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NFL Playoff Picture: Predicting the AFC playoff bracket heading into Week 15

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USA Today Sports

NFL Playoff Picture: Predicting the AFC playoff bracket heading into Week 15

Week 14 has come and gone and the regular season is almost over.

With another week finishing, the playoff picture shifts and the bracket alters, if ever so slightly.

And while to no surprise the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots are sitting atop of the AFC, the wild card spots are still very much up for grabs. 

With three weeks to go, AFC teams have a lot to play for.

Let's take a look at all the possibilities. Let's take a look at the AFC Playoff Picture.

RELATED: NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE AFTER WEEK 15

AFC PLAYOFF BRACKET PROJECTION:

— #1 Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2) vs. BYE

— #2 New England Patriots (10-3) vs. BYE

— #3 Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4) vs. #6 Buffalo Bills (7-6)

— #4 Kansas City Chiefs (7-6) vs. #5 Tennessee Titans (8-5)

AFC Playoff Picture Week 15

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (#1 seed)
— Record/Division Record:
11-2/5-0
— Remaining Games: @Patriots (10-2), @Texans (4-9), vs. Browns (0-13)
— Playoff Scenarios: The Steelers sit atop of the AFC playoff picture and clinched the AFC North with their 39-38 win over the Baltimore Ravens.

Now they are fighting for home field advantage for their likely divisional round game against the New England Patriots.

Coincidentally, their next matchup is against Tom Brady and the Patriots. Needless to say, their Week 15 game will be an important one.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (#2 seed)
— Record/Division Record:
10-3/3-1
— Remaining Games: @Steelers (11-2), vs. Bills (7-6), vs. Jets (5-7)
— Playoff Scenarios: To everyone's surprise, the Patriots lost Monday night to the Miami Dolphins. You read that right, the Miami Dolphins.

Sitting in the second seed, this lost could mean a lot or a little depending on what they do Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It's highly doubtful that the Pats will allow back-to-back losses on home turf, but if they do they'll be fighting to keep the second seed to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags are hosting the Texans, which should be an easy win.

Sunday's game is a big one for the Patriots. 

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (#3 seed)
— Record/Division Record:
9-4/3-1
— Remaining Games: vs. Texans (4-9), @49ers (3-10), @Titans (8-5)
— Playoff Scenarios: If someone told you at the beginning of the season that the Jacksonville Jaguars would be the third seed in the AFC playoff picture, you probably wouldn't believe them. 

The Jaguars could have clinched a playoff berth Sunday with their win over the Seattle Seahawks and some help from a couple other teams.

They didn't get that help, but they did take control of the AFC South. On their tail is the 8-5 Tennessee Titans who still have to face the 49ers, Rams and Jaguars.

The AFC East title may not be decided until Week 17.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (#4 seed)
— Record/Division Record:
7-6/3-1
— Remaining Games: vs. Chargers (7-6), vs. Dolphins (5-7), @Broncos (4-9)
— Playoff Scenarios: The Chiefs' season has be filled with ups and downs.

They currently have the same record as the Los Angeles Chargers, but win the tie breaker based on head-to-head win percentage for the AFC West division title. The two will meet in Week 15 and just like the Patriots, a win is crucial for both. 

The Chiefs then face the 10th seeded Miami Dolphins and the already eliminated Denver Broncos. The Chargers still have to face the Jets and Raiders, and with the team on a four game winning streak, a lot could happen.

TENNESSEE TITANS (#5 seed)
— Record/Division Record:
8-5/4-1
— Remaining Games: @49ers (3-10), vs. Rams (9-4), vs Jaguars (9-4)
— Playoff Scenarios: The Titans are a mediocre team and if they want to keep their playoff spot, they're going to have to work for it. The 49ers should be a win, but then they face the red-hot Rams and a tough Jaguars defense.

With several AFC teams on the rise, the Titans are going to have to be on point for the remainder of the season if they want to keep their wild card spot.

