The Baltimore Ravens have the highest remaining strength of schedule in the NFL, and that spells disaster for the current division leader.
The Baltimore Ravens lost their hold on the top seed in the AFC playoff picture after losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers but still remain on top of the AFC North. With an 8-4 record, the team has a one-game lead over the 7-5 Bengals with a head-to-head win for the tiebreaker. They also have a 1.5-game lead on the third-place Steelers.
The AFC North is much closer than many predicted it would be at this point in the season. With five weeks left in the season and quite a few key divisional games left, any one of those teams could take the top seed.
However, with the tightness of the division, the Ravens’ mounting injury problems, and the remaining schedule, Baltimore fans have several reasons to not be optimistic.
The Baltimore Ravens will have to play perfectly to make the playoffs
The Ravens’ schedule is not going to be nice to them for the rest of the season. Every opponent they have left this season is competitive and playing much better than the Ravens right now.
The Steelers just beat the Ravens, and sure, the Week 18 rematch is going to be at Baltimore, it will likely have division title implications, something that a retiring Ben Rothlisberger will likely refuse to leave without. The likely freezing temperatures of that game will make Najee Harris that much more important, making this a very losable game for Baltimore.
The other two divisional opponents, the Browns and Bengals, may not be as consistent or experienced as the Steelers, but they are teams fully capable of beating the Ravens. The Browns get their rematch with Baltimore after a bye week, giving them a chance to overcome their injury bug. The Bengals have a great receiving corps that can dominate the injured secondary of the Ravens.
Outside of the division, the Ravens also have brutal games against the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers, two Super Bowl contenders out of the NFC. Both teams have an elite receiving group, great defenses, and a coach capable of mentally dealing with Jim Harbaugh.
The Ravens have overcome quite a few obstacles this year and proved many doubters wrong. However, here at the end of the season, those obstacles seem insurmountable.