The AFC North Race: Steelers Over Patriots...Better Or Worse For Ravens?

Dave HudginsContributor INovember 30, 2008

With a Ravens (8-4) victory over the Bengals (who cares?) and a Steelers (9-3) victory over the Patriots (7-5), does this bring any clarity to the playoff picture for the Ravens?

The "knee-jerk" reaction to this question for any Ravens fan might be "hell no" because their infamous division rivals got another "W", keeping them still one game ahead in the AFC North.  However, on second glance this might not be so bad.  Here are the current AFC standings:

 AFC TeamDivWL
1Tennessee TitansACS111
2Pittsburgh SteelersACN93
3New York JetsACE84
4Denver BroncosACW75
5Indianapolis ColtsACS84
6Baltimore RavensACN84
7New England PatriotsACE75
8Miami DolphinsACE75

If the Patriots had won, the Ravens would be tied with the Steelers in the AFC North, however, that may or may not have worked in the Ravens favor.  Here is the current scenario:

Current Scenario Prediction

Remaining GamesTitans (11-1)PredSteelers (9-3)PredJets (8-4)Pred
WK 14BrownsWCowboysW@ 49ersW
WK 15TexansW@ RavensLBillsW
WK 16SteelersL@ TitansW@ SeahawksW
WK 17ColtsLBrownsWDolphinsW
Reg Season Rec13-312-412-4
Remaining GamesBroncos (7-5)PredColts (8-4)PredRavens (8-4)Pred
WK 14ChiefsWBengalsWRedskinsW
WK 15@ PanthersWLionsWSteelersW
WK 16BillsW@ JaguarsW@ CowboysL
WK 17@ ChargersLTitansWJaguarsW
Reg Season Rec10-612-411-5
Remaining GamesPatriots (7-5)PredDolphins (7-5)Pred
WK 14@ SeahawksW@ BillsW
WK 15@ RaidersW49ersW
WK 16CardinalsL@ ChiefsW
WK 17@ BillsW@ JetsL
Reg Season Rec10-610-6   

The above scenario leaves the same standings as it is currently.

However, if the Patriots had ended up victorious over the Steelers, then...well, you do the math?

(Con't on next pg)

In summary, if the Pat's had won vs the Steelers and the rest of the above predictions carried out then the Ravens would be in a four-way tie with the Steelers, Colts, & Patriots.  If that occurs, then the Ravens would still remain a sixth seed in the playoffs, but the Pat's loss allows the Ravens some leeway in the event they lose two of their remaining four games.

Here are the NFL tie Braking rules:

  1. Apply division tie breaker to eliminate all but the highest ranked club in each division prior to proceeding to step two. The original seeding within a division upon application of the division tie breaker remains the same for all subsequent applications of the procedure that are necessary to identify the two Wild-Card participants.
  2. Head-to-head sweep. (Applicable only if one club has defeated each of the others or if one club has lost to each of the others.)
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
  4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
  5. Strength of victory.
  6. Strength of schedule.
  7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
  8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
  9. Best net points in conference games.
  10. Best net points in all games.
  11. Best net touchdowns in all games.
  12. Coin toss

So from a Baltimore perspective, it may have been a blessing in disguise for the hated Steelers (a.k.a. squealers) to have ended up victorious over the Patriots.

Of course, nothing would make us Ravens fans happier than to see our beloved Ravens win out the AFC North division ahead of the Steelers!

...this is the NFL and as you know anything can happen "on any given Sunday"?