BUFFALO BILLS (#6 seed)
— Record/Division Record:
7-6/1-2
— Remaining Games: vs. Dolphins (5-7), @Patriots (10-2), @ Dolphins (5-7)
— Playoff Scenarios: Right now, the Bills would win a three way tie breaker with the Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Chargers for the sixth and final playoff spot based on strength of victory and win percentage in conference games.

The Bills should win two of the next three, but the Ravens are likely to win their next three.

Either way, it's going to be a race to the finish line for both of them.

RELATED: UPDATED 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 3.0

IN THE HUNT:

7. BALTIMORE RAVENS
— Record/Division Record: 
7-6/2-2
— Remaining Games: @Browns (0-13), vs. Colts (3-10), vs. Bengals (5-8)
— Playoff Scenarios: The Ravens basically need to do their job and get three easy wins and they should secure a wild card spot.

Of course the Bills still have an easy remaining schedule and the Chargers have won their last four. At the moment though, the Ravens win a tie breaker over the Chargers based on win percentage in conference games.

A wild card spot for the Ravens looks easy and they are certainly in control of their own destiny. 

8. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
— Record/Division Record:
7-6/2-2
— Remaining Games: @Cheifs (7-6) , @Jets (5-8), vs. Raiders (6-7)
— Playoff Scenarios: Sunday's game against the Cheifs is a big one for the Chargers.

They're on a four-game winning streak, but a win is crucial if they want to remain in the hunt for the AFC West title. The Jets are 5-8 and should be an easy win for the Chargers and the 6-7 Raiders are just behind them in the rankings but don't pose too much of a threat.

Sunday's game will determine a lot for this team.

9. OAKLAND RAIDERS
— Record/Division Record:
6-7/2-3
— Remaining Games: vs. Cowboys (7-6), @Eagles (11-2), @Chargers (7-6)
— Playoff Scenerios: Things aren't looking good for the Raiders as they are in third in the AFC West and are facing the Cowboys, Eagles and Chargers over the next three weeks.

It doesn't seem as if there are any scenerios that would help them make the post season.

10. MIAMI DOLPHINS
— Record/Division Record:
6-7/2-2
— Remaining Games: @Bills (7-6), @Cheifs (7-6), vs. Bills (7-6)
— Playoff Scenerios: The Dolphins are coming off a big win against the New England Patriots, but their season looks pretty dim moving forward.

With a tough remaining schedule, their playoff hopes seem far fetched. While they have the same record as the Raiders, Oakland wins a tie breaker based on head-to-head win percentage.

11. NEW YORK JETS
— Record/Divison Record:
5-8/2-3
— Remaining Games: @Saints (9-4), @Chargers (7-6), @Patriots (10-3)
— Playoff Scenerios: Being the 11th seed in anything isn't good and with your remaining opponets being the Saints, Chargers and Patriots, you might as well call it a season now. 

12. CINCINNATI BENGALS
— Record/Division Record:
5-8/2-3
— Remaining Games: @Vikings (10-3), vs. Lions (7-5), @Ravens (7-6)
— Playoff Scenerios: Just like the Jets, the Bengals don't have a fighting chance with their remaining schedule and being third in the AFC North.

Eliminated

Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, Indianaplos Colts, Cleveland Browns

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Baltimore Ravens' 2018 regular season matchups, dates and times

Baltimore Ravens' 2018 regular season matchups, dates and times

We've known the Ravens' 2018 preseason and regular season opponents for some time now, but the NFL finally released their full schedule with exact dates and times.

As they do every year, the Ravens will be seeing the Bengals, Steelers and Browns twice. 

For the ninth consecutive year, Week 16 and 17 will be divisional games with playoff implications.

The Ravens will also be playing in the Pro Football Hall of Fame preseason game against the Chicago Bears in Canton, Ohio, bringing an extra preseason game to their schedule.

