OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Now that the Ravens have clinched a playoff berth, they’re focused on ensuring they don’t have to leave the state of Maryland in January.
Should the Ravens beat the Jets on Thursday night, they’ll win the AFC North for the second straight season. Additionally, they can clinch the division even with a loss, should the Steelers lose to the Bills on Sunday Night Football.
Baltimore can also clinch a first-round bye in the playoffs with a victory over the Jets and either a Patriots loss or a Chiefs loss.
While that seems promising with three games left to play, the Patriots are headed to play the 1-12 Bengals while the Chiefs are hosting the Broncos. Both games are at 1 p.m., so it's likely the Ravens will have to wait another week to clinch a first-round bye.
And should the Ravens hit the lottery and both the Patriots and Chiefs are upset, the Ravens will clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over the Jets.
With the injuries they’re expected to deal with on Thursday against the Jets, any chance to rest starters and veterans would be a welcome one for the Ravens. Especially considering past Super Bowl teams and how they reached the final game.
Since the Ravens' victory over the 49ers in the 2013 Super Bowl, five out of the last six champions were their conference’s No. 1 seed.
Over the season, the Ravens have shown they’re up to the task of facing playoff-bound teams, too. As of the end of Week 14, they’ve already played the other five teams currently slotted to make the AFC Playoffs. They’ve gone 4-1 in those games — the lone blemish a 33-28 loss to the Chiefs in Week 3 — and have outscored those opponents 156-100.
So if the Ravens beat the Jets on Thursday, they’ll certainly be scoreboard watching on Sunday afternoon.
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