If the Baltimore Ravens win today and so do the rest of the playoff teams, they will host the Indianapolis Colts at M&T Bank Stadium either next Saturday or Sunday. If the Ravens lose, then they will do the same thing, so does it really matter?
Of course it does, as there are so many intangibles and other possibilities that there is only one thing to do and that is put out your best effort to go into the playoffs with confidence and consistency. If the Ravens win and the New England Patriots lose, then Baltimore becomes the #3 seed and would host the Bengals again next week at home.
Odds are that if you beat the same team twice in a season, you're probably gong to beat them a third time, especially in your own backyard. The Ravens saw that happen with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2008.
In other games, the Patriots are still in the mix with the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos for the top three seeds in the AFC. Currently, the Texans hold the #1 slot and a win at Indianapolis would seal that deal. However, if they lose and both the Broncos and Patriots win, then Denver would get the #1 overall seed and New England would move up to #2, dropping Houston to the 3rd seed.
If the Pats win and both the Texans and Broncos lose, then New England would leapfrog both by virtue of their wins over both to the #1 seed. Therefore, once the Ravens dispatch either the Colts or Bengals here in Baltimore in the first round of the playoffs, where would they be better off headed for the Divisional Round?
The Ravens beat the Patriots on a last-second field goal, but in Baltimore and earlier in the season. Both Houston and Denver blew out the Ravens, embarrassing them both times. Right now, it appears that the Broncos are the hottest team in the NFL and Peyton Manning has always enjoyed success against the Ravens, regardless of what uniform he is wearing. Therefore, it's obvious that they are the team to avoid.
The Texans may be the current #1 seed and have already beaten Baltimore in Houston, but as of late have played relatively average football at best. Home losses to the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings just last week, as well as a crushing defeat in New England, make them a suspect team and one that the Ravens should not fear. If current seeding stays true, Baltimore will go there in the second round of the playoffs and that should be just fine.
Then of course, there's another re-match with the Pats in Foxborough, where Baltimore came up a bit short last January, just in case there are Ravens fans out there that either don't remember or have erased that nightmare from their memory. The revenge factor remains far beyond the Ravens 31-30 victory in week three of the regular season and their confidence would be high that they can finish the job this time if the situation warrants it.
The only way that happens is if both Houston and Denver lose, which is highly doubtful as the Broncos host the 2-13 Kansas City Chiefs today in a game that has Denver more than a two touchdown favorite in wagering circles.
The only other fantasy option is for the Bengals to sweep their way on the road to the AFC Championship Game while the Ravens win their first two to host Cincy here in Baltimore for the right to play fo the Lombardi Trophy in New Orleans, but, yeah,...that ain't happening.
Therefore, Ravens fans should root for a victory and the #4 seed, a trip to Houston after beating the Colts in the Wild Card round and then let the Pats take care of business in the Wild Card round hosting the Bengals, and then go to Denver and beat Peyton and his Broncos. That would set up an AFC Championship Game re-match in New England between the Patriots and Ravens.
Yup, that's the ticket. Book it, bet it and pray for it.