Let’s check the pulse on the AFC Playoff Picture and AFC Wild Card standings after the Baltimore Ravens escaped Sunday Night Football with a win over Cincinnati.
It seems impossible for the Baltimore Ravens to play a normal game.
Going back to last year, when John Harbaugh was working with a duct-taped together roster and still barely missing the playoffs to this Sunday Night when he almost galaxy-brained his way into another consecutive home loss, the Ravens brand of football is utter chaos.
Last week Harbaugh was ripped for not opting for a field goal in a tie game and instead trying to go for a potential kill shot. Lamar Jackson threw an interception in the endzone and the Ravens watched helplessly as the Bills marched down the field, drained the clock, and kicked a game-winning field goal.
Harbaugh was in almost an identical spot on Sunday night. Up by only three points, he elected to kick a field goal from inside the Bengals 10-yard line rather than go for the kill shot. The analytics behind the move suggested that if Cincinnati scored a touchdown, the Ravens would only need a field goal to win rather than a touchdown (had Jackson repeated his failure from Week 4).
It was close but the analytical approach came through and the game came down to the ever-reliable leg of Justin Tucker. Harbaugh was vindicated with the win, and the Ravens both ended a home losing streak and catapulted themselves into the AFC Playoff picture as a result.
Note: This will be updated after the Week 5 slate concludes on Monday night with Chiefs vs. Raiders.
Updated AFC Playoff Picture after Week 5
With a win on Sunday night, the Ravens moved into the NFL Playoff Picture as leaders of the AFC North. If the game was any indication, however, it’s not going to be an easy title to hold throughout the season.
The good news for Baltimore is that only Cincinnati seems to be a serious challenger. Cleveland is hanging around at 2-3, having not stayed out of their own way long enough to be sitting at 4-1 with victories over the Jets and Chargers snatched from the jaws of defeat.
- Buffalo Bills (4-1)
- Kansas City Chiefs (4-1)
- Tennessee Titans (3-2)
- Baltimore Ravens (3-2)
- New York Jets (3-2)
- Miami Dolphins (3-2)
- Los Angeles Chargers (3-2)
Based on those standings, here’s what the playoff matchups would look like for the first weekend of action:
(2) Kansas City Chiefs vs. (7) Los Angeles Chargers
(3) Tennessee Titans vs. (6) Miami Dolphins
(4) Baltimore Ravens vs. (5) New York Jets
Regardless of what happened on Sunday night, the AFC belongs to the Buffalo Bills who have shown no signs of slowing down anytime soon. If Isaiah McKenzie gets out of bounds in Week 3 against the Dolphins, there’s a very decent chance that Buffalo sits with a two-game lead over the Chiefs rather than the single-game lead that exists now.
AFC Wild Card standings after Week 5
There was a ton of movement in the AFC Wild Card standings thanks to the Ravens comeback win over the Bengals on Sunday Night. With Baltimore catapulting up to the No. 4 seed, Cincinnati fell hard all the way to near the bottom of where things stand.
Cincinnati is now 13th in the AFC and sits behind the Colts, Jaguars, Broncos (somehow), Patriots, and Browns.
Obviously, there’s plenty of time for the Bengals to turn things around and they were this close to walking out of M&T Bank Stadium with a huge divisional win. Mike Tirico said it on the NBC broadcast, there’s a decent chance these two teams meet in Week 18 with the AFC North title on the line.
For now, here’s what the Wild Card standings look like after Week 5:
5th Seed: New York Jets (3-2)
6th Seed: Miami Dolphins (3-2)
7th Seed: Los Angeles Chargers (3-2)
On The Bubble
8. Indianapolis Colts (2-2-1)
9. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3)
10. Denver Broncos (2-3)
11. New England Patriots (2-3)
12. Cleveland Browns (2-3)
13. Cincinnati Bengals (2-3)
In The Hunt
14. Houston Texans (1-3-1)
15. Las Vegas Raiders (1-4)
16. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4)
There’s still one more game on the books that could move these standings around a little. For that to happen, the Las Vegas Raiders would have to shock the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football. Such a thing would merely help the Raiders move into 2-3 territory as the Chiefs would still control the AFC West by way of a partial tiebreaker over the Chargers thanks to their Week 2 win.
AFC Playoff Picture Tiebreaker Scenarios
With so many teams tied in the standings, a handful of tiebreakers come into play based on various factors related to the schedule.
- Titans hold the tiebreaker over Ravens based on best win percentage in conference games.
- Jets hold tiebreaker Chargers based on strength of victory. Division tie break was initially used to eliminate Dolphins (NY Jets wins tie break over Miami based on head-to-head win percentage).
- Dolphins hold tiebreaker over Chargers based on strength of victory.
- Jaguars hold tiebreaker over Browns, Broncos, and Patriots based on best win percentage in conference games. Division tiebreaker was initially used to eliminate Bengals (Cleveland
wins tie break over Cincinnati based on best win percentage in division games).
- Broncos hold tiebreaker over Browns and Patriots based on strength of victory. Division tiebreak was initially used to eliminate Cincinnati.
- Patriots hold tiebreaker over Browns based on strength of schedule.
- Browns win tiebreaker over Bengals based on best win percentage in division games.