(WJZ)- The Ravens enter Week 16 with a pretty straightforward path to the playoffs. Win your final two games and get help from Miami or Pittsburgh and you’re in. Once there, the question becomes how will the team do? Each of the past two seasons, they have bowed out in just one game after getting behind big to their opponents and being forced out of their rhythm on offense trying to catch up.
NFL on CBS analyst Charles Davis looks at this year’s team and sees on that could be even more dangerous than the one that went 14-2 last year.
“If Baltimore jumps in there and gets one of the last spots……it wouldn’t surprise me and I think Baltimore is the team that you don’t want to get into the playoffs if you have to play them. They’re the one that you’re kind of hoping, if they get left home, ‘I’m good’. Not that you don’t respect the others because you do but Baltimore is just a whole different animal trying to run around chasing Lamar and it feels to me like they’re getting their mojo back,” said Davis in an interview with CBS Local’s Ryan Mayer.
On a three-game winning streak in which they’ve piled up 34, 47 and 40 points on the Cowboys, Browns and Jaguars respectively, it’s easy to see why Davis feels that way. The running game has reverted to its fully operational soul-crushing form in recent weeks piling up 294, 231 and 159 in those three games. The defense, is hopefully getting Calais Campbell and Marcus Peters back in time for the stretch run. Those additions, plus the investment in figuring out the passing game Davis says, leaves the Ravens a team that other playoff contenders won’t like to face.
“They’re the team that you’re like ‘ahhhh shoot’. Their record won’t be nearly as good as it was last year. But if they get in, it almost feels like they could be more dangerous,” said Davis.
This assumes, of course, that they are able to get the help they need in addition to winning their next two games. While they’re favored by win probability against both the Giants and Bengals to end the season, their help may be harder to come by.
The Dolphins get to face a Raiders team that could be missing starting quarterback Derek Carr. They hold a 64% win probability according to FiveThirtyEight on Saturday night now as a result. If the Dolphins win that game, the Ravens would need them to lose next week against Buffalo which, could happen.
Thanks to the Steelers loss on Monday night, the Bills could be playing to keep the two seed in the AFC next week meaning they’re likely to go for the win rather than resting guys. In that case, it likely helps the Ravens cause as the Bills are given a 75% win probability in that game.
But, the play of the Steelers is perhaps more concerning for Ravens fans. Pittsburgh could help Baltimore jump all the way up to the fifth seed if it were to beat the Colts this week and the Browns next week. But, after dropping three straight games, the Steelers are now underdogs in both of those games by FiveThirtyEight’s projections. If the Steelers were to drop both of those games, falling to 11-5, the Ravens would be stuck in the seventh seed due to Pittsburgh holding the head-to-head tiebreaker.
That said, ESPN’s FPI has the Ravens missing the playoffs just 0.6% of the time in the event that they win 11 games. So it would seem that as long as they win out, they are a fairly safe bet to make the postseason.
There is a 4.9% chance that an 11-win team will not make the NFL playoffs this season.
Which teams are the most at risk?
Colts 3.2% (632 times out of 20k simulations)
Source: ESPN's Football Power Index
— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) December 22, 2020
The Ravens need to win out and get help to get into the postseason. But, if they get there, Davis believes they could make some noise.
The Ravens host the New York Giants on Sunday, December 27 at M&T Bank Stadium with kickoff slated for 1:00 p.m. EST.