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NFL Playoff Picture 2017: Predicting the AFC playoff bracket heading into Week 17

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USA Today Sports

NFL Playoff Picture 2017: Predicting the AFC playoff bracket heading into Week 17

The final week for NFL teams to make their playoff dreams come true is here.

A lot of those dreams were broken in Week 16, but a few spots are up for grabs.

The NFL has moved several games with playoff implications from 1:00 p.m. ET to 4:25 p.m. ET, including Bengals-Ravens, Bills-Dolphins and Jaguars-Titans.

Let's take a look at the AFC playoff picture heading into Week 17.

Thanks to our guy, Joe Ferreira, for the help.

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AFC PLAYOFF BRACKET PROJECTION:

#1 New England Patriots (12-3) vs. lowest winning seed from AFC Wild Card round

#2 Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3) vs. highest winning seed from AFC Wild Card round

#3 Jacksonville Jaguars (10-5) vs. #6 Tennessee Titans (8-7)

#4 Kansas City Chiefs (9-6) vs. #5 Baltimore Ravens (9-6)

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (#1 seed)
Record/Division Record:
12-3/4-1
Remaining Games: vs. Jets (5-10)
Playoff Scenarios: The Bills gave the Patriots a run for their money Sunday, but Tom Brady and company came out on top. They've clinched the AFC East and a first-round bye.

Clinch home-field advantage throughout playoffs:
-Win OR

-Steelers loss OR

-Tie + Steelers tie

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (#2 seed)
Record/Division Record:
12-3/5-0
Remaining Games: vs. Browns (0-15)
Playoff Scenarios: The Steelers just blew out the Texans 34-6 and have another easy week ahead of them against the Browns. They've clinched the AFC North and a first-round bye.

Clinch home-field advantage throughout playoffs:

-Win + Patriots loss or tie OR

-Tie + Patriots loss

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (#3 seed)
Record/Division Record:
 10-5/4-1
Remaining Games: @Titans (8-7)
Playoff Scenarios: The Jags went into Jimmy G's territory and lost an unexpected one.

The No. 3 seed still belongs to them, but with the Steelers' massive win over the Texans, they lost any chance of having a bye week.

Now they just wait and see who they will be facing in the wild card round.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (#4 seed)
Record/Division Record:
9-6/4-1
Remaining Games: @Broncos (5-10)
Playoff Scenarios: Week 16 brought an easy 29-13 win over the Dolphins and Week 17 against the Broncos should bring the same.

The Chiefs have secured the No. 4 seed and it seems like a safe bet to say they'll be facing the No. 5 seeded Ravens in the wild card round.

BALTIMORE RAVENS (#5 seed)
Record/Division Record:
 9-6/3-2
Remaining Games: vs. Bengals (6-9)
Playoff Scenarios: The Ravens are in control of their own destiny; get a win and you're in. If that doesn't work, there are some options.

Clinch playoff berth:

-Win or tie OR

-Bills loss or tie OR

-Titans loss or tie

TENNESSEE TITANS (#6 seed)
Record/Division Record:
8-7/4-1
Remaining Games: vs Jaguars (10-5)
Playoff Scenarios: The Titans have fallen in the rankings after losing at home to the Rams and Sunday's game against the Jaguars could knock them out completely.

Clinch playoff berth:

-Win OR

-Tie + Bills loss or tie +Chargers loss or tie OR

-Bills loss + Chargers loss

RELATED: THREE RAVENS NAMED TO 2018 PRO BOWL

STILL IN THE HUNT:

7. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Record/Division Record:
 8-7/2-3
Remaining Games: vs. Raiders (6-8)
Playoff Scenarios: The Chargers have risen in the rankings and with some help from the Titans, they could slide into the No. 6 seed.

Clinch playoff berth: 

-Win +Titans loss or tie + Bills loss or tie OR

-Win + Titans loss or tie + Ravens win or tie OR

-Tie + Titans loss + Bills loss or tie

8. BUFFALO BILLS
Record/Division Record:
8-7/2-3
Remaining Games: @ Dolphins (6-8)
Playoff Scenarios: The Bills' foreseen loss to the Patriots made them fall all the way to the No. 8 seed. They can get into the playoffs, but they are going to need some help.

