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NFL Playoff Picture: Predicting the AFC playoff bracket heading into Week 16

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USA Today Sports

NFL Playoff Picture: Predicting the AFC playoff bracket heading into Week 16

Well, Week 15 for the AFC was interesting to say the least.

Several teams clinched their division, while others suffered brutal losses.

Let's take a look at the AFC playoff picture heading into Week 16.

Shout out to our guy, Joe Ferreira, for making this a little easier for us. 

READ ALSO: NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE

AFC PLAYOFF BRACKET PROJECTION:

#1 New England Patriots (11-3) vs. lowest winning seed from AFC Wild Card round

#2 Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3) vs. highest winning seed from AFC Wild Card round

#3 Jacksonville Jaguars (10-4) vs. #6 Buffalo Bills (8-6)

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

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (#1 seed)
Record/Division Record:
11-3/3-1
Remaining Games: vs. Bills (8-6), vs. Jets (5-9)
Playoff Scenarios: The Patriots won a thriller Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers that pushed them to the number one seed.

Clinch home field advantage this week:
— Win vs. Bills + a Steelers loss + the Jags to lose or tie.

Clinch a first-round bye:
— Win + a Steelers loss OR
— Win + a Jaguars loss or tie OR
— Win + a Jaguars loss

Gaining home field advantage throughout the playoffs this week seems unlikely. 

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (#2 seed)
Record/Division Record:
11-3/5-0
Remaining Games: @Texans (4-10), vs. Browns (0-14)
Playoff Scenarios: The Steelers are coming off a heartbreaking loss that most definitely has left a bad taste in their mouths.

Clinch a first-round bye:
— Win vs. Texans + a Jaguars loss or tie 
— Steelers tie + a Jaguars loss.

Either way, a win is crucial for the Steelers with the Jaguars on their tails for the number 2 seed.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (#3 seed)
Record/Division Record:
 10-4/4-1
Remaining Games: @49ers (4-10), @Titans (8-6)
Playoff Scenarios: The Jaguars clinched their first playoff berth in 10 years on Sunday with their win over the Texans.

Clinch the AFC South:
— Win or tie OR
— Titans loss or tie.

They're also in the hunt for the No. 2 seed, so keep a look out for that.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (#4 seed)
Record/Division Record:
8-6/4-1
Remaining Games: vs. Dolphins (6-8), @Broncos (5-9)
Playoff Scenarios: The Chiefs got a huge win Saturday against the Chargers that helped them secure the fourth seed for a little while longer.

Clinch the AFC West this week:
— Win vs. Dolphins OR
— Tie vs. Dolphins + Chargers loss or tie OR
— Chargers loss.

TENNESSEE TITANS (#5 seed)
Record/Division Record:
8-6/4-1
Remaining Games: vs. Rams (10-4), vs Jaguars (10-4)
Playoff Scenarios: The Titans' loss Sunday did not help them with a tight race for the fifth and sixth seeds in the AFC. With two remaining tough games, things aren't looking good for them. 

Clinch a playoff berth:
— Win vs. Rams + a Ravens loss + a Bills loss.

BUFFALO BILLS (#6 seed)
Record/Division Record:
8-6/2-2
Remaining Games: @Patriots (11-3), @ Dolphins (6-8)
Playoff Scenarios: Not much to worry about this week if you're a Bills fan, besides beating Tom Brady and the Patriots in Gillette Stadium.

They can not clinch a playoff berth or be eliminated from the playoffs this week.

RELATED: LEWIS ONE STEP CLOSER TO HALL OF FAME

STILL IN THE HUNT:

7. BALTIMORE RAVENS
Record/Division Record:
8-6/3-2
Remaining Games: vs. Colts (3-11), vs. Bengals (5-9)
Playoff Scenarios: Just like the Bills, the Ravens can not clinch a playoff berth or be eliminated this week.

However, the Titans loss Sunday to the 49ers did help make the fifth or sixth seed a possibility. In the end, the Ravens need to win their remaining two games and they're in.

8. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Record/Division Record:
7-7/2-3
Remaining Games: @Jets (5-9), vs. Raiders (6-8)
Playoff Scenarios: Their loss Saturday to the Chiefs hurt them big time.

Eliminated from the playoffs with:
—  Loss vs. Jets OR
— Chiefs + Titans + Ravens win .

