After knocking off the previously undefeated Patriots in emphatic fashion, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said that the magnitude of this individual win was for the media to discuss, but not for the players or coaches to think about. To steal the saying of the losing coach in that battle, the Ravens are quite literally “on to Cincinnati.” Baltimore needs to take the season one game at a time, but others can look ahead.
Luckily, I’m a fan with a “media” platform, so I can think and write about the importance of this win. And boy was it important. There’s no denying the significance of this victory, as Baltimore announced itself as a Super Bowl Contender over 60 minutes on national television. If Lamar Jackson somehow hadn’t yet arrived, he has now.
But where this game really sticks with me is what it means for the ultimate standings of the AFC. Really, it gave the Ravens the opportunity to steal the #1 seed from the Patriots, as they sit just one game back. But with a difficult schedule remaining in front of them, how realistic is it that the Ravens can pull this off? After all, they’ll need New England to drop at least one more, too.
Starting with the Patriots, this game suddenly introduced a ton of questions, as the Pats appear flawed. With a stretch of games against Philadelphia and Houston on the road, as well as Dallas and Kansas City in Foxborough, it may be possible for Ravens fans to anticipate one or two more losses for New England. For me, judging from the way Brady’s offense played on Sunday night, I don’t think that three losses in that stretch is beyond the realm of possibility.
To keep the worst-case scenario for the Ravens in mind in this article, let’s assume New England only loses one game the rest of the way. Obviously, that’d mean Harbaugh’s squad must win all remaining games in order to claim the top seed. With upcoming games against the Texans, Rams, 49ers and Bills, I find it hard to believe that the Ravens are going to finish 14-2. However, if Baltimore gets through the first three teams with wins, I think it might just happen.
Even still, for Baltimore to realistically finish atop the AFC, they’ll have to at least finish 13-3, losing just one remaining game. For me, that means going 3-1 in the aforementioned four games. I think this can happen, with the most likely loss being in Los Angeles.
The Ravens are riding a great wave of momentum that just might take them to a first-round bye in the playoffs for the first time since 2011, and just the third time in team history. Even better, if the team continues to exceed expectations, it could have the AFC playoffs run through M&T Bank Stadium, a dream come true for Baltimore. Because of that, this win against New England raised the stakes for the next few weeks and brought a lofty but realistic goal to shoot for.
At the same time, though, the Ravens are just “on to Cincinnati.”