clearly scream pretender in an already-mediocre field.

PITTSBURGH (5-7) – CONTENDER
Conference record: 4-5
Remaining schedule: Miami, Cincinnati, at Green Bay, Cleveland
Skinny: Many eulogized the Steelers’ season following the Thanksgiving night result, but Pittsburgh could still be the biggest threat in the wild-card race with three remaining home games. A normally-intimidating trip to Lambeau Field in Week 16 to take on the Packers could also be easier should Aaron Rodgers be shut down for the rest of the season as some are speculating. A Steelers win over the Bengals in Week 15 would help the Ravens in their quest for the division title, but Baltimore’s season split with Pittsburgh creates a more complicated tiebreaker that could come down to division record or even record in common games. Perhaps more than anything else, Ravens fans begrudgingly know it’s never a good idea to count out Ben Roethlisberger, meaning the Steelers still have a shot.

SAN DIEGO (5-7) – PRETENDER
Conference record: 3-6
Remaining schedule: New York Giants, at Denver, Oakland, Kansas City
Skinny: The Chargers’ home loss to Cincinnati on Sunday not only failed to do the Ravens any favors in the AFC North race but landed Mike McCoy’s team in the pretender category. San Diego has arguably looked better than any of the other wild-card contenders — the Ravens included — when playing at its best, but inconsistency has once again plagued the Chargers as it seems to annually. They have three remaining home games, but the Chargers have already lost three games at Qualcomm Stadium and are just as likely to lay an egg against the Giants or the Raiders than to pull off an upset over the Broncos or the Chiefs. Their abysmal conference record won’t do them any favors in a tie-breaking scenario, so San Diego’s only real hope is to run the table.

NEW YORK (5-7) – PRETENDER
Conference record: 2-7
Remaining schedule: Oakland, at Carolina, Cleveland, at Miami
Skinny: Only two weeks ago we were talking about the Jets holding the No. 6 spot in the conference, but they’ve crashed and burned since then with a road loss to the Ravens and an embarrassing home defeat to Miami by 20 points this past Sunday. Their quarterback situation is the worst of any of the teams still vying for a wild-card spot as Geno Smith hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since before Halloween. The Jets’ remaining schedule isn’t awful, but they appear far more likely to lose their four remaining games than to go on a run necessary to land the No. 6 seed. New York was still better than many expected this year, but a dysfunctional offense has finally sunk the Jets after some impressive wins earlier in the season.

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Despite crowded wild-card picture, Ravens’ task clear over final month

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Despite crowded wild-card picture, Ravens’ task clear over final month

Posted on 02 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens entered the weekend with the rare chance to not only rest but take a long look at the rest of a crowded AFC playoff picture.

Moving into the No. 6 spot in the conference by way of their 22-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last Thursday night, the Ravens could give thanks at the end of the holiday weekend for still holding the final wild-card position due to their tie-breaking win over the 6-6 Miami Dolphins earlier in the season. But four teams linger with 5-7 records, and different factors are working for and against them in the chase to play football in January.

There’s plenty of watching and wondering what will happen over the season’s final four weeks.

“Everybody is playing everybody right now,” coach John Harbaugh said. “With so many teams involved, it’s going to be the way it’s going to be. One team wins, another teams loses. A lot of times, it helps us either way, and it hurts us both ways — it doesn’t really matter.”

The Dolphins have only one game remaining against teams that are .500 or better (New England).

Pittsburgh plays three of its final four games at Heinz Field and only one of those four contests comes against an opponent with a winning record (Cincinnati).

Despite a crippling quarterback situation, the New York Jets play only one team with a winning record and it’s an NFC opponent (Carolina).

After a disappointing home loss to the Bengals that did no favors to the Ravens’ AFC North title hopes, the Chargers still play three of the final four games at home.

And even 5-7 Tennessee has games remaining against Jacksonville and Houston, two of the worst teams in the NFL.

