Two weeks ago it was hard to fathom the Baltimore Ravens owning the sixth seed and final playoff spot, but back-to-back wins will do that for you in 2013 and a wacky AFC. Baltimore control's their own destiny over the final four games and today we take a look at the tough stretch.
The Ravens are tied with the Miami Dolphins for the final wildcard spot, but own the head-to-head tiebreaker after beating them earlier this season. There are a group of teams just one game behind the Ravens and Dolphins so the race is far from over, but Baltimore takes the spot if they handle their business.
Baltimore's final four games are no easy stretch with two home games and two away games and three of the four against current playoff teams.
This Sunday would be considered the "easiest" game of the four as Baltimore will host the Minnesota Vikings, but when you are facing Adrian Peterson, there is no such thing as an easy game. Having said that, this will be a game that the Ravens need to win if they want to make the playoffs because their remaining three games are set to be much tougher.
Following their game against the Vikings, Baltimore will start a two week stretch that will see them play in primetime in back-to-back weeks, beginning with a Monday Night showdown against the hosting Detroit Lions. So not only do the Ravens have to face the league's best running back in their final four games, but they will also have to face the league's best wide receiver in the Lions' Calvin Johnson. Detroit is currently a playoff team as leaders in the NFC North and at home their offense is extremely dangerous. It will be a raucous crowd at Ford Field and will be a good test for the Ravens.
So, the Ravens will face the best running back, followed by the best wide receiver, and then arguable the best quarterback as week 16 brings the New England Patriots to Charm City for Sunday Night Football. We here at Ravens101 are actually less worried about this game than the Lions game due to the extreme familiarity the Ravens have with the Patriots. New England will have their division locked up at this point and depending on how the Broncos play, New England may be settled into the number two seed, which means they would not have much to play for if that is the case.
Finally, come week 17, the Ravens could not only have a shot at a wildcard spot, but their finale against the Cincinnati Bengals could also be for the AFC North division title. Baltimore trails the Bengals by just two games in the standings and if the Ravens can gain one game in the standings by the final week of the season, a Ravens win would result in a division title since they would have swept the Bengals to clinch the tiebreaker.
It is certainly not an easy four game stretch, but it is also not impossible either. Baltimore will have to take care of business if they want to get to the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season, and keep their goal of another AFC North title within reach.
Ravens Remaining Schedule:
- Dec 8 vs Vikings 1pm
- Dec 16 at Lions 8:40pm
- Dec 22 vs Patriots 8:30pm
- Dec 29 at Bengals 1pm
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