Moving one step closer to the post season, the Baltimore Ravens defense pitched a shutout against the Chicago Bears' offense, winning 31-7 and now sit firmly in the driver's seat for the Wild Card with an 8-6 record. By virtue of the Ravens competition for the Wild Card all losing this weekend, this means Baltimore now sits in the 5th seed and actually leads the Wild Card race with the Denver Broncos falling at the last minute to the Oakland Raiders The Ravens own the tie-breaker with Denver due to their 30-7 victory over the Broncos earlier this season.
With QB Joe Flacco having one of, if not the best game of his career, the Ravens only mistake all day was letting the Bears return a punt from our end zone for a TD in the first half for their only score Flacco's stats included 21 of 29 for 234 yards and four TD passes, including two to rarely used Todd Heap His QB rating for the game was a robust 1356, easily the best of his career. Compare that with Cutler's 79 B rating with three picks and that alone sets the tone for what transpired on a frigid day after a blizzard paralyzed the city and forced the Bears to arrive in Baltimore only late last night
After the game was over, the Bears probably wished they had just remained in Chicago, as they now trudge home frustrated by not only this game, but their season as a whole On the other side of the stadium, the Ravens had a bunch of help today as their playoff competition, the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, and Jacksonville Jaguars all lost this weekend. Only a last second TD pass by the Pittsburgh Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger today in their comeback victory over the Green Bay Packers prevented the Ravens from being the only team in serious playoff contention to win in week 15.
Next up for the Ravens are those same Steelers in Pittsburgh, still with playoff implications making that game a must win even more for the Steelers than for the Ravens. Baltimore can still actually make the post season if they win one of their two remaining games, either at Pittsburgh or at the Oakland Raiders If the Ravens were to do that, they would finish 9-7, and in most cases that would still get them in the playoffs, depending on what should happen with the rest of their competition However, the easiest way to ensure football in January would be to just sweep the final two games and get the #5 seed and a date with revenge on their minds at either the Cincinnati Bengals or New England Patriots. Of course there is still a chance fo rthe Ravfens to actually win the AFC North title if Cincinnati loses the rest of their games
For now, the Ravens can relish in their dominating victory over the Bears and then get right back to work gameplanning for the Pittsburgh Steelers This rivalry is one of the best in sports, as you can always bet on this being a streetfight no matter what the records are or what is on the line.