It’s a lot to process as we start tracking conference marks, records against common opponents, and strength of victory, but Harbaugh and the Ravens choose to focus only on what they can control with so many scenarios still alive with four games to go. The hope of a division title will depend on the Bengals slipping at least once or twice leading into the Week 17 meeting between the teams in Cincinnati, but advancing to the postseason for a sixth consecutive season is a clear path if the Ravens can avoid treacherous detours along the way.

“What matters is us; we just have to win,” Harbaugh said. “If we win games, things are going to work out for us. If we don’t, things are going to be tough. That’s what we have to take care of; we have to take care of ourselves.”

Though facing the best running back on the planet in Adrian Peterson doesn’t sound like a layup, the Ravens will face their last opponent with a record below .500 Sunday when the Minnesota Vikings come to town to conclude a three-game homestand. After that, the road becomes bumpier than at any other point this season with a Monday night road game at NFC North-leading Detroit, a Sunday night home finale against AFC East-leading New England, and a regular-season finale in Cincinnati.

The Ravens hold the one-game edge over all No. 6 seed contenders after Miami, but they’ll still need to win three of their final four to get to the 9-7 mark, a standard that would very likely put them in the postseason. An 8-8 record could still conceivably land the No. 6 seed in the AFC, but such a path will depend on tie-breakers and considerable help from other results.

The good news is Baltimore appears to be getting hot at the right time. After winning two straight for only the second time all season, the Ravens are back at .500 and are on the verge of getting tight end Dennis Pitta back to provide a boost to a below-average offense. Experience is certainly on their side as they can simply point to last year to remember it’s all about clicking when the stakes are at their highest.

However, these Ravens are also 1-5 on the road and figure to need to win at least one of their final two road games. Only one of Baltimore’s six wins — their Nov. 10 home win over the Bengals — has come against teams currently holding a winning record and only one other victory — an Oct. 6 win at Miami — came against a team at the .500 mark.

The Ravens believe they’re getting better and are peaking at the right time. They’ll have every opportunity to show that in the month of December.

Their playoff lives will depend on it.

“We are in position to control our own destiny,” Harbaugh said. “That is what you try to accomplish going into December, so we’ve accomplished that. Now it’s up to us to make the most of it and to go ahead and control our destiny, win the games we have to win, starting with this one – and this is the only one that matters right now – and take it from there.”

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Ravens emerge from Week 13 action holding No. 6 seed in AFC

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Ravens emerge from Week 13 action holding No. 6 seed in AFC

Posted on 01 December 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

Armed with the luxury of sitting back and watching the rest of the NFL’s Week 13 action play out Sunday after a 22-20 win over Pittsburgh on Thursday night, the Ravens maintained control of the No. 6 seed in the AFC.

Miami was the only other of the six 5-6 teams entering Week 13 to emerge with a victory to improve to 6-6, but the Ravens hold the tiebreaker due to their Week 5 win over the Dolphins in early October.

The bad news on Sunday came in the form of the Cincinnati Bengals’ 17-10 win over San Diego that allowed them to keep a two-game lead over the Ravens with an 8-4 record in the AFC North. However, a Bengals loss to the Chargers would have forced a three-way tie for the sixth spot in the AFC, a scenario that would have resulted in Miami winning the current tiebreaker due to a superior conference record over the Ravens and San Diego.

The Ravens will welcome the Minnesota Vikings to town next Sunday while Miami travels to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh to take on the 5-7 Steelers.

Of course, the road to the playoffs will grow much more difficult for the Ravens after that as they play three projected playoff teams to conclude the regular season — two of them coming on the road.

Here are the Week 14 games impacting the AFC playoff picture next weekend:

Minnesota (3-8-1) at Baltimore (6-6)

Indianapolis (8-4) at Cincinnati (8-4)

Oakland (4-8) at New York Jets (5-7)

Miami (6-6) at Pittsburgh (5-7)

Tennessee (5-7) at Denver (10-2)

New York Giants (4-7) at San Diego (5-7)

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