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News » Ravens can lose and make playoffs, but want to win


Ravens can lose and make playoffs, but want to win


Ravens can lose and make playoffs, but want to win
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) - Win and they're in. Lose ... and the Baltimore Ravens might still be in.


The Ravens control their own playoff fate, although a schedule change potentially put a different spin on the significance of Sunday's game against Jacksonville.

The NFL announced Monday that the starting time of Baltimore's regular season finale against the Jaguars has been moved from 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. That means by the time the Ravens line up for the opening kickoff, they might already have sewn up the final AFC wild-card spot.

If Buffalo beats New England in a 1 o'clock game, Baltimore (10-5) will enter the postseason as the final AFC wild-card team. A loss would leave New England at 10-6, and the Ravens would win the tiebreaker because of a better conference record.

Baltimore would also have the tiebreaker edge over the loser of the Miami-New York Jets game, which will decide the AFC East title if New England falls to Buffalo.

The advantage of knowing if they've clinched before the start of the game is that the Ravens can rest some of their ailing players. Wide receiver Derrick Mason (shoulder), tackle Willie Anderson (ankle), cornerback Samari Rolle (foot) and running back Ray Rice (calf) would love an unexpected week of rest before the playoffs.

Heck, almost every player on the team could use a break, given this will be the 15th straight week Baltimore has had a game. The Ravens' bye week turned out to be on Sept. 14, when their game in Houston was postponed by a hurricane.

Coach John Harbaugh has given the team Christmas Day off, but he's asking the players to be prepared to go for 60 minutes on Sunday. Because if New England wins, Baltimore must beat Jacksonville (5-10).

The Ravens are preparing as if a victory over the Jaguars is essential to their playoff hopes.

"We're assuming we're not going to clinch, and we'll play the game as if we haven't," Harbaugh said Monday. "Now, if that changes, we can make decisions during the game. Right now, obviously the approach is we need to win the game and all hands on deck."

There's something to be said about earning a playoff berth on the field. There's also something beneficial about resting up for a playoff run.

"I don't know if we have a preference, per se. I think we want to win the game," Harbaugh said. "You look at our guys and our football team, and I don't know that we're the type of team that's going to want to go out there and not want to win - no matter what's at stake."

After playing 15 must-win games, the Ravens might find it difficult to simply watch from the sideline without caring about the outcome.

"It just so happens that we expect everything to be at stake, so we need to win the football game," Harbaugh said. "If it turns out that not as much is at stake, I'm pretty sure our guys are going to try and win the football game. That's just the personality of our football team."

The Ravens put themselves in this position by defeating the Dallas Cowboys 33-24 on Saturday.

"We've got one more game to get," linebacker Terrell Suggs said.

It won't be until late Sunday afternoon - or Sunday night - that the Ravens start talking about the postseason.

"The only thing we can think about is another 60 minute game against Jacksonville next week," linebacker Ray Lewis said. "When we finish that one, then we can think about the playoffs."



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 23, 2008

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