The Ravens were in this exact same position four years ago – playing a regular-season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers after already having the No. 1 seed and a first-round playoff bye locked up.
Lamar Jackson, en route to his first MVP, was rested, along with several other key starters.
The result? Ravens 28, Steelers 10.
Here are my thoughts entering today's game at M&T Bank Stadium, all in 50 words or less:
This is a pride game for the Ravens. The Steelers beat them earlier this season, 17-10, in a performance marred by Baltimore drops and other miscues. The Steelers have won six of the past seven meetings. The Ravens want to reverse that, even if the stakes are low.
The most agonizing moment of the game in Pittsburgh was Rashod Bateman's touchdown drop. Bateman has weathered the storm and come out the other side. With Odell Beckham Jr. out and Zay Flowers doubtful, Bateman may be back in the No. 1 saddle with a chance to make a statement.
If there's been a chink in the armor of Baltimore's defense, and it's been against the run, where the Ravens rank No. 13 in the league. The Steelers pride themselves on being more physical than their opponent and have been running the ball well lately. The Ravens won't be bullied.
Mason Rudolph hasn't thrown an interception and has been sacked just twice in his two starts. The Ravens lead the league in takeaways and sacks. Even with some key defenders out, I expect that to change for Rudolph. The Ravens have elite depth, and the scheme isn't getting a rest.
The Ravens' run defense will be tested against the Steelers' top backs.
When Tyler Huntley entered blowouts this year, he's gone 6-of-8 with two touchdowns. Not too shabby. Huntley is a pending free agent this offseason and this will be his first extensive action since last year's playoff loss in Cincinnati. Robert Griffin III beat the Steelers in 2019. Snoop's turn.
Marlon Humphrey is sidelined again, which likely means a healthy dose of Ronald Darby against a talented Pittsburgh receiving corps, including George Pickens, who has been on a roll and beat the Ravens on a long fourth-quarter TD last time. Darby has been sneaky good this year in spot duty.
You can tell from the eruption when the Pro Bowlers were announced in a team meeting that Patrick Queen's honor was special. Queen took his lumps his first couple seasons and kept plugging away, getting better. He broke out of Roquan Smith's shadow. He's a Pro Bowler on his own.
It seems the snubs sometimes get more attention than the actual Pro Bowlers, and I usually don't like going down the griping path, but Geno Stone deserved it over Minkah Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick is a great player, but Stone has had a better season and it's not particularly close.
The talk all week has been about how this year's Ravens are different from (or similar to) the 2019 Ravens that fell short in the playoffs. Ronnie Stanley said on "The Lounge" podcast that he did sense a little complacency from that 2019 team that he doesn't see now.
My nerves are growing because the Ravens have gone from a team that "could" reach the Super Bowl to one that "should" go to Vegas. I don't get the sense that the players feel that way, however. They've thought, acted like, and played like they were the best all season.