Ravens fans probably won't have much fun watching the AFC championship game.
Baltimore's biggest rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots, will square off* *this afternoon in Foxboro. It's basically a nightmare scenario for Ravens fans.
The Steelers ended the Ravens' playoff hopes on Christmas day with Antonio Brown's game-winning touchdown in the final seconds. And the Patriots certainly played a part in keeping the Ravens out of the postseason with their 30-23 win in Week 14.
Now Ravens fans will watch one of the rivals punch a ticket to the Super Bowl.
"I have a tough time rooting for anybody," quarterback Joe Flacco said last week during a radio interview on 98 Rock. "They're really tough games to watch, to be honest with you. I learned that the first time we got knocked out of the playoffs and had to watch the Super Bowl. You learn that very early on."
So who are you rooting for?
If you need a little help in deciding, here are some reasons to root for each team.
Why to root for the Steelers:
- The old adage of "You want to get beat by the best" applies to this situation. The Steelers knocked the Ravens out of the playoff race, so the Ravens could take a bit of solace in the fact that they lost to the best team in the conference.
- A Steelers victory is evidence of how close the Ravens were to being a true contender this year. Baltimore came within six inches of doing so again on Christmas day. If the Steelers win the conference, maybe it's a sign the Ravens aren't that far away from another deep postseason run.
- The Ravens and Steelers are similar teams. The AFC North foes are both well-run organizations that play a similar brand of football. Even though there is a serious rivalry between them, both teams have much respect for the other side.
Why to root for the Patriots:
- This is probably wishful thinking, but if the Patriots win another Super Bowl, then maybe, just maybe, quarterback Tom Brady will decide to ride off into the sunset with his five championship rings. The Ravens (and just about every other team in the league) would be just fine if they didn't have to face to future Hall of Famer any more.
- A Patriots victory would mean New England's safety Devin McCourty won't be eligible to play in the Pro Bowl, opening an invitation that Eric Weddle could accept. Weddle is a second alternate for the Pro Bowl.
- If the Steelers get to the Super Bowl and win it, then they will pass the Ravens in terms of Lombardi Trophies since the Ravens have come into existence. Right now, the Ravens and Steelers are tied with two Super Bowl victories since 1996. A Patriots victory assures it stays that way and the Ravens don't lose any ground to the Steelers.