Does Ravens Season Come Down To Miami?


Only six AFC teams will make the playoffs. As of now, 11 teams have records of 7-5 or above.

The Ravens are one of those 11 teams, meaning they're in the thick of it. But one more loss, especially against another wild-card contender in the same position, could potentially leave Baltimore on the outside.

So does the Ravens' season come down to what happens in Miami? Is Sunday essentially an elimination game?

"It's tough not to look at it that way," quarterback Joe Flacco told the Miami media.

But then hedged on his answer.

"We find ourselves over here saying, 'Man, that was a big game' every week," he added. "And the bottom line is they're all big games. You put yourself in position to be a playoff team at this time of the year and you have to go out there and have the mindset that you have to win it, and win it, and win it and keep it going. So, this is a big game."

The Ravens are still a contender to win the AFC North. The Bengals are 1.5 games ahead, but still have to play the Steelers twice and the AFC West-leading Broncos once. The Bengals would have to lose twice for the Ravens to overtake them, but that's certainly possible.

The Ravens are currently ahead of the Steelers and Browns even though they all have the same 7-5 record, but that could change by season's end if they all finished identically due to tiebreakers.

If Baltimore doesn't win the AFC North, there would be two wild-card spots up for grabs. As of now, the San Diego Chargers own one spot with an 8-4 record and hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Ravens because of Sunday's win.

There are six other teams jockeying for position at 7-5. Based on strength of schedule remaining, the Ravens and Dolphins are the two leading contenders in that list. If the Dolphins win this Sunday, they'll be a game up for that second spot, and another wild-card threat will hold a tiebreaker over Baltimore.

But Harbaugh said that doesn't make this Sunday's game any more important than the others remaining.

"There are so many teams in the mix right now. You just have to win," he said. "You just have to win [against] whoever you're playing no matter what the records are."

The Ravens are used to the season going down to the wire, and they expect this season to play out the same way.

They won their final two games to get into a wild-card spot in 2008. They had to win in Oakland in Week 17 to advance in 2009. They clinched in Week 16 in 2010, had to win in Cincinnati in Week 17 to take the division in 2011, and clinched the division in a Week 16 rout of the New York Giants during the Super Bowl 2012 season.

"We've still got four games; it's a long road ahead. The biggest thing is to focus on this one," Flacco said. "We have 16 meaningful games. It's awesome. That's what it's all about."

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