Week 18 and eventual Bills-Bengals game will determine wild-card round fate – The Denver Post


For a moment, the Ravens controlled their own destiny. But after watching a 10-point lead evaporate in Sunday night’s 16-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Bengals-Bills game postponed Monday night, Baltimore’s playoff picture remains unclear.

The Ravens have an 18% chance of earning the No. 3 seed in the AFC, a 9% chance of earning the No. 5 seed and a 76% chance of earning the No. 6 seed, according to the latest New York Times’ postseason projections on Tuesday.

Here are a few playoff scenarios to watch as the regular-season finale approaches.

Path to No. 3 seed

What they need: The Ravens needed the Buffalo Bills to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday in order to play in a winner-take-all matchup for the AFC North title on Sunday afternoon. The game, however, was suspended in the first quarter after Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest and is currently in critical condition.

The NFL announced Tuesday that the game will not be resumed this week and the Week 18 schedule remains unchanged. That means if the Ravens defeat Cincinnati, the Bengals will remain in first place in the division — for the time being. Baltimore will still need the Bills to beat Cincinnati if and when that game happens to win the division.

Most likely opponents: The Ravens will play either the Bengals or the Chargers if they finish third in the AFC. If the Denver Broncos defeat or tie with the Chargers on Sunday, Los Angeles will remain the No. 6 seed and travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens in a wild-card game.

The Chargers have won four straight games, including a 31-10 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 17. Quarterback Justin Herbert has been remarkably efficient during the streak, while the Chargers defense has held opponents to less than 20 points.

If the Chargers beat the Broncos, the Ravens will take on Cincinnati in the wild-card round.

Path to No. 5 seed

What they need: If the Ravens beat the Bengals and the Chargers lose this weekend, Baltimore will take the fifth spot in the AFC. If the Bengals-Bills game takes place on another date, Cincinnati will need to win to lock up the division, and the Ravens would earn the No. 5 seed.

Most likely opponents: If the Ravens finish the regular season as the No. 5 seed, they will play either the Jacksonville Jaguars or the Tennessee Titans on the road. The Jaguars, who defeated the Ravens in Week 12, currently hold the No. 4 seed and sit in first place in the AFC South. If Jacksonville loses to the Titans on Saturday, Tennessee will win the division.

The Ravens have played the Titans in each of their last two postseason appearances. After the Ravens suffered a shocking loss to Tennessee in the divisional round after the 2019 season, Baltimore got its revenge the following year, beating the Titans on the road in the wild-card round.

Path to No. 6 seed

What they need: The Ravens will be the No. 6 seed if they lose to the Bengals or the Chargers beat the Broncos and the Bengals beat the Bills. If Los Angeles and Baltimore win, the Ravens will have to watch closely at how the league handles the Bengals-Bills game.

Most likely opponents: At the moment, the Bengals seem like the most likely opponent if the Ravens are the No. 6 seed. If Cincinnati beats Baltimore and Buffalo and the Bills then lose to the New England Patriots, the Ravens will face the Bills in the wild-card round.

The Ravens could also potentially play Kansas City. The Chiefs would fall to the No. 3 seed if they lose to the Las Vegas Raiders, the Bills beat the Patriots and the Bengals beat Baltimore and Buffalo in their final two games.



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