In a matter of two weeks, the Ravens have gone from looking up at a glut of teams that could keep them out of the playoffs to being in full control of whether they make the postseason.
All Baltimore needed to do was win, and that’s exactly what the team has done, taking two in a row and three of four to improve to 6-6.
Yeah, the record isn’t impressive, but the Ravens are now the frontrunners for the AFC’s second wild card with four weeks to go in the regular season.
Thanks to this weekend’s results, Baltimore actually has some padding in the race for the conference’s sixth playoff spot. One week after six teams were tied at 5-6, only the Ravens and Dolphins won to improve to 6-6, and the Ravens beat the Dolphins to hold the first tiebreaker. So even though the teams are tied, Baltimore is in essence a game ahead.
The Ravens are also at least a game ahead of the Titans, Steelers, Chargers and Jets, who all slipped to 5-7. Because the Jets lost to the Ravens, they’re essentially two games out of the wild card right now.
The Raiders, Browns and Bills are all two games behind Baltimore at 4-8.
As for the AFC North, the Ravens aren’t out of that race yet. They continue to trail the Bengals by two games with four contests to go, including a season-ending meeting between the clubs.
So if the Ravens pick up one game on Cincinnati over the next three weeks, the finale will be for the division crown. But Baltimore’s last four games are far from a walk.
Here’s a quick look:
Dec. 8 vs. Vikings (3-8-1)
Dec. 16 at Lions (7-5)
Dec. 22 vs. Patriots (9-3)
Dec. 29 at Bengals (8-4)
The Bengals finish with three of their last four games at home with only one of the four coming against a team currently over .500 - next week against the Colts (8-4).
So Cincinnati could be set up for a hot finish, having won two in a row since its first consecutive losses of the year.
But when it comes to the Ravens, all they have to do is take care of their own business at this point, and a sixth consecutive playoff berth could be waiting.