9. OAKLAND RAIDERS
Record/Division Record:
6-8/2-3
Remaining Games: @Eagles (11-2), @Chargers (7-6)
Playoff Scenarios: After a brutal last second loss to the Cowboys, the Raiders now have to travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles, who fared well without Carson Wentz.

Eliminated from the playoff picture:
— Loss or tie vs. Eagles OR
— Bills win or tie OR
— Chiefs loss + Titans win or tie OR
— Chiefs win or tie + Ravens win or tie OR
— Titans win or tie + Ravens win or tie.

That was confusing. Basically, they're out of luck.

10. MIAMI DOLPHINS
Record/Division Record:
6-8/2-3
Remaining Games: @Chiefs (8-6), vs. Bills (8-6)
Playoff Scenarios: Miami is running out of luck, and time. 

Eliminated from the playoffs with:
— Bills win or tie + Ravens win or tie OR
— Titans win or tie + Ravens win or tie OR
— Bills win or tie + Titans win or tie.

RELATED: RAVENS HOLIDAY GUIDE 

ELIMINATED: 

New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts and the Cleveland Browns

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Offensive, defensive and rookie of the year awards for Ravens' 2017 season

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USA Today Sports

Offensive, defensive and rookie of the year awards for Ravens' 2017 season

The Ravens' season had it's ups and down, but out of it came some bright spots.

The defense continued to prove dominate and the offense found its groove during the second half of the season, but who stood out the most?

Offensive MVP: RB Alex Collins

Collins was a late preseason pickup after being cut by the Seattle Seahawks and Ravens fans are grateful they let him go. After new acquisition Danny Woodhead injured his hamstring on the first drive in Week 1 and Terrance West injured his calf Week 5 in Oakland, Allen emerged as a saving grace. He finished the season with 973 yards, six touchdowns and 212 attempts averaging 4.6 yards-per-carry. His longest rushing attempt was 50-yards against the Steelers in Week 4, and then in Week 14, rushed 120-yards on their defense. 

RELATED: RAVENS' 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT ROUNDUP

Defensive MVP: OLB Terrell Suggs

This one was a toss up between Suggs and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, but considering the level at which Sizzle is playing at in his 15th season, his 2017 performance is MVP worthy.

The 35-year old finished the season with 49 combined tackles, 12 assist, 11 sacks and four forced fumbles. Suggs ranks 11th in the league in sacks and was voted to his seventh Pro Bowl, something that should be expected from the leader of a defense that finished the regular season ranked sixth in points allowed. During the Ravens' Week 12 matchup, Suggs proved he doesn't age when he strip sacked Texans QB Tom Savage with 4:44 remaining in the fourth, shifting the momentum back to the Ravens who were clinging on to a 23-16 win. He's suffered two Achilles tears and a torn bicep over the last 5.5 seasons but has remained Hall of Fame worthy. As of right now, T-Sizzle has no plans of retiring. 

RELATED: FIVE OFFSEASON QUESTIONS RAVENS MUST ANSWER

Rookie of the Year: CB Marlon Humphrey

The Ravens' 2017 first-round pick stepped up to the plate when starting CB Jimmy Smith's season was over after suffering a torn Achilles in Week 13. The rookie out of Alabama finished the season with 34 combined tackles, four assists and two interceptions. Pro Football Focus graded Humphrey the fifth-best cover corner in the league. QBs only had a 53.5 rating when they threw in his direction. PFF also gave Humphrey a 82.7 rookie rating. 

Humphrey will continue to prove his worth during the 2018 season if Jimmy Smith is still recovering come Week 1.

RELATED: IMPORTANT 2018 OFFSEASON DATES

Special Teams MVP: P Sam Koch

Koch is in his 12th season with the Ravens and he's continuing to prove how efficient that leg of his is. He had a season long of 67-yards and placed 40 of 84 punts inside the 20-yard line. Koch's accuracy earned him AFC special teams player of the week not once, but twice this season. The first came in Week 12 against the Houston Texans when he not only placed five punts inside the 20-yard line, but also faked a punt and threw a 22-yard pass to Chris Moore for a first down. The second honor came in Week 15 against the Cleveland Browns after placing four punts inside the 20-yard line, three of them inside the five. While neither Koch or kicker Justin Tucker were named to the Pro Bowl, Ravens fans never break a sweat when the game is in their hands, or should we say, legs.

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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