Fifth Straight Loss Leaves Ravens’ Playoff Hopes ‘On Life Support’

Ravens John Harbaugh

Getty Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh looks on during a January 2 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

The Baltimore Ravens lost their fifth straight game on January 2, falling to the Los Angeles Rams by a score of 20-19 despite two first-half interceptions from veteran safety Chuck Clark.

The loss dropped the Ravens to 11th place in the AFC, leaving them on the outside of a playoff picture in which they held the No. 1 seed entering Week 13.

It’s the first time in head coach John Harbaugh’s 14-year tenure in Baltimore that the Ravens have lost five straight games, leaving their playoff hopes “on life support,” according to Jonas Shaffer of The Baltimore Sun. 

Leading prediction machines put the Ravens’ playoff chances in the low single-digits, though the Pittsburgh Steelers’ victory over the Cleveland Browns on January 3 offered a marginal boost.

ESPN’s Football Power Index gives Baltimore a 3.6% chance of making the playoffs entering Week 18, while they have just a 3% chance from The New York Times and a 2% chance from FiveThirtyEight.

That means the Ravens will likely miss the postseason for the first time in the Lamar Jackson era, with the superstar quarterback sidelined for the team’s last three games.

Harbaugh did tell media on January 3 that Jackson has been “pushing to try to come back and play in practice,” adding that “there is a chance that he’ll play on Sunday.”


How Can the Ravens Make the Playoffs?

The Ravens have exactly one path to the playoffs, starting with a victory over the Steelers in Baltimore in Week 18. That will double their chances, but they’ll need plenty of help from there, including a Los Angeles Chargers loss and a tie or loss by the Miami Dolphins, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

But while the Chargers losing to the Las Vegas Raiders and the Dolphins being unable to beat the New England Patriots both seem possible, the final leg of the Ravens’ playoff gauntlet might be the toughest: a Jacksonville Jaguars win over the Indianapolis Colts.

The Colts are in control of their own playoff destiny, needing only a win over the Jaguars to secure a postseason berth.

But one Ravens fan did note that the Colts have lost in their last six visits to Jacksonville, where the Week 18 matchup is set to take place.

Still, the 2-14 Jaguars are considered to be massive underdogs against the Colts, who fell just short of a fourth straight win on January 2.

Harbaugh acknowledged that the Ravens will “need to root for” some other teams in Week 18, but emphasized that, “nothing matters if we don’t win.”

“That’s really the focus every week,” he continued, “and that’s what we’re going to focus on.”


Week 18 Impact on Draft Position

The Ravens’ Week 18 matchup could also have a massive position on their spot in the 2022 NFL Draft, in which Baltimore currently holds eight picks, seven of which are in the first four rounds, per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.

The Ravens are also expected to pick up two compensatory picks for departed free agents Yannick Ngakoue and Matt Judon, both of which are expected to be in the fourth round as well.

Judon’s massive contract from the Patriots and stellar play this season could even upgrade his compensatory pick to a third-rounder, giving the Ravens’ one pick in each of the draft’s first two rounds and three in the third.

The Ravens currently sit at the 16th pick in the draft, their lowest spot since 2017, when they selected All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey. A loss to the Steelers could move them up by a few spots, which could help the Ravens land one of the coveted targets at a position of need.

After signing tight end Mark Andrews and offensive lineman Patrick Mekari to extensions this season, and with a hefty contract for Jackson expected in the near future, the Ravens will need inexpensive contributors in future seasons.

Baltimore’s stockpiling of draft picks will help them accumulate young, high-potential talent on rookie contracts as they shoot for the third Super Bowl in franchise history.


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