Baltimore Ravens fans are shocked and angry after the frustrating 23-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but should not take this as such a huge defeat.
Even though I am as hard on this team as anyone, the Ravens last second loss is just one game in the 16-game season, and may not be nearly as devastating as so many might want to think. Sure, the way they lost and what quarterback they lost to should be upsetting, but the game is over and there is a lot to be looking forward to in a positive light.
Baltimore now has a 9-3 record, tied for the second best in the AFC and still two games better than anyone in the AFC North. They currently hold the tie-breaker against the also 9-3 New England Patriots in the race for the #2 playoff seed and an all-important first round playoff bye. However, the Patriots better division and conference record give them them the #2 seed at this moment.
They are also tied with the 9-3 Denver Broncos and have a date with them at M&T Bank Stadium in two weeks in what will most likely have a huge impact, if not decide that #2 seed. The Patriots host the 11-1 Houston Texans, who appear to have the #1 seed locked up, as they beat the Ravens earlier in the season and thus own that tie-breaker along with their two-game lead in the hunt for the top seed.
The Indianapolis Colts (8-4) lead the race for the Wild Card, followed by the Steelers (7-5), just ahead of the Cincinnati Bengals. In fact, if the season ended today, Pittsburgh would come back to Baltimore for the first Wild Card playoff game, a match-up that would matter a lot more than today's game.
Even though most Ravens fans would like to see the Patriots defeat the Texans next week, the chances of the Ravens catching and passing Houston in the standings to claim the #1 playoff seed are slim. Therefore, a Texans win would put the Ravens firmly in charge of their playoff chances to earn the #2 overall seed.
This makes the December 16th game with the Broncos easily the most important of the season, certainly much more critical than yesterday's, although bragging rights in the rivalry are always valuable in the trash talking between the two team's fans.