By Chris Schisler
The Baltimore Ravens are in a position where they need help getting into the postseason. They need to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers (though it’s Pittsburgh winning is a big deal regardless of record. Then the Ravens need to start rooting for other teams. Yes, the scoreboard watching will be a definite thing.
The Ravens need three other games to go their way. They need the Patriots to beat the Dolphins. They need to hope the Jacksonville Jaguars can shock the world with a win over the Indianapolis Colts. The Las Vegas Raiders need to beat the Los Angeles Chargers. All three are possible in different degrees. Let’s take a look at the four things the Ravens must-have for postseason play.
A Win over Pittsburgh: A coin flip
Let’s be honest, with Ravens vs. Steelers anything is possible. The Ravens lost a heartbreaker to the Steelers earlier this season. To be honest, heartbreaker may be underselling that, quick give me an adjective that’s worse than that,,,
Anyway, the Ravens could very well win this. They could very well lose. Baltimore has been in every single game down the stretch outside of their trip to the Cincinnati Bengals. Tyler Huntley beat the Chicago Bears and keeps coming close against good teams like the Green Bay Packers and the Los Angeles Rams.
There’s no reason to expect a blowout from either party. This game will go down to the wire. Truthfully, neither team is all that put together. The Ravens are hobbled to the point that elimination would almost be as merciful as it is painful. The Steelers have T.J. Watt going for a sack record and the Ben Roethlisberger tour, but they’ve been a middling 8-7-1 team.
The Steelers need the Colts to lose to the Jaguars as well. All they need is a win over the Ravens and that pesky Jaguars team to play spoiler for the Colts. Both teams need a win to make anything matter on Sunday. Expect a good game. If this game goes down to a two-point conversion attempt, I can safely say that the entire Ravens Flock is going to go crazy either way. It’s going to be a Ravens vs. Steelers game, so don’t forget your blood pressure medicine if you take it.
Jaguars vs. Colts: So you’re telling me there’s a chance?
The Jaguars actually have a track record of beating the Colts in Jacksonville. The last several trips down to Florida have gone very poorly for the Colts. That’s it. That’s about the only thing you can hang your hat on if you’re a Ravens fan. Trevor Lawrence has had a brutal rookie season with 10 touchdowns and 17 interceptions on the year. Last week, the Patriots held him to 193 yards and picked him off three times. The Colts have been red hot. They’ve spent the last three weeks beating the Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, and Raiders. This is by far the least likely outcome to go the Ravens’ way.
Patriots over the Dolphins: Oh this is so doable
The Patriots need a win because they are currently tied with the Buffalo Bills for the division lead. The Bills have the edge at the moment, but there’s plenty to play for as far as the Patriots are concerned. That division title feels better than a wild card spot which means no resting players despite already being in the dance. That’s good for Baltimore.
The Dolphins are the only team to ever lose seven straight games and then win seven straight to get back into the hunt. The Dolphins are a better team than we thought they were, and they started showing it on Thursday Night Football against the Dolphins. This will be an interesting chess match between Bill Belichick and his former assistant Brian Flores. The Dolphins just got spanked by the Tennessee Titans. The pressure is on the Dolphins because the Patriots ultimately have a wild card spot to fall back on. The momentum of the Patriots plus the advantage of Belichick wanting this one bad and being a master game planner make this very doable. If the Ravens survive the first slate of games on Sunday with a fighter’s chance, they have a very interesting evening of rooting to do. It’s okay to root for the Patriots (this once).
Raiders over the Chargers: Which Raiders team shows up? Which Chargers team shows up?
The Chargers are a different team all the time. They were able to beat the Kansas City Chiefs and crush the AFC North crowned Cincinnati Bengals and they also were able to get steamrolled by the Ravens and crushed by the Denver Broncos.
The Raiders started the season as world-beaters. They beat the Ravens and Steelers with Derek Carr being hot and their pass rush being lethal. The Raiders are also 9-7 and have lost to the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears. I seriously don’t know what to expect here, which makes this a very interesting nightcap. If the Ravens need this to get in it could happen. The last time the Chargers won 28-14 in a weird night game that was delayed due to lightning. It all depends on which teams show up. The Ravens are hoping for the Good Raiders and the Bad Chargers.
Time to see what happens.