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1-3 stretch puts John Harbaugh back on the hot seat

The Ravens and Steelers are trending in opposite directions heading into their Week 9 game as Baltimore looks to get back on track while Pittsburgh builds momentum.

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said during his end-of-season press conference that he considered firing coach John Harbaugh. Per a report from the media outlet Bisciotti partially owns, Bisciotti is considering it right now.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media offers this particularly ominous assessment of Harbaugh’s current status: “Pressure is mounting inside the organization on Harbaugh, sources say, as a playoffs-or-bust season is dangerously close to spiraling downward. While a midseason coaching change is not currently the expectation, it hasn’t been ruled out, either. A particularly disastrous defeat would send the higher-ups into the bye week with some very real questions and time to ponder their future.”

After the Ravens started 3-1, with the last win a 12-point victory in Pittsburgh, it looked like all would be well for a team that seemed to be destined for the playoffs. But it’s been 1-3 since then, with a narrow loss to the Saints followed by the Panthers basically chasing the Ravens off the field in Charlotte.

So, yes, the season is at a crossroads, especially with the Ravens currently in third place in the AFC North. But the notion that a loss to the Steelers on Sunday -- even by 12 points or worse -- could be Harbaugh’s final act in Baltimore seems like a stretch.

Regardless of whether it happens now or later, it’s hard to imagine Harbaugh, who would have a buyout through 2019, not having immediate opportunities elsewhere. The Browns, which wanted to hire his brother nearly five years ago, could make a beeline for the Harbaugh who actually won a Super Bowl.

Other teams that make a change could be inclined to consider him as well. From the (depending on how the rest of the season goes) the Jets to the Dolphins (which wanted to hire his brother eight years ago) to the Broncos to the Cowboys to the Packers to the Buccaneers to the Cardinals, any team that makes a change would be wise to at least consider hiring a guy who would then have a chance to become the first coach to win a Super Bowl with two different franchises.

While that may not make Harbaugh the right guy to return for what would be a 12th season in Baltimore, it doesn’t mean he’s not the right guy to start fresh elsewhere. Chances are that at least one other owner will decide that he is.