The Ravens have a chance to clinch a playoff spot with a win on Sunday over the Pittsburgh Steelers – and a little help from some rivals.
A loss by the Jacksonville Jaguars and either the Denver Broncos or the New York Jets gets the Ravens in with a victory.
A Baltimore win coupled with losses by the Jets, Broncos and Miami Dolphins also punched the Ravens' postseason ticket.
A more complicated scenario earns a wild card that combined a Ravens tie, Jets loss, Jacksonville loss, a loss or tie by the Tennessee Titans and a tie in the Houston/Miami game.
This Sunday, the Jaguars travel to New England (9-5), the Broncos head to Philadelphia (10-4) and the Jets are at Indianapolis (14-0).
The Ravens will focus on something much easier: winning.
"We need to win," said running back Ray Rice. "It's clear cut. You know, we win, and we control our own destiny to the playoffs. It's clear cut, we just need to go win one game at a time. We control our own destiny, and that's what we need to do from here on out."
The Ravens have simply kept their heads down and continued working throughout an up and down season. After jumping out of the gates with a three-game win streak, the Ravens did not succeed in back-to-back contests until their 48-3 beating of the Detroit Lions and last Sunday's 31-7 ousting of the Chicago Bears.
Head coach John Harbaugh admires his team's ability to keep working through the tough times.
"I think our guys approach the fact that we control our own destiny as a challenge," Harbaugh said. "It's well deserved. We have fought through a lot of adversity. We've lost some tough games that we would have liked to have won, and yet we bounced back. Our players have bounced back, and our coaches too, have bounced back the next week. They have not gotten bogged down in any disappointment with anything that's happened through the course of the season, and that's what's important in this league.
Following the Bears game, several players admitted to glancing at the scoreboards in M&T Bank Stadium briefly to monitor what other teams in the AFC were doing.
Fitting, as the three teams that entered the weekend with a 7-6 record – Jacksonville, Miami, New York – all lost.
"I knew they lost," admitted quarterback Joe Flacco with a sly smile. "I don't think it affects how we go out there and play and what we need to do as a team. We need to win games anyways. It doesn't matter, but I'm not going to lie. I saw the scores. The scores are flashing up on the scoreboard the whole game. If you are looking up at it, you're going to catch them. So, obviously, as a player and a fan, you see the scores, and what happens, happens."
It's not solely about the playoffs. The Ravens still have a shot at the AFC North title now that the Cincinnati Bengals' second consecutive loss dropped them to 9-5. A late-season Cincinnati meltdown and a Ravens surge could lock up the division, even though the Bengals defeated Baltimore two times this year.
Don't tell that to Harbaugh.
When asked about the AFC North crown during his Monday press conference, he preferred to focus on the Steelers.
"My thoughts are that winning the division is out of our control, except for the fact that we have to win all our games," said Harbaugh. "So, whether [we] make the playoffs or win the division, we have to win all our games. If that happens, we'd be very proud of that."