Ravens beat Browns, bye & home at stake in Cincy

December 24, 2011 | Drew Forrester

Ravens beat Browns, bye & home at stake in Cincy

It all comes down to one weekend of football.

Just as it should be, I guess.

With Saturday’s 20-14 nailbiter over Cleveland safely in the books, the Ravens can now set their sites on a New Year’s Day trip to Cincinnati, where the pesky Bengals await with their playoff fate in their own hands.

At stake for Baltimore — one of three outcomes.  A Ravens win and New England loss at home to Buffalo next Sunday gives Baltimore the #1 seed in the AFC playoffs.  If both the Ravens and New England win, Baltimore gets the #2 seed and a first-round bye in the post-season.  If Baltimore loses and the Steelers win, the Ravens claim the #5 seed and open the post-season on the road against the AFC West champion.

And the Bengals will enter the game in nearly-must-win territory, although there is a way Cincinnati could lose next Sunday and still qualify.

One thing for certain:  The Ravens need to play MUCH better than they did in the second half of Saturday’s win over Cleveland or the playoff trip will be short-lived for Baltimore.

Playing without Anquan Boldin, the Baltimore offense was sluggish, producing just two touchdowns on the day and relying heavily on coaching blunders from Pat Shurmer, horrible use of time-outs by Cleveland, and a dumb Browns offsides penalty in the final two minutes that sealed the deal for the Ravens.

The Browns weren’t wearing Santa Claus outfits, but they might as well have been dressed in all red with a white beard and black boots.  They delivered plenty of gifts to the Ravens on Saturday.

But it’s a win.  And that’s all that matters now, as Baltimore went 8-0 at home to move within a game of securing the team’s first playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium since January 13, 2007.

The Bengals will have plenty to play for, but so will Baltimore next Sunday.

It all comes down to one game.

The Ravens could be the 1 seed, the 2 seed or the 5 seed.

You can’t ask for much more in terms of dramatics.

Which Ravens team will show up?  The one that raced out to a 17-0 first half lead on Saturday vs. the Browns?  Or the one that struggled to hang on down the stretch against journeyman Seneca Wallace?

That question and the looming answer will play a huge role in the playoff picture, as the Ravens desperately try and extend their season with a win over the Bengals and the security of knowing they’d play at least one home post-season game by going into Cincinnati and earning a “w” next Sunday.

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10 Comments For This Post

  1. dean Says:

    I am concerned about out secondary. Also, how can our recievers be dropping passes that are right in the bread basket???? This needs to be rectified NOW! Sluggish is the perfect word for how we played after we went up 17 -0. GO RAVENS and Happy Festivus to y’all!

  2. unitastoberry Says:

    The team went to sleep in the second half. I sit behind the Ravens bench and the head coach needs to do some sideline coaching when his team falls asleep instead of just pace up and down. Clevelands coach is a total idiot and if they had coaching they would have won today. Ok lets win one on the road guys.

  3. BJ KIDD Says:

    I believe this may turn out to be the most disappointing Raven playoff team under John Harbaugh. This team seemed to have so much promise winning all their games at home, but with the lackluster preparation and play on the road, I have no confidence that we will go into Cincinnati next week and win to earn us the second seed in the playoffs. Again, Ravens fans like myself will be sitting at home watching the playoff game at another team’s stadium. And we all know how this year’s team plays on the road. I hope I’m wrong. Go Ravens

  4. The "Armchair QB" Says:

    This offense lacks a “killer instinct” and has trouble finishing teams off. Of course, ir doesn’t help when your offensive coordinator takes his foot off the gas with a 20-0 lead and two quarters left to play! And, Chuck Pagano deserves his share of criticism for not pressuring the passer most of the afternoon. Linebackers are much more effective rushing the passer than trying to cover wide receivers. This team has not played up to their ability for two weeks in a row, which is not necessarily the way you want to go into the playoffs……

  5. Rodney of Manchester, Pa. Says:

    I’m more concerned about the injuries…especially to Yanda. This could be a huge loss if we’re without his play over the next couple weeks!

    Merry Christmas!

  6. PghSteve Says:