The Ravens at last know their first-round playoff opponent. They’ll face the Indianapolis Colts.
Baltimore’s playoff seeding was unaffected with Sunday’s 23-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. With a record of 10-6, they are still the No. 4 seed and will play host in the wild-card round on Sunday, January 6 at 1 p.m. ET (CBS).
The Colts (11-5) have a better record, but are the No. 5 seed because they didn’t win their division like the Ravens.
Indianapolis enters the playoffs hot off a 28-16 home win over their division rival Houston Texans, who entered the game as the AFC’s top seed with a 12-3 record. Indianapolis has won five of its last six games and eight of the last 10.
The Ravens, meanwhile, lost four of their final five games down the stretch. Granted, Sunday’s loss came with second- and third-string players in for the majority of the game.
“We’re looking forward to playing the Colts,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
“They’re a very good team, obviously. They’ve got a great, young quarterback [Andrew Luck]. They won today, so you can tell what they’re all about. They beat the Texans, who were the No. 1 seed going in there. So they’re a very good football team.”
The Colts got an emotional win in Head Coach Chuck Pagano’s first game back on the sidelines since being diagnosed with leukemia in September. Pagano, the Ravens’ defensive coordinator last year, will have his first reunion in Baltimore.
“The whole Chuck saga is a great story,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a great friend. I have tremendous respect for him, personally. I love his family. All of us got real close here, and he’s one of my closest personal friends in coaching. What he’s been through and the whole thing is just phenomenal.”
But now that Baltimore and Indianapolis are facing each other, the Ravens likely won’t be hyping the “Chuck Strong” mantra as they have all season while watching Pagano’s recovery from afar.
“That gets set aside,” Harbaugh said. “We’re all competitors and they’re going to be coming into our place with every intention of winning the football game. And we’re going to have to play our best football to beat them.”
Defensive tackle Art Jones shaved his beard and head in honor of Pagano. He was one of many players after the game who expressed their feelings for Pagano and his return.
“I love that guy," Jones said. "The passion that he has for the game is unbelievable, and I enjoyed the time I had with him. Now unfortunately we’re fighting for the same thing, so I’m going to be ready to play.”