While it's premature to begin prognosticating accurate playoff scenarios until the last quarter of the season, it still makes for good banter.
Right now, here are the AFC's playoff teams:
*Wins tiebreaker over Denver based on head-to-head win percentage.
^Wins tiebreaker over Pittsburgh based on best win percentage in conference games.
While the Ravens are the AFC's second-best team, the Texans (first) and the Patriots (third) are their biggest threats to date. The Ravens beat the Patriots in Week 3 (31-30), and lost at Houston in Week 7 (43-13).
To get a better look at how the second half of this season shapes up for those three teams, see the table below.
|Team||Playoff teams remaining on schedule||Combined record of remaining opponents|
|Texans||5||35-30 (53.8 winning percentage)|
|Ravens||4||34-32 (51.5 winning percentage)|
|3||33-31 (51.6 winning percentage)|
When the Ravens beat the Browns on Sunday, 25-15, their run defense did much better than they had been doing in recent weeks. In fact, they didn't give up a single touchdown without Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb, even though Cleveland was in the red zone five times.
If that kind of defense remains and the Ravens hold their water on the road, they should be in good shape come playoff time.
Current odds for the Ravens to claim the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage: 25 percent
The Patriots will probably beat the Texans in Week 14, as they are 19-3 at home (playoffs included) since 2010. And with two games against the Steelers within 15 days of each other, as well as two games against the Manning brothers in Weeks 15 and 16, the path to the No. 1 seed for Baltimore will not be easy.
Ravens' projected playoff seed: No. 2 seed
If the Patriots beat the Texans in Week 14, it would get the Ravens a bit closer to the No. 1 seed in the AFC. But the more you look at all the variables, the harder it is to say the Ravens will gain enough ground on the Texans to overtake them for the top spot in their conference.
The Week 7 loss to the Texans could very well prove to be more than just a loss for the Ravens. It may turn out to be the deciding factor for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Projected playoffs teams/seeds in the AFC
In that scenario, it's likely the Patriots would beat the Colts. If that was the case, regardless of what would happen in the other wild card game, the Ravens would host the Patriots in the divisional round of the playoffs, in what would be a rematch of their Week 3 contest.
Right now, it would seem as though the Patriots are the better team (maybe even the best team in the conference). But Baltimore is 23-1 in their last 24 home games, including 15 straight wins (playoffs included).
Especially considering what happened in last year's AFC Championship game, if Baltimore were to host New England in the playoffs this year, their home-field advantage would surely be amplified.