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An early look at the playoff picture

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Because I'm not tired even though I have to be up for work in 5 hours, I decided to take a little look at the way things are shaping up with regard to the playoff picture. It is a bit early to be looking at this still, but I think that it might prove useful.

 

First the Ravens Schedule, and my feel as to what will happen (T means tossup):

 

@ Cincinnati (W)

vs Washington (W)

vs Pittsburgh (T)

@ Dallas (L)

vs Jacksonville (W)

 

Looking at this, Cincy should be a win, as should Jacksonville, a team which is 4-7 and who we have at home. I also think Washington is a team we have a pretty decent chance of beating, especially since we are at home. I think they aren't quite as good as their record (the Rams beat them, the Seahawks almost did). I think we lose against Dallas, mainly because of our beat up secondary. Pittsburgh is, like always, a toss up, though I think we have a slight advantage in that game. If all this pans out, we'd be at 10-6 or 11-5 (pending Pittsburgh).

 

Here are what I would call the teams which we are in the most direct competition with, along with their schedules and my gut feeling on what happens in these games:

 

Pittsburgh (8-3):

 

@ New England (T)

vs Dallas (T)

@ Baltimore (T)

@ Tennessee (L)

vs Cleveland (W)

 

Indianapolis (7-4):

 

@ Cleveland (W)

vs Cincinnati (W)

vs Detroit (W)

@ Jacksonville (W)

vs Tennessee (T)

 

New England (7-4):

 

vs Pittsburgh (T)

@ Seattle (W)

@ Oakland (W)

vs Arizona (T)

@ Buffalo (W)

 

I think that Indianapolis will get one of the wild card spots, they have a ridiculously easy schedule the rest of the way. Given the fact that they own the tiebreaker over us, New England, and Pittsburgh, I think they are a fairly strong lock for the no. 5 seed, with at least an 11-5 record.

 

That leaves three teams and two spots, the probable 3 seed for the North division winner, and the no 6 seed for the last wild card spot (assuming Tennessee hangs on for the 1, the Jets take the 2, and Denver takes the 4). The Pittsburgh/New England game will really be a win/lose situation for the Ravens:

 

If New England wins:

 

WIN:

- The Steelers lose a game and drop into (most likely) a tie with the Ravens after next week.

 

LOSE:

- The Patriots remain tied with the Ravens in the wild-card

- The Steelers would ensure that, unless they lose to Cleveland, ANY tie in the division would favor them. If the Steelers beat the Ravens and the division ends in a tie, then they have the upper hand based on having beaten us twice. If the Steelers lose to the Ravens, the race ends in a tie, and Pittsburgh beats Cleveland, then both the Ravens and Steelers will have a 5-1 division record. As a result, the tie would be broken by games vs common opponent. The only two uncommon opponents are that the Ravens played the Raiders and Dolphins (against whom we went 2-0) while the Steelers played the Chargers and Patriots (against whom, under this scenario, they'd be 1-1). This means that in the case of a tie, the Steelers would be one game better against common opponents, and would win the division

 

If Pittsburgh wins:

WIN:

- The Patriots drop a game behind the Ravens and two back amongst AFC teams, which would be the tiebreaker.

 

LOSE:

- We remain a game behind the Steelers, who would still likely own the tiebreaker (via conference record) in the event of a tie.

 

If the Patriots win this game, it will be imperative that we beat the Steelers to go to 11-5, and even that may not be enough. If the Patriots end up beating Arizona, then they would most likely be 12-4, and likely out of our reach for the wild card. Since the Steelers own all of the tiebreak scenarios, we would then need to be a game up on them at the end of the year, and since I don't think they'll finish 9-7, we would NEED to be 11-5 and hope the Steelers go 10-6 at best.

 

If the Steelers win, 11-5 is slightly less of an imperative, so long as Arizona can beat New England (or, in a longer shot, Buffalo does). We will likely own the tiebreaker over New England in this case, so long as we don't lose two AFC teams.

 

The upshot of this already extremely too long post is that even if the Ravens go 4-1 the rest of the way to finish 11-5, making the playoffs is still a slightly dicey proposition. I could see a very plausible scenario where an 11-5 team in the AFC misses the playoffs entirely. There is at least a semi-decent chance that all 4 teams mentioned here go 11-5 (Indianapolis loses to Tenn, Pittsburgh loses to Baltimore and Tenn, Baltimore loses to Dallas, and NE loses to Pittsburgh), which would knock NE out at 11-5, or that one team goes 12-4 and the rest go 11-5 (NE wins out, Indy loses to Tenn, Pittsburgh loses to NE and Tenn, Baltimore loses to Pitt) and knocks the 11-5 Ravens out.

 

In sum, the playoffs are still a slightly dicey proposition. Don't start printing tickets quite yet.

 

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I think the playoff situation is incredibly tight. Indianapolis beating San Diego tonight really put a wrench in our chances for a wild card. A loss by them really would've evened things up, considering the schedules.

 

New England still (surprisingly) has division contenders to battle. Buffalo and Miami both have very easy remaining schedules (games against themselves and the Jets are the toughest left).

 

I'm still looking at the division, because it's our safest possibility in my mind, and closest to our control. Steelers have a tough, tough schedule remaining, and it all seems to line up such that our showdown here next month will mean everything.

 

I will feel most comfortable pulling for New England next weekend, and seeing what happens after that. If the Steelers beat Dallas, the Cowboys might not have anything to play for by the time we get them. However, I don't think they're as strong as advertised with Romo back.

 

It's all fun to screw around with in your head, but there's way too many opportunities for way too many teams, yet.

 

Let's beat (that is, not tie) Cincinnati first.

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I think the playoff situation is incredibly tight. Indianapolis beating San Diego tonight really put a wrench in our chances for a wild card. A loss by them really would've evened things up, considering the schedules.

 

Indy has the 5th spot, we have the 6th spot..Everything is fine

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I think the playoff situation is incredibly tight. Indianapolis beating San Diego tonight really put a wrench in our chances for a wild card. A loss by them really would've evened things up, considering the schedules.

 

Indy has the 5th spot, we have the 6th spot..Everything is fine

Today, sure. I'm talking big picture.

 

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