Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens no longer control their own destiny, but there are still multiple paths to the playoffs.
The 9-5 Baltimore Ravens, led by reigning MVP winner Lamar Jackson, are in the heat of a nasty playoff race in the AFC with just two games remaining on the regular season slate.
As of right now, Jackson would be watching from the sidelines when the 2021 NFL Playoffs ensue. But a couple of scenarios and some good fortune could put Jackson smack dab back into the wild card round when the playoffs begin on Jan. 9.
The final two opponents for the Ravens: The New York Giants and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Those two teams are a combined 8-19-1 this season. You would think that with Lamar Jackson at the helm he has a great chance to lead his team to two more victories down the stretch.
The Giants will get starting quarterback Daniel Jones back for the game today to battle Lamar’s Ravens while the Bengals are fighting to save themselves an embarrassing season after 2020 No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow went down with a season-ending injury in Week 11.
How can Jackson head back to the playoffs?
Well, unfortunately for Lamar, just winning the last two games will not be good enough. They will need a little bit of help.
The Miami Dolphins won a nail-biting thriller on Saturday night over the Las Vegas Raiders to hold on to the third and final wild card position in the AFC.
Now, there are multiple teams to root against as the home stretch of the season unfolds.
(All scenarios via baltimoresun.com)
The Ravens need…
- Two wins AND one loss by the Dolphins (in Week 17), Colts or Browns. (The Ravens’ tiebreaker over the Dolphins would be strength of victory, where they currently hold a strong advantage.)
- Two wins AND two losses by the Titans.
- A Week 16 win vs. the Giants AND two losses by the Browns or Colts.
- A Week 17 win vs. the Bengals AND a Week 17 loss by the Dolphins.
In summary, root against the Titans, Colts, and Browns each of the last two weeks and root against the Dolphins in Week 17.
And, of course, root for Jackson to lead his team to victory the final two weeks.
Each of the bulleted points could put Lamar Jackson back in the playoffs where he belongs. Even if the Ravens were to lose this week, they would still not be eliminated from playoff contention.
If Lamar can lead the team to victory each of the two weeks, the Dolphins, Colts, or Browns need to lose just once to put the Ravens in.
IF Ravens win both of final two games, Ravens are in on any of these scenarios:
Dolphins lose one of: Week 17, Buffalo Bills (11-3)
Browns lose one of: Week 16, New York Jets (1-13), Week 17: Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3)
Colts lose one of: Week 16, Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3), Week 17: Jacksonville Jaguars (1-13)
Titans lose both of: Week 16, Green Bay Packers (11-3), Week 17: Houston Texans (4-10)
The Ravens would be eliminated from contention if they lose each of their last two matchups.
Does Lamar Jackson have any more heroics left in him for 2020?