The Baltimore Ravens defeated the New York Jets Sunday 19-3, and quite frankly it wasn’t even that close. Just watching Geno Smith and the anemic Jets offense, you knew the way they were playing they didn’t have a chance. A loss here would have dropped the Ravens to 4-7 and probably knocked them out of the playoff race, but instead the Ravens are very much alive for the final seed in the AFC playoffs and still have an outside shot for winning the AFC North as well.
The win over the Jets now gives the Ravens another tiebreaker over one of the teams they’re competing with, the Miami Dolphins are the other. Out of all six of the 5-6 teams in the AFC, currently the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans are ahead of the Ravens right now. The Ravens will play the Steelers on Thanksgiving night at home, and that game will essentially be a playoff game for the Ravens. A win puts them at 6-6 with 10 days to prepare for NFC bottom feeder Minnesota Vikings at home and likely a 7-6 record (9-7 will probably be good enough for the No. 6 seed). A loss on Thursday would be the second loss to the Steelers this season and would drop the Ravens to 5-7 and two games behind Pittsburgh with four to play. It wouldn’t be beyond the realm of comprehension for the Ravens to win their final four games (Vikings, at Detroit Lions, New England Patriots, at Cincinnati Bengals), but they would likely have to win all four games and get a little help as well. At 6-6 the Ravens would probably be able to afford one more loss without it being a huge deal.
Now that the importance of this Thursday’s game has been laid out all the Ravens have to do now is beat their most hated rival with only four days rest. At least it’s unfair for the Steelers, too (even more so because they have to travel). Fair or not, this is the season for Ravens.
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