Win and In
Ravens can reach postseason with win today
OWINGS MILLS — While other teams around the NFL will be checking the scores of far-away games Sunday, the Ravens and their fans won’t need to. Win and in. If Baltimore can handle business against the visiting Cincinnati Bengals in today’s Week 17 contest, the Ravens are guaranteed their first playoff berth since 2014 and New Year’s Eve celebrations around Charm City can kickoff hours before midnight.
Players acknowledged what is on the line, but many downplayed any added pressure because of the game’s significance. They’ve all been must-win games since Baltimore entered its bye week of f of a loss to the Tennessee Titans that put the Ravens record at 4-5.
“Back after we lost to the Titans, we had a seven-game season left. We told ourselves that we have to take it a week at a time, game by game,
practice by practice. So far, we’ve been 5-1,” defensive tackle Brandon Williams said. “We have one more game to wrap it up, and it’s a big game. It pretty much lets us know if we’re going to be on the couch next week or on the field. Definitely don’t want to be on the couch.”
The Ravens can still reach the postseason with a loss to Cincinnati. Baltimore will make the playoffs if Tennessee or the Buffalo Bills lose Sunday.
The Ravens have no intentions of relying on anyone but themselves.
“We’ve got blinders on. We’re focused. We’ve been playing these types of games for … this will be the seventh week now. Knowing that coming out of our bye, we had to win six of seven to get us in. We’re right there in accomplishing our goal, now we have to go do it,” safety Eric Weddle said. “This is an exciting time — not only for myself, but for this team and this organization to be back at this point. A meaningful December game to get in the playoffs is what you dream for.”
The Bengals and Ravens met in Week 17 a year ago under different circumstances. The game was meaningless as both teams had already been eliminated from playoff contention.
“It is a lot easier to be in a situation where you know if you win you are in [the playoffs] as opposed to having to win and have a couple of things happen,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “When you talk about, ‘Does it feel like a playoff game or not?’ I don’t know. It is tough to say what that actually feels like. No, we are not in the tournament yet. But there is definitely a lot going into this one and obviously a lot riding on it.”
Flacco said he is unsure if the Bengals’ mindset entering the game will be to spoil Baltimore’s season or not. Either way, he called Cincinnati a tough and physical team that always plays hard.
It could be the last game for Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, the first defensive coordinator in Ravens’ franchise histor y, who is rumored to be out following the season after 15 years as head coach.
Baltimore crushed the Bengals, 20-0, Week 1 in Cincinnati. The Ravens defense forced five turnovers that day while recording their first of three shutouts on the season. But the Bengals have beaten Baltimore in six of the last eight meetings between the teams.
Of 32 NFL teams, 17 are eliminated from playoff contention. Three more will have their hopes crushed today.
The Ravens are in a spot a majority of teams in the league envy, but it’s not where they saw themselves in the preseason.
“We would have liked to be in four games ago. But it’s the NFL, and it doesn’t always pan out like that,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “We have the opportunity to get in. A lot of teams don’t have a chance to get in. Some other teams need a miracle — a football miracle to get in. We sit in a very fortunate position. If you win a home game, you’re in.”
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) celebrates tight end Maxx Williams’ touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against Indianapolis Colts in Baltimore on Saturday, Dec 23.