Originally written on Ravens Football Machine  |  Last updated 11/9/14

It seems like a no-brainer... the Ravens should easily prevail over the 0-12 Colts in Baltimore, where the 9-3 Ravens have not lost a game all season...

But here's where it gets complicated...  

The Pittsburgh Steelers, who like the Ravens are 9-3 but who trail the Ravens in the AFC North, can clinch a playoff spot Sunday. Somehow, the Ravens cannot.

According to this NFL release via the Ravens, there are three scenarios in Week 14 in which the second-place Steelers can secure a playoff spot, all of which are dependent on the Steelers beating the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night. Here are the scenarios, which all hinge on the outcomes of at least four games:

1. The Steelers win and the Cincinnati Bengals, the New York Jets and the Tennessee Titans all lose.

2.The Steelers win---- Bengals, the Titans, the Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos all lose.

3. The Steelers win and the Bengals, the Jets, the Raiders and the Broncos all lose.

If one of those scenarios played out, the Steelers, who are 7-3 in the conference, would be locked in with fewer conference losses than the AFC teams chasing them for a playoff spot. The Ravens, who are 6-2 in the conference, play their final four games against AFC teams, so theoretically they could finish with a worse AFC record than some of the five AFC teams that are 7-5 overall.

All of this mathematical madness makes beating the Colts paramount for the Ravens.

Baltimore is heavy favorite winning 87% of ESPN Accuscore simulations. Joe Flacco is averaging 232 passing yards and 1.6 TDs per simulation and Ray Rice is projected for 125 rushing yards and a 70% chance of having at least 1 rushing TD. In the 13% of simulations where Indianapolis Colts wins, Dan Orlovsky averages 1.18 TD passes vs 0.56 interceptions, while in losses he has a ratio of 0.65 TDs to 1.22 interceptions. Joseph Addai averages 30 rushing yards and 0.21 rushing TDs when Indianapolis Colts wins and 20 yards and 0.11 TDs in losses. Baltimore Ravens has a 74% chance of forcing more turnovers than they commit. Positive turnover margin helps them win 93% of the time. SPREADS / TOTALS: Current Point Spread is BAL -16.5 --- Over/Under line is 41.

Still, always the intangibles and the emotional elements. You can't sleepwalk your way through any NFL game even if you're the supreme favorite to win at home... I am assuming Harbaugh sees it & will have his guys pumped up at home. But as always when these two teams meet, there is the weird mythical rivalry between the ONCE and the FUTURE...

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