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Currently the No. 6 seed on the AFC side of the NFL playoff bracket with a 10-5 record, the Baltimore Ravens‘ chances of making the postseason for the third consecutive season are looking pretty good heading into Week 17 as they prepare for an AFC North battle against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Five teams, the Ravens, Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans, and Indianapolis Colts are battling for three wild-card spots, although that number is really four as either the Colts or Titans will take the No. 4 spot as the AFC South champion. Nevertheless, one of these teams will end the season on the outside looking in.

So let’s take a look at how the Baltimore Ravens can get into the NFL playoffs and how they could also miss out.

If the Baltimore Ravens beat the Cincinnati Bengals, they’re in the NFL playoffs no matter what

The formula for the Baltimore Ravens to get into the NFL playoffs is quite simple. If they beat the Bengals, who are 4-10-1, on Sunday in Cincinnati, they’re in. It’s a task that doesn’t seem all that difficult given the fact Baltimore clobbered Cincy back in Week 5, 27-3, but as they say, that’s why you play the games. You could use the “any given Sunday” phrase here as well if you prefer that one.

And it’s not as if the Bengals are just rolling over to finish the season. They beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 15 and followed it up with a win over the Houston Texans this past Sunday. So Cincinnati is coming to play.

But the Ravens can still get into the NFL playoffs with a loss.

They can still get in if they lose to Cincinnati

If the Bengals do happen to pull off the upset or the two teams tie, the Baltimore Ravens can still make the postseason. Here’s every scenario on how Baltimore gets in.

  • Baltimore beats Cincinnati
  • Pittsburgh beats Cleveland
  • Jacksonville beats Indianapolis
  • Baltimore ties Cincinnati AND Buffalo beats Miami
  • Baltimore ties Cincinnati AND Houston beats Tennessee
  • Baltimore ties Cincinnati AND Cleveland ties Pittsburgh
  • Baltimore ties Cincinnati AND Indianapolis ties Jacksonville

If the Baltimore Ravens do get into the NFL playoffs, they could be seeded as high as fifth or as low as seventh depending on how the rest of the games in Week 17 play out.

But now let’s look at the worst-case scenario for the Ravens.

How can the Baltimore Ravens miss the NFL playoffs?

Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens helmet | Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

As for how the Baltimore Ravens can miss the NFL playoffs, here’s how that becomes a reality.

First, they’d have to lose to the Bengals, which would automatically get the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans into the postseason, taking up two of the wild-card spots. So if the Ravens lose AND the Browns beat the Steelers, who will likely be resting a lot of players, AND the Colts beat the Jaguars, who are 1-14, Baltimore would head home for the season.

Easy enough, right?

Scores and schedules courtesy of


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