Ravens

Ravens fans' Week 15 AFC Wild Card rooting guide

Ravens

The Ravens scored a huge win on Monday Night Football against the Browns, keeping their playoff hopes alive as they enter the final stretch of their 2020 regular season.

The remaining schedule looks light - the Ravens have the easiest final three games in the league, according to most metrics - but Baltimore is still on the outside of the playoff picture looking in despite their 8-5 record.

That means that, even though their chances of making the playoffs is higher than 90% according to some evaluators, they still need a little help elsewhere in the AFC Wild Card race - even if they finish with 11 wins.

So, what games do Ravens fans need to pay attention to? Now that the Las Vegas Raiders have already played on Thursday night, that leaves four games in Week 15 that can potentially impact the Ravens' playoff chances. Here they are.

New England Patriots (6-7) at Miami Dolphins (8-5) - Sunday, 1 p.m.

The Ravens are hoping to pass any of the three AFC Wild Card teams currently ahead of them, but the Dolphins seem like the best bet. They are the only other contender with five losses already, but they hold the tiebreaker over the Ravens as a result of their stronger conference record.

Miami's closing schedule is tough and all it takes is one loss for the Ravens to pass them, assuming they take care of their own business. It starts Sunday against the Patriots, who have historically struggled in Miami.

Of course, that history was with Tom Brady at the helm and not Cam Newton. The Patriots have struggled on offense for most of the season, but they are technically still alive in the postseason race as well and you know Bill Belichik will have a plan in place against rookie Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa.

 

Ravens fans may not enjoy the thought of rooting for New England, but they definitely should be in Week 15.

Houston Texans (4-9) at Indianapolis Colts (9-4) - Sunday, 1 p.m.

The Ravens' rooting interests in this one are simple: hope for the Colts to lose. It may not happen going against the depleted Texans, but Houston did play Indianapolis close in their matchup just a couple of weeks ago. No team is ever out of a game with Deshaun Watson running the offense.

The Colts are a game ahead of the Ravens at 9-4, but the Ravens hold the tiebreaker over Indianapolis, so if they win out and the Colts lose at least one game, the Ravens will make the postseason.

The Colts do head to Pittsburgh in Week 16, so if they don't lose in Week 15 they will still have another decent opportunity to drop a game. The Ravens won't care when it happens, just that Indianapolis picks up a fifth loss somewhere in the final three weeks. Hopefully for them, the Texans are able to step up against their AFC South rivals.

Detroit Lions (5-8) at Tennessee Titans (9-4) - Sunday, 1 p.m.

The Titans aren't currently one of the AFC's Wild Card teams, but they are tied with the Colts at 9-4, so either team could end up competing with the Ravens for one of those final three spots.

This is a tricky one to gauge. If the Colts continue to win, then Ravens fans should hope for the Titans to lose a couple of games, so that they might finish with a worse record than Baltimore. The Titans would hold a head-to-head tiebreaker, so they would need to lose twice and the Ravens to win out for it to make a difference.

But as mentioned above, the Ravens do hold a tiebreaker over the Colts, so they should be hoping it is the Titans who win the AFC South, forcing the Colts into the Wild Card race and, therefore, a battle with the Ravens.

Long story short: if the Colts are losing, root for the Titans to win. If the Colts are winning, root for the Titans to lose.

Cleveland Browns (9-4) and New York Giants (5-8) - Sunday, 8:20 p.m.

The Giants could play spoiler in the AFC Wild Card race the next two weeks, as they take on the Browns in Week 15 and the Ravens in Week 16. Of course, for this week at least the Ravens are hoping they play better than their losing record.

The Browns are 9-2 against teams other than the Ravens this season, so they are going to be heavily favored. But the Giants do have a strong run defense and the Cleveland offense is predicated on their rushing attack, so it will be interesting to see who comes away victorious. The Giants are still alive in the NFC East, so they'll have plenty to play for.

 

If the Ravens end up tied with the Browns - which they would be with a win and a Browns loss - they will hold the tiebreaker thanks to their season sweep of Cleveland. Fans in Baltimore certainly wouldn't mind seeing their division rivals take a step down, but they'd happily see any of the Giants, Texans, Lions and Patriots win this week if it means earning a spot in the postseason picture.