How the Baltimore Ravens Can Clinch an AFC Wild-Card Berth in Week 18

The Baltimore Ravens have been one of the unluckiest teams during the 2021 NFL season. The injury bug hit the locker room hard, and Baltimore has struggled to recover. Despite missing several key players, the Ravens still have a slight chance to play in an AFC Wild Card Game.

It’s a long shot for John Harbaugh’s squad to reach the NFL playoffs, but stranger things have happened in this league.

The Ravens need to win and get some help

Ravens LB Patrick Queen reacts after a big play
Patrick Queen of the Baltimore Ravens recovers a fumble against the Browns and celebrates with his teammates | Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens enter the final week of the regular season with an 8-8 record. They’re currently out of the playoffs but could potentially move into one of the last two wild-card spots in Week 18.

According to CBS Sports, there’s only one way for Baltimore to sneak into the AFC Wild Card Round.

The first order of business for John Harbaugh’s crew is to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. It will be an intense matchup for several reasons outside of being a rivalry game.

Both teams are fighting for a playoff berth. A loss would effectively eliminate either team from contention. Not to mention, the season finale will likely also be Ben Roethlisberger’s last game in a Steelers uniform.

The Ravens must pull out all the stops against their hated AFC North rivals. It’s a must-win scenario. Even if Baltimore knocks off Pittsburgh, though, it would need some help to clinch a playoff spot.

The Ravens would also need the Los Angeles Chargers and Indianapolis Colts to lose and the Miami Dolphins to either lose or tie. Those teams play the Las Vegas Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, and New England Patriots, respectively.

Baltimore will look to exact revenge on the Steelers

The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers don’t like each other. It’s that simple. For the past two decades, these teams have been ripping each other’s heads off on the gridiron.

Even though the 2021 season hasn’t gone how either team would’ve imagined, it’s safe to assume that M&T Bank Stadium will be electric when they square off. Playoff spots are on the line, and neither John Harbaugh nor Mike Tomlin wants to go out on a sour note.

The Steelers got the better of the Ravens when the two played at Heinz Field in Week 13. Like most of the meetings between these teams, it was a close contest, with Pittsburgh narrowly squeaking out a 20-19 victory.

Baltimore will be looking to exact revenge against its AFC North rivals. This team started the season 8-3 but has since lost five straight games. The Ravens have so many injuries on both sides of the ball, including one to quarterback Lamar Jackson. The former MVP hasn’t played since he injured his ankle in the Week 14 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

The Steelers will certainly have momentum heading into this one after taking down the Browns in Ben Roethlisberger’s final home game.

The Ravens must dig deep and find a way to pull out the win if they want any chance of making it to an AFC wild-card matchup.

The 2021 season has been challenging for John Harbaugh and company

After revisiting how things transpired throughout the 2021 season, the Baltimore Ravens are somewhat lucky to be in a position to make the playoffs.

Football is a war of attrition, and the aforementioned injury bug tore the Ravens’ locker room apart. John Harbaugh’s squad hasn’t received too many breaks.

Baltimore was gearing up for a potential Super Bowl run in 2021, but the team suffered some major setbacks before the season even started. The Ravens’ top two running backs, J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, suffered season-ending knee injuries. Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters also tore his ACL.

Along the way, Baltimore also lost left tackle Ronnie Stanley, cornerback Marlon Humphrey, safety DeShon Elliott, and linebacker L.J. Fort.

The Ravens have escaped some tight games this season, winning four games by three points or less. On the flip side, they also haven’t been able to close out other contests. Five of Baltimore’s eight losses have been one-possession games.

It’s been an up-and-down season for John Harbaugh’s crew. Regardless of the playoff picture, this prideful team will want to finish the turbulent 2021 campaign with a win.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference

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