NFL playoff picture: Clinching scenarios for Ravens to earn No. 1 seed, home-field advantage

Sporting News

Naturally, the best team in the NFL has the first chance of the season to clinch a No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The only reason the 12-2 Ravens had to wait until Week 16 for such a clinching scenario is the fact that the 12-3 Patriots remain just a game behind in the NFL playoff picture.

Baltimore being able to secure the top seed in the AFC is one of many NFL playoff clinching scenarios for Week 16, but it's arguably the most significant. The Ravens have only one home loss this season, a fluke of a defeat at the hands of the division-rival Browns. In the playoffs, Lamar Jackson will be difficult enough for potential opponents like the Patriots and Chiefs to contain; he'll be even more of a pain at M&T Bank Stadium in January.

MORE: Week 16 NFL playoff clinching scenarios

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Below are the two clinching scenarios this week in front of Baltimore, which already has clinched the AFC North title.

How Ravens clinch a first-round bye:

  1. Ravens win or tie OR

  2. Chiefs loss or tie OR

  3. Patriots loss

How Ravens clinch No. 1 seed, home-field advantage:

  1. Ravens win OR

  2. Ravens tie AND Patriots loss or tie OR

  3. Chiefs loss or tie AND Patriots loss

The most likely scenario for the Ravens in Week 16 is one that would clinch them both a first-round bye and the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs — a simple win over the division-rival Browns.

Baltimore, which lost to Cleveland earlier this season and provided one of the most confusing game results of the 2019 season, is a 10-point road favorite in the rematch. In both our Week 16 picks against the spread and our Week 16 picks straight up, Sporting News projected a Ravens victory that would earn them the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

MORE: How Steelers can earn a wild card

The last time Baltimore earned a first-round bye in the playoffs, in 2011, it beat Houston in the divisional round before losing the AFC championship game on the road in New England. The next season, of course, the Ravens won their wild-card home game against the Colts before reeling off two road victories, the second of which avenged their title-game loss to the Pats, en route to their Super Bowl victory over the 49ers.

Below is the full playoff picture for Week 16.

NFL playoff picture

  • AFC

Seed

Team

Record

Clinched

1.

Baltimore Ravens

12-2

Division; playoff berth

2.

New England Patriots

12-3

Division; playoff berth

3.

Kansas City Chiefs

10-4

Division; playoff berth

4.

Houston Texans

10-5

Division; playoff berth

5.

Buffalo Bills

10-5

Playoff berth

6.

Pittsburgh Steelers

8-6

-

In the hunt: Titans (8-6), Browns (6-8), Raiders (6-8)

  • NFC

Seed

Team

Record

Clinched

1.

Seattle Seahawks

11-3

Playoff berth

2.

Green Bay Packers

11-3

Playoff berth

3.

New Orleans Saints

11-3

Division; playoff berth

4.

Dallas Cowboys

7-7

-

5.

San Francisco 49ers

11-3

Playoff berth

6.

Minnesota Vikings

10-4

-

In the hunt: Rams (8-6), Eagles (7-7)

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