The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers are sitting in playoff spots with two weeks to go, but with how the schedule plays out it’ll be very hard for both to make the postseason.
The AFC North is very much still in the balance.
A tie between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns is all that is keeping Pittsburgh ahead of the Baltimore Ravens. On paper, it looks like both of these teams will make the playoffs, with one taking the division and the other taking the last wild card spot in the AFC. Look closer.
It’s actually highly unlikely that both the Ravens and the Steelers will make the playoffs.
Both teams have monster matchups in Week 16. The Ravens are taking on the Los Angeles Chargers, who might be the best team in the NFL. They are coming off a huge win against the Kansas City Chiefs, and when you look at the schedule they’ve only lost to the Rams, Chiefs and a trap game against the Broncos. They are hitting their stride, and they have everything to play for.
The Ravens come into this game a four-point underdog. It’s not predicted to be a blowout, but oddsmakers don’t see the Ravens winning.
The Steelers have to play the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome. It’s probably the hardest place to play in the NFL. The Saints are winning games in every sort of way. They’ve beaten teams with a high-flying offense. They can win with a dual-threat running game. Last week, they came out the winners in a defensive matchup with the Carolina Panthers.
The Steelers will look to take their momentum from beating the New England Patriots into another upset, but oddsmakers aren’t too sure here either. They are giving the Steelers six points against the Saints.
Now do losses this week guarantee one of these teams won’t make the playoffs? Technically not, but looking at the schedule of the other teams fighting for the sixth spot, it doesn’t look good.
The Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts are both favored in their matchups this week. The Titans take on the Josh Johnson-led Washington Redskins. Upsets happen, especially since the Redskins are still somehow in the playoff hunt, but this is a team on its fourth quarterback. Last week was a fluke, and it was against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Against a good team, the Redskins don’t stand much of a chance. Thus, oddsmakers made the Titans 10-point favorites.
Meanwhile, the Colts take on the New York Giants at home. Andrew Luck’s squad goes up against a lame-duck Eli Manning team that might be without Odell Beckham again. The Giants may have Saquon Barkley, but the Colts are rolling and the Giants don’t have much else.
If the Titans and Colts win their very easy matchup, and the Ravens and Steelers lose, then The Ravens move out of the playoffs while the Colts and Titans move up. The Ravens do hold the tiebreakers against both the Colts and Titans should that come into play. Well, here’s the kicker, the Titans and Colts play each other in Week 17.
The winner of that game basically makes the playoffs if this all works out like it’s set out to. That leaves one spot for the Steelers and Ravens. These two teams are playing for the division, and the other gets to play golf in January.