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  1. #1
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    Arrow AFC Team Rankings for Week 12



    INTRODUCTION:

    The top six rankings are CURRENT projected playoff seeds. Below the rankings, after comments, you will find my assessment of what needs to happen for the Baltimore Ravens to clinch a playoff berth.

    1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-1)
    2. New England Patriots (7-3)
    3. Indianapolis Irsays (7-3)
    4. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)
    5. Denver Broncos (9-1)
    6. Baltimore Ravens (4-6)
    -----------------------------------------------------
    7. San Diego Chargers (4-6)
    8. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-6)
    9. Miami Dolphins (5-5)
    10. New York Jets (5-5)
    11. Tennessee Titans (4-6)
    12. Cleveland Browns (4-6)
    13. Oakland Raiders (4-6)
    14. Buffalo Bills (4-7)
    15. Houston Texans (2-8)
    16. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9)

    Kansas City and Denver each have two remaining games against legitimate playoff contenders. The Chiefs face theirs at home; Broncos face theirs on the road. That is why I seeded the Chiefs at Number 1.

    Based on what transpired in Cleveland, the Ravens’ bye week did not produce the dramatic improvement needed in how this team (players AND coaches) executes. But in their last two games against the Bengals and Bears, the following checklist (from my last set of rankings) has been addressed AND accomplished - more or less (in order of importance):

    (a) Rectify the offensive blocking problem (run schemes, pass protection) and/or replace Gradkowski at center.
    (b) ‘Open up the playbook’ (eliminate the offensive predictability; keep opposing defenses off-balanced on first and second downs).
    (c) Avoid the desperate decisions/unnecessary risks (e.g., onsides-kick in Pittsburgh in a one-possession game with plenty of time left) which sends the wrong message to your own players (e.g., lack of confidence in your defense).
    (d) End the sloppy performances on special teams (two blocked punts; punts into endzone; poor kickoff coverage).

    I still have no real problem with the defense overall; they surrendered only one TD in Chicago.

    The next three home games (Jets, Steelers, Vikings) are a golden - and final - opportunity for the Ravens to reestablish themselves as a legitimate playoff contender. Right now, there are only five such teams in the AFC - and you already know who they are. I am projecting the Ravens as the sixth seed for two reasons:

    (1) They have a schedule advantage over three of the remaining contenders (own head-to-head tiebreaker over Miami with the opportunity to gain the same over the Jets at home; opportunity to move ahead of the Steelers at home as well);
    (2) The homestand is an opportunity to rectify their remaining, correctable problems (see below) before attempting to end their losing streak on the road in Detroit.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Simplest formula for Ravens to capture a playoff seed:

    1. Win their next three games (Jets, Steelers, Vikings).
    2. Win at least two of their final three games (@ Lions, Patriots, @ Bengals).

    Following the formula will guarantee them finishing at least 9-7 which should be enough to make it in. Of course, the second step is far more difficult. Futhermore – and this could be critical to their chances of repeating as Super Bowl champs – they may need to clinch a playoff berth BEFORE their final regular season game in Cincinnati. It would afford them the opportunity to rest their regulars in Cincy in Week 17. Last season, that opportunity was crucial for a team desperate for a makeshift, postseason bye (needed to recover from multiple injuries to key defensive players).

    The next three games at home are critical – not just to win – but to demonstrate to themselves that they can rectify their remaining three problems:

    (1) Flacco finds the ‘switch to the turnover machine and shuts it down’.
    (2) Keeping all mistakes to a minimum - on the field, on the sidelines.
    (3) Receivers getting open more frequently on crucial downs.

    Idealistic, Best-Case Scenario: Win next five games (Jets, Steelers, Vikings, @ Lions, Patriots) while Bengals lose next three (@ Chargers, Indy, @ Steelers) => clinch division title by Week 16 (based on tiebreaker too soon to identify) => rest starters in Cincy in Week 17.

