All last week, the Ravens had to block their upcoming battle with the Pittsburgh Steelers from their minds and focus on the Philadelphia Eagles.
It took a scary turn, but the Ravens succeeded in beating the Philadelphia Eagles.
Now the Ravens can officially turn their attention to the Steelers, and they were more than excited to do so immediately following Sunday’s win at M&T Bank Stadium.
On Christmas day, the Ravens and Steelers will battle for first place in the AFC North. The final result could immediately decide the division.
“It’s kind of looked this way for a while, and obviously we had to take care of business and do our thing,” quarterback Joe Flacco said.
“I’m sure it’s what everybody wants, and we’re up for the challenge. It’s going to be a fun day, going in there on Christmas, into Pittsburgh, into that environment. It’ll be a pretty cool place to go.”
Had the Cincinnati Bengals held off the Steelers on Sunday, the Ravens would have had a chance to clinch the AFC North crown with a win in Pittsburgh on Christmas day.
If the Ravens win, they still may also need to win in Cincinnati in Week 17 to finish with the same record as the Steelers and take the division with the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Steelers have the winless Cleveland Browns on the schedule in Week 17.
The Steelers (9-5), however, can clinch the AFC North division if they knock off the Ravens. It would push Baltimore (8-6) two games behind.
The once-struggling AFC North has seen the Ravens and Steelers emerge, as both teams have jockeyed for playoff position during strong November and Decembers. The Ravens have won five of their last seven games after a four-game losing skid. The Steelers have won five straight after dropping four in a row.
“Well, we put ourselves in a great scenario – they did too,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said.
“We know what they’re going to do. They know what we’re going to do. Obviously, they’re going to scheme up some stuff, and we’re going to do the same. But at the end of the day, it’s Pittsburgh versus the Ravens, so we know it’s going to be four quarters.”
The majority of the NFL’s Week 16 games will be played on Saturday. The Ravens-Steelers matchup at 4:30 p.m. is one of just two games slated for Christmas day – making it essentially a primetime broadcast.
“This is what you live for,” safety Eric Weddle said. “It’s all the hours, all the sacrifice, all the time, it’s for a chance to win the division and get into the dance. You hope and dream every day you’re getting up at 6 a.m. or 5 a.m., you don’t see your kids – it’s for this chance, and it’s all worth it.
“We’ll be ready to roll. Nothing more out there for us than to have a chance at the division against a rival team. It’s going to be amazing.”