Ravens Clinch Playoff Spot, But Eyes Are on Home-Field Advantage

Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Josh Bynes (57) celebrates a tackle during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/John Munson)
Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Josh Bynes (57) celebrates a tackle during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/John Munson)

When Head Coach John Harbaugh "tried to make a big deal" of clinching a playoff berth Sunday in Buffalo, he got the equivalent of a golf clap in the Ravens' postgame locker room.

"The guys kind of gave me a smattering of applause," Harbaugh said. "They expected that. I think they've the right to expect that. It's a good thing, but we have three more games and things to accomplish still."

Yes, the Ravens are going back to the playoffs for a second straight year. Week 14 is the earliest Baltimore has ever punched its postseason ticket.

But the Ravens have their eyes on something much bigger – home-field advantage.

"It's great to lock up a playoff spot, but I think everyone in that locker room has aspirations to lock up that No. 1 seed," tight end Hayden Hurst said. "You know we want that home-field advantage. We have a couple games left to play, and we're just going to focus on those."

The Ravens' chances improved later in the evening with the Kansas City Chiefs defeating the New England Patriots, who have dropped two straight.

Baltimore (11-2) now holds a one-game lead over the Patriots (10-3), plus the tiebreaker. The Ravens sit two games ahead of the Chiefs (9-4), but the Chiefs own the head-to-head advantage.

If the Ravens win on Thursday night against the New York Jets (5-8), Baltimore will be AFC North champions. The Ravens will have a 3 ½-game lead with two games left to play on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

If Baltimore wins two of its remaining three games, it gets the No. 1 seed. If the Ravens do it the next two weeks (vs. Jets and in Cleveland), the Week 17 game against the Steelers wouldn't have any playoff implications for the Ravens, who would be locked into a long stay in Baltimore.

"I think that's the ultimate goal," cornerback Jimmy Smith said. "We've put ourselves in position to be able to attain that goal. We can't be complacent, we have to continue to improve, continue to get better and keep ascending. That's one day at a time."

"It's pretty cool but we're trying to finish out," quarterback Lamar Jackson echoed. "We have to play the Jets Thursday, quick turnaround, we have to focus on them now."

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