In the regular season, the birds will be flocking south to take on the Panthers, Falcons and Titans. They haven't seen the Panthers or Falcons since 2014 - both ending in wins - and came up just short against the Titans in their 23-20 loss last season.

The Ravens will only have to travel to the west coast once when they take on the Los Angeles Chargers, who they last saw in 2015 and earned a 29-26 win.

Not including AFC North rivals, the last time the Ravens saw their remaining five home opponents they came away with wins. Hopefully history will repeat itself.

Prime-time games, which the Ravens have two of, will kick off at earlier times than in the past. Monday Night Football will now start at 8:15 p.m. while Thursday and Sunday Night Football will start at 8:20 p.m.

Ravens 2018 Regular-Season Schedule:

Week 1: Sunday, 9/9 vs. Bills, 1:00 p.m.

Week 2: Thursday, 9/13 @ Bengals, 8:20 p.m.

Week 3: Sunday, 9/23 vs. Broncos. 1:00 p.m.

Week 4: Sunday, 9/30 @ Steelers, 8:20 p.m.

Week 5: Sunday, 10/7 @ Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 6: Sunday 10/14 @ Titans, 4:25 p.m.

Week 7: Sunday, 10/21 vs. Saints, 4:05 p.m.

Week 8: Sunday 10/28 @ Panthers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 9: Sunday 11/4 vs. Steelers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 10:  BYE week

Week 11: Sunday 11/18 vs. Bengals, 1:00 p.m.

Week 12: Sunday 11/25 vs. Raiders, 1:00 p.m.

Week 13: Sunday 12/2 @ Falcons, 1:00 p.m.

Week 14: Sunday 12/9 @ Chiefs, 1:00 p.m.

Week 15: Sunday 12/16 vs. Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 16: Saturday 12/22 or Sunday 12/23 @ Chargers, TBD

Week 17: Sunday 12/30 vs. Browns, 1:00 p.m.


PRESEASON 

Hall of Fame Game: Thurs., 8/2, vs. Chicago Bears (Canton, OH), 8:00pm (NBC).

Week 1: Thurs., 8/9, vs. Los Angeles Rams

Week 2: Mon. 8/20,  at Indianapolis Colts (Monday Night Football, ESPN).

Week 3: at Miami Dolphins*

Week 4: Thurs., 8/30 at Washington Redskins

* - Game date and time not yet determined

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As 2018 NFL Draft approaches, Ravens to host QB Lamar Jackson per report

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USA TODAY Sports

As 2018 NFL Draft approaches, Ravens to host QB Lamar Jackson per report

With 10 days until the 2018 NFL Draft, quarterback Lamar Jackson is set to visit the Ravens this week, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. 

The former Heisman Trophy winner is a projected first-round pick as he has proven to have success in the air and on the ground. 

While at Louisville, Jackson had 9,043 passing yards and 69 touchdowns. He also rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns. His NFL draft profile compares him to Michael Vick. 

RELATED: BEST QUOTES FROM RAVENS PRE-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE

The Ravens are in search of Joe Flacco's successor, but spending a first-round pick on a quarterback when there are other glaring needs is up in the air. However, assistant general manager Eric DeCosta isn't ruling out the possibility

"I feel like if there is a guy there that we think is really too good to pass up, we're going to take him," DeCosta told the team's website on the chance of drafting a quarterback in the first-round.

At their pre-draft press conference, GM Ozzie Newsome and DeCosta kept reiterating we could be surprised by who they pick at No. 16, if they do at all. 

While Jackson's numbers are impressive, he continues to be considered a late first-round pick as his build isn't up to typical NFL QB standards and scouts are concerned with his accuracy. What he does have in his favor is speed.

While fans are hoping for an offensive weapon, having Jackson learn under Flacco for a year (and maybe RGIII?) could rev up some excitement. 

RELATED: RGIII READY TO MOVE FORWARD AS NEW, GROWN PLAYER