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Decision to flex Steelers-Ravens instead of Dolphins-Patriots suddenly looks even better

Chris Simms and Ahmed Fareed break down the Saints' win over the Browns and the Broncos' outlook after getting demolished by the Rams.

The NFL had a decision to make regarding the Week 17 prime-time game. The league knew that Rams-Chargers had to exit prime-time on NBC. The question what which game to replace it with?

Eyebrows were raised when the league decided to flex Steelers-Ravens. However, per a source with knowledge of the situation, CBS had protected Vikings-Packers -- and Fox had protected Panthers-Buccaneers. That basically made the options Steelers-Ravens and Dolphins-Patriots.

While Dolphins-Patriots is an elimination game, both teams have struggled in recent weeks. The Dolphins, after an 8-3 start, have lost four in a row. The Patriots have lost four of five. And the prime-time crowd in Boston on New Year’s Day may not have been impressive, to say the least.

Steelers-Ravens is a rivalry that always brings excitement and intensity. The Steelers are trying to pull another late-season inside straight to the postseason -- and to avoid the first ever losing season in coach Mike Tomlin’s time with the team. The Ravens are trying to stay within a game of the Bengals, setting up what would be a division-title game in Week 18 in Cincinnati. The stadium should be a-rockin’. Which helped convince the NFL to go a-knockin’.

The placement of Tua Tagovailoa in the concussion protocol makes the decision seem even more prudent, in hindsight. With or without Lamar Jackson (he has a good chance to play, returning from a knee injury), the Ravens will play the Steelers tough. Both of those teams always do.