    Realistic, Best-Case Scenario: Win next three games (Jets, Steelers, Vikings) while resting key starters; Bengals lose two of next three (@ Chargers, Indy, @ Steelers) => split next two (@ Lions, Patriots) while Bengals defeat Vikings => clinch division title in Cincy in Week 17 (both teams finish 9-7; Ravens win head-to-head tiebreaker).
    ----------------------------------------------------

    CC




  2. #2
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    Re: AFC Team Rankings for Week 12

    Another good breakup of what the Ravens need to do to make it in.
    "I got this." - Justin Tucker




  3. #3
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    Re: AFC Team Rankings for Week 12

    Quote Originally Posted by Dade View Post
    Another good breakup of what the Ravens need to do to make it in.
    Thanks.




  4. #4
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    Re: AFC Team Rankings for Week 12

    I'm not following why you have the Ravens in the top six and Jets and Dolphins lower.

    These are the current AFC standings:

    AFC
    Division Leaders W L T DIV CONF
    Broncos 9 1 0 3-0 5-1
    Colts 7 3 0 3-0 5-2
    Patriots 7 3 0 3-1 4-2
    Bengals 7 4 0 2-2 5-3
    Wild Card W L T DIV CONF
    Chiefs 9 1 0 1-1 6-1
    Jets 5 5 0 2-2 2-5
    In The Hunt W L T DIV CONF
    Dolphins 5 5 0 0-2 4-3
    Raiders 4 6 0 1-2 4-3
    Titans 4 6 0 0-3 3-4
    Steelers 4 6 0 1-1 3-4
    Ravens 4 6 0 2-2 4-4
    Browns 4 6 0 2-2 3-4
    Chargers 4 6 0 0-2 2-5
    Bills 4 7 0 2-2 3-6
    Texans 2 8 0 1-1 2-4
    Jaguars 1 9 0 1-1 1-5
    World Domination 3 Points at a Time!




  5. #5
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    Re: AFC Team Rankings for Week 12

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravenswintitle View Post
    I'm not following why you have the Ravens in the top six and Jets and Dolphins lower.

    These are the current AFC standings:

    AFC
    Division Leaders W L T DIV CONF
    Broncos 9 1 0 3-0 5-1
    Colts 7 3 0 3-0 5-2
    Patriots 7 3 0 3-1 4-2
    Bengals 7 4 0 2-2 5-3
    Wild Card W L T DIV CONF
    Chiefs 9 1 0 1-1 6-1
    Jets 5 5 0 2-2 2-5
    In The Hunt W L T DIV CONF
    Dolphins 5 5 0 0-2 4-3
    Raiders 4 6 0 1-2 4-3
    Titans 4 6 0 0-3 3-4
    Steelers 4 6 0 1-1 3-4
    Ravens 4 6 0 2-2 4-4
    Browns 4 6 0 2-2 3-4
    Chargers 4 6 0 0-2 2-5
    Bills 4 7 0 2-2 3-6
    Texans 2 8 0 1-1 2-4
    Jaguars 1 9 0 1-1 1-5
    Well, current standings don't equal (my) current projections . I take into account current win-loss records, remaining schedules and guess at the upcoming results. In 4 of his first 5 seasons, Harbaugh's teams were significantly better at the end of the season than they were at the beginning. (Notable exception was 2009 - which is why I hated that season.)

    You prefer rankings which correspond closely with the standings. That's OK. At NFL.com, ESPN, etc., you get those politically-correct rankings that please the multitude of fans who demand respect from the rankers. My rankings don't pretend that the playoffs begin tomorrow. Instead, I make projections for January. I update them, but they are still projections.




  6. #6
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    Re: AFC Team Rankings for Week 12

    To be more specific, I ranked the Ravens as a sixth seed because that is where I expect them to finish (at 9-7). Despite their current better records, I ranked the Jets and Dolphins lower because I expect the Ravens to own head-to-head tiebreakers over both teams AND I do not see either team finishing higher than 9-7. In fact, after Denver, New England, KC, Indy and Cincy, no other AFC team will finish higher than 9-7, if that high. San Diego (has a history of playing well in December) and Pittsburgh (still dangerous) are ranked higher than Miami and Jets because the Ravens don't own head-to-head tiebreakers over them. My rankings are Ravens-oriented since they are the only AFC team I know well.




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