I had heard some rumblings about this before, but Jamison Hensley of ESPN confirmed it today. If the Ravens win their remaining four games, they will earn the AFC’s #1 seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs, regardless of what the other teams in the race (New England, Houston) do from here on out.
The Ravens would capture the top seed in the AFC for the first time in their history if they win their last four games.
Thirteen weeks into the regular season, Baltimore (9-3) is tied with Houston, New England and Pittsburgh for the best record in the AFC.
If all four teams win out, the Ravens have the tiebreaker advantage on all of them:
- Baltimore would win the AFC North because it swept Pittsburgh
- The Ravens beat Houston head-to-head earlier this season
- The Ravens and Patriots would finish with the same conference record, but Baltimore would have a better record among common opponents. Under the scenario that the Ravens and Patriots would win the rest of their games, both teams would be undefeated against San Diego, New York Jets and Indianapolis. But New England lost to Pittsburgh, a team that the Ravens swept.
The term “controlling your own destiny” is very cliche’ and overused in sports today, but this is the true definition of the phrase. Keep winning, and it doesn’t matter what anybody else does – you’ll get to where you want to go.
After three straight years of going on the road for the postseason and ultimately failing at some point along the way, it would be huge for the Ravens to finally get a home playoff game. A home playoff game along with a bye and the very real chance to host the AFC Championship game for the first time in team history? Almost sounds too good to be true.
But it’s not.
That is, not as long as the team keeps winning.
Eyes on the prize, men.
Update: Apparently not. ESPN printed this correction this afternoon:
Thirteen weeks into the regular season, Baltimore (9-3) is tied with Houston, New England and Pittsburgh for the best record in the AFC. If all four teams win out, all would finish with the same conference record and there’s not enough common games for it to apply. The next tiebreaker is strength of victory, a category that currently favors Baltimore.
The Ravens’ strength of victory is currently .574 (62-46), which is far ahead of the Patriots (.426, 46-62) and Texans (.380, 41-67).
The Ravens’ remaining games are: home against Indianapolis, at San Diego, home against Cleveland and at Cincinnati.
If the Ravens, Patriots, Texans and Steelers go undefeated the rest of the way, this is likely how the top-five seedings would go: 1. Ravens, 2. Patriots, 3. Texans, 4. AFC West champion and 5. Steelers.
You can figure out this same scenario and other ones by punching in games into ESPN’s Playoff Machine.
Note: An original post had the Ravens controlling their own fate for the No. 1 seed. While the Ravens have huge lead in strength of victory, this doesn’t guarantee them the top spot. Apologies for the error and thanks to ESPN Stats & Information for the correct tiebreaker information.
So, they’ll still LIKELY get the #1 seed should they win out.