Since the arrival of Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh in 2008, the Baltimore Ravens have not missed the postseason. The team hopes to clinch a playoff spot for the sixth consecutive year on Sunday .
The Ravens will be guaranteed a postseason position if they beat the New England Patriots, if the Miami Dolphins lose, and if the San Diego Chargers lose or tie.
UPDATE: The Ravens lost, the Dolphins lost, and the Chargers won.
The Miami Dolphins (8-7) flopped against the Buffalo Bills (6-9) in Week 16. If the Ravens and the Dolphins end the season with the same record, the Ravens hold the tiebreaker over the Dolphins after beating them on the road in Week 5. So, the Dolphins can win next week and still be sent home if the Ravens beat the Bengals in week 17.
The San Diego Chargers (8-7) beat the Oakland Raiders (4-11) at home this Sunday. After the Chargers turned their season around, they made their way back into the mix of things in the second half of the season. Most recently, the Chargers upset the Denver Broncos, improving their record and showing that they are not a team to be overlooked. They face the Chiefs in week 17.
The Ravens no longer have a chance to earn the division crown, but can make the playoffs with a win next week. The Ravens win and they’re in- it’s that simple. If the Ravens lose, they’ll need a heap of help, but they could still sneak in with losses from Pittsburgh, Miami and San Diego.
Until this embarrassing loss to the Patriots, the Ravens had begun to hit their stride late in the season, having won every game since mid-November. With Dennis Pitta back and Ray Rice becoming more involved with the offense, the team’s offense is becoming dominant. The defense has shown similarities to previous Ravens’ defenses, with linebacker Daryl Smith resembling a young Ray Lewis.
If the Ravens are able to keep up their style of play the team will make it to the playoffs for the sixth season in a row.