The Baltimore Ravens playoff hopes will be decided over the next four games against quality opponents.
After 12 weeks of the NFL season, the Baltimore Ravens have a slim lead in the AFC North. They share an identical 6-5 record with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and have the lead over arch rival because of their perfect record in the division.
All that could change in the next four weeks as Baltimore will square off against teams with records of .500 or better.
We discussed the Ravens’ losses in the recent episode of our podcast in which the New York Jets is the only bad loss this season. The rest of the teams would all be in the playoffs if the season ended today. Three of the next four opponents would also be in the postseason and the other is just outside.
The win over the Cincinnati Bengals was important because it allowed the Ravens to maintain their lead in the division. It also ended the Bengals run of five consecutive seasons in the playoffs. Now it’s up to the Ravens to not allow their postseason dreams to slip away.
The next two foes come from the AFC East: the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. Miami has won six straight games and are playing with a lot of confidence. The Patriots will always be a threat with Tom Brady under center. It’s tough to imagine the Ravens going into Foxborough and getting a W, so it’s important that they take care of business against the Phins this weekend.
The Week 15 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles might be the most difficult to gauge. Philadelphia could have the same record as Baltimore after tonight, but would still find themselves in last place in the surprisingly tough NFC East. Carson Wentz and the Eagles could still be fighting for a wild card berth and will present the Ravens with challenges on both sides of the ball.
But when it all comes down to it, the Christmas Day game against Pittsburgh will likely determine it all. The Ravens manhandled the Steelers in their first meeting, but Ben Roethlisberger was just coming back from injury and the defense played a near perfect game. Pittsburgh also has a much easier schedule down the stretch so it is imperative that Joe Flacco and company give Charm City something to celebrate on Christmas.
The season concludes with another matchup in Cincy, but the hope is that game has little impact on the Ravens playoff chances. Should the Ravens defeat the Steelers once again, they will have a 5-0 record in the division.
The saying is “control your own destiny” and the Baltimore Ravens can do just that over the next four weeks. They must win at least two of these four games or we could be looking at a ton of changes this offseason.