So…today is a pretty big day. And I’m not even talking about the fact that it’s Christmas, which, obviously, is a pretty big day for most people in this country, and for many all around the world. But it’s a huge day for the NFL, and for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens in particular.
While the Steelers have a much clearer path, essentially, the AFC North is on the line, with the victor overwhelmingly likely to come out of the came as the division winner. If the Steelers win, they will guarantee that they will finish with the best record in the division. If the Ravens win, on the other hand, they would still need to beat the Bengals in Week 17, or hope the Steelers lose to the Browns.
Should the Ravens beat the Steelers, yet lose in Cincinnati in the final game of the season, then Pittsburgh would still win the division provided that they beat the Browns team, as they will end the season with a 10-6 record to the Ravens’ 9-7.
That would certainly be pretty convenient to be able to lose to your chief rival twice in the same season and still manage to beat them where it matters most—in the win-loss column, the primary decider of who wins the division race.
The point is, I suppose, that no matter the outcome in today’s game, the Steelers’ season is most certainly not over. While they can clinch the division in Pittsburgh today, the Ravens can clinch it for them next week in Cincinnati.
The Bengalshave been playing better in recent weeks—even after last week’s loss to the Steelers—than they were previously. And, as I have written about last week, the Ravens have simply not been a good road team this year.
As a reminder of that point, the Ravens have played six away games so far this year, as they finish up their season with two games on the road, in Pittsburgh, obviously, and then in Cincinnati. They have only won two of those games, in the second and third games of the season, against the Browns and the Jaguars, two of the worst teams in the league. And, frankly, they almost lost both of those games.
They also lost four games, understandably, with two of them coming to the Patriots in Foxboro and the Cowboys in Dallas. The Steelers lost to both of those teams on the road, though they almost beat one, and were playing with a backup quarterback against the other.
Even if the Steelers lose today—which I do not expect them to, by any means, for the record—it should certainly not be taken as a given that they will go into Cincinnati and win. The Bengals beat them twice last year, and in both games in 2014, as well. They lost five straight games to Cincinnati prior to their win earlier this year going back to 2013. Something to keep in the back of your mind for now—perhaps, in case you need it to continue enjoying your holiday later tonight. Or just if you want to see the Ravens finish the season at .500.