Clinch playoff berth:

-Win + Ravens loss OR

-Win + Chargers loss or tie + Titans loss or tie OR

-Tie + Chargers loss + Titans loss

ELIMINATED: 

New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins and the Oakland Raiders.

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Important 2018 offseason dates for Baltimore Ravens

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USA Today Sports

Important 2018 offseason dates for Baltimore Ravens

Mark your calendars now because the Ravens are already gearing up for their 2018 season.

From the Pro-Bowl all the way to the start of the regular season, here are the key dates.

January 28th: Pro Bowl, Orlando, Fla. 

Safety Eric Weddle, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley will all be in attendance. In addition, Suggs and Weddle were named starters. The game will take place at Camping World Stadium. Kickoff is at 3:00 p.m. ET on ABC and ESPN.

February 3rd: Pro Football Hall of Fame 2018 Class announced

This will be a very important day for Ray Lewis and the Ravens organization as Lewis waits to here if he will be sealed into football history, one day prior to Super Bowl LII. 

February 5th: Waiver system takes effect

The waiver system allows players' contracts or a club's NFL rights to a player available to other clubs in the league. Upon doing this, the other 31 teams can place a claim to obtain him or waive their chance. During this 24- hour period, once a club waives a player it can not take the player back or change his status. Assignments are based upon draft order until the third week of the regular season. If a player does not get claimed, he becomes a free agent. 

February 20th:  First day to franchise or transition tag a player

February 27th- March 5th: NFL Scouting Combine, Indianapolis, IN

This seven day period will be crucial for General Manager Ozzie Newsome to get a good look at potential Ravens.

March 6th: Deadline to franchise or transition tag a player

March 12-14th: Teams are allowed to contact and negotiate with agents of players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents

March 14th: Start of new league year at 4:00 p.m. ET

At this time, all 2017 player contracts expire meaning teams can begin seeking and signing free agents. Ravens free agents include Mike Wallace, Benjamin Watson, Ryan Jensen, Terrance West, James Hurst, Michael Campanaro, Steven Johnson, Ryan Mallet, Brandon Boykin, Crockett Gillmore, Brent Urban and Luke Bowanko.

March 25-28th: Owners Meeting, Orlando, FL

April 16th: Voluntary OTA's can begin

April 20th: Deadline for restricted FA's to sign offer sheets

April 26th-28th: 2018 NFL Draft, Arlington, TX

The Ravens will be heading down to Arlington, Texas in hopes of picking up their next franchise player. Positions needed include wide receiver, tight end, quarterback and outside linebacker.

May 4-7th or 11-14th: Potential three-day rookie minicamp

May 31-June 2nd: Ravens Beach Bash, Ocean City, MD

July 16th: Deadline to get long-term deal done with designated franchise tag player 

Mid-Late July: Training camp begins

August 2nd: Hall of Fame Game, Canton, OH

August 4th: Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Canton, OH

Again, keep this date marked as it could be the day Ray Lewis is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

September 6th: Start of regular season 

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Don Martindale promoted to Ravens defensive coordinator

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USA Today Sports

Don Martindale promoted to Ravens defensive coordinator

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh has promoted linebackers coach Don Martindale to defensive coordinator, assuring a seamless transition in the wake of Dean Pees' retirement.

Martindale has been coaching Baltimore linebackers since 2012. The 54-year-old was the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos in 2010.

After Pees ended his six-year run as the Ravens' defensive coordinator on Jan. 1, Harbaugh said he wanted to maintain continuity with his new hire.

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"I'm a believer in this system," Harbaugh said last week. "This system has been something that's been developed for a long period of time, and we have worked really hard every single year to make it better."

Martindale has been part of that process. He coached the Ravens inside linebackers from 2012-15 and spent the past two seasons as the team's linebackers coach.

In announcing the move Tuesday, Harbaugh said Martindale's "aggressive mentality will serve to take our defense to new levels."

Harbaugh said Martindale "knows the ins and outs of what we have been about on defense and has been an important contributor to our success on that side of the ball."

Also on Tuesday, Harbaugh promoted Mike Macdonald to linebackers coach and Sterling Lucas to quality control defense.

The 30-year-old Macdonald joined the Ravens in 2014 as a coaching intern on defense. He served as a defensive assistant in 2015 and 2016, and this season was the defensive backs coach. Baltimore led the NFL this season with 22 interceptions and forced a league-best 34 turnovers.

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