Ravens Path to the Playoffs after the Bye Week

Ravens Bye Week

The Baltimore Ravens just wrapped up their bye week, making it a good time to look ahead at their remaining schedule. At 6-3, they are the outright leaders of the division currently, and look poised to make the playoffs this year.

Predicting the Ravens Schedule After the Bye Week

Baltimore’s remaining schedule is easier than their starting schedule:

Last Word on Sport’s own David Latham predicted every game on Baltimore’s schedule before the season started. At this point in the season, he had the Ravens down as a 6-3 team. Fair to say that he has done a good job so far. He has the Ravens going 11-6, which means their post-bye record would be 5-3 (with losses to the Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Cincinnati Bengals).

11-6 would be a very respectable record to close out the 2022 regular season. Baltimore might be capable of more though.

No game in the NFL is a gimmie. However, with how the Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Atlanta Falcons are playing, these all seem like good mismatches for the Ravens. This makes the Ravens’ path to the playoffs seem relatively comfortable.

Week 15 against the Cleveland Browns is tough to call. Deshaun Watson will be Cleveland’s starting quarterback by then, but it is difficult to predict just how good the Browns will be when that comes. Baltimore only just beat the Browns 23-20 earlier in the season and so, if the Browns drastically improve, this could be a game that the Ravens drop.

Week 18 against the Bengals is another interesting matchup. Part of this will depend on if there is something to play for. It is likeliest that the Ravens will have secured their playoff spot (and perhaps division) at this point, yet the Bengals could still be competing for a wildcard spot. If this is the case, mark down the Bengals to win.

Are the Ravens the Clear Favorites in the AFC North Race?

The Ravens’ path to the playoffs is dependent on the other teams in the AFC North. Given their commanding position, however, their fate is in their own hands from here.

The Bengals sit in second place in the AFC North. They have a record of 5-4 but have looked inconsistent. It is unclear whether they are contenders or pretenders for the playoffs this year despite representing the AFC in the Super Bowl last season.

The Browns sit in third place at 3-6. They have struggled this year. Watson is due to become the team’s starting quarterback later this season, but it is unclear whether that will be enough to salvage their season.

In last place are the Steelers. They have a record of 3-6 and have looked dysfunctional all of this season. Quarterbacks Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett have both struggled and the Steelers look destined for a high draft pick in 2023.

The Steelers are still mathematically alive, but their road to the playoffs is an uphill battle. The Bengals are Baltimore’s most likely challenger for the AFC North title, but they need to iron out their inconsistencies. The Browns would need to go on a good run to keep their playoff hopes alive. As it stands, the Ravens are the best bet to clinch the division given the current standings and how they have played so far.

The Playoff Picture in the AFC

Winning the AFC North would guarantee the Ravens their playoff spot. If they let it slip and fall to second (or, worse, third) place in the division, the Ravens’ path to the playoffs could get complicated. This is mainly because of how good the AFC East is this year – the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, and Buffalo Bills all have six or more wins. It means that the competition for the wildcard spots is very high.

As it stands, the Ravens are the third seed in the AFC. They are behind the Bills and Kansas City Chiefs. Both these teams have six wins but have a game in hand. The Tennessee Titans are the least-impressive division winner in the AFC at the moment. They have a record of 5-3.

Ravens Getting Better and Healthier

The Ravens started the season with a lot of injury woes. David Ojabo, Ronnie Stanley, J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Marcus Peters were just a handful of players that missed time at the start of the season. While the team has lost Rashod Bateman for the rest of the year, they are gradually getting healthier. Marcus Williams’ injury was unfortunate, given how well he was playing, but he is due back soon. As are Dobbins and Edwards. There is also hope that this bye week will give time for Mark Andrews to recover (though Isaiah Likely has filled in excellently).

Even without Bateman, the Ravens seem a good offense with a lot of pieces returning. And, to replace Bateman, they ought to consider some free agent targets to facilitate their playoff push.

Not only are the Ravens getting healthier, they seem to also be getting better. Lamar Jackson struggled towards the end of some games at the start of the season but has returned to MVP-caliber form of late. His offense has looked solid, and the run-game looks rejuvenated after a poor start.

The blockbuster trade for Roquan Smith from the Chicago Bears has boosted the team a lot. The former Bears star played excellently against the New Orleans Saints on his debut and has lifted the defensive unit from ‘great’ to ‘elite’. If everything continues on this trajectory, the Ravens’ path to the playoffs should be fairly comfortable.