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News » Ravens' playoff plan: expect no help, beat Jaguars

Ravens' playoff plan: expect no help, beat Jaguars

Ravens' playoff plan: expect no help, beat Jaguars
BALTIMORE (AP) - If John Harbaugh believed in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, perhaps he could accept the possibility of the Baltimore Ravens having a playoff berth wrapped up by the time they run onto the field late Sunday afternoon against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Ravens (10-5) will earn a wild-card spot in the AFC if Buffalo beats New England earlier Sunday. If New England wins, then Baltimore must defeat the Jaguars (5-10) to reach the postseason.

Harbaugh isn't the type of person who expects magical gifts to drop in his lap.

"New England is going to win a football game. We know that. Everybody knows that," Baltimore's rookie coach said. "So we're going to have to win our football game. That's what we need to take care of, and we don't need anybody else to get us in the playoffs. That's our job to take care of that."

If he was a betting man, Harbaugh would put the house on New England.

"The lock of the week," he said. "Book it."

Regardless of how the Patriots fare, the Ravens expect to extend their 2008 season into 2009.

"It doesn't matter. We're going to go out and do our best to win this game no matter what," first-year quarterback Joe Flacco said. "No matter how we get in there, believe me, we're going to be a playoff team and we're going to be happy that we're in the playoffs."

Should New England fulfill Harbaugh's prediction, the Ravens must defeat a Jacksonville team that has endured a forgettable 2008 season after coming within a victory of reaching the AFC championship a year ago. The Jaguars have lost four of five, the lone exception a 20-16 win over Green Bay on Dec. 14 that was followed by a 31-24 defeat at home last week against Indianapolis.

Disappointed over the team's poor showing this year, Jaguars vice president of player personnel James Harris resigned Tuesday. But head coach Jack Del Rio, who served as linebackers coach for the Ravens during their run to the Super Bowl in 2000, remains hopeful Jacksonville can put a satisfying lid on a disappointing season.

"It's been a tough year. We've got one more opportunity left, and I expect us to compete with the kind of energy that we brought the last few times out," Del Rio said. "The guys have been hungry for a win. We got one in Green Bay, we were close against Indy (and) didn't quite get it, and we want to finish strong."

Defeating Baltimore will not be easy. The Ravens' only losses this season have come against teams bound for the playoffs: Pittsburgh (twice), Indianapolis, Tennessee and the New York Giants. Baltimore is 5-2 at home and has won eight of 10.

The Jaguars might come to town with visions of being a spoiler, but Flacco figures their enthusiasm won't last long before Baltimore breaks their spirit.

"Yeah, probably for about the first quarter," Flacco said. "As long as we come out and let them know that we're here to play, hopefully we can let them know that they have no business coming to Baltimore and trying to ruin our chances."

Ending the Ravens' season is merely one facet of the incentive Jacksonville has for winning.

"A bigger factor to me is finishing this thing right," quarterback David Garrard said. "It hasn't been the season we wanted it to be, but at least we can go out winners in our last game and hopefully knock somebody out from going to the playoffs."

Baltimore went 5-11 last year, but took a measure of consolation in ending the season with a win over the Steelers.

"We know they're men on a mission," Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said of the Jaguars. "This is actually their first game for next year. They're anxious to put this season behind them and they want to get started for next year right away. I mean, we had the same feeling last year. We know they're going to come here and play to win."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 28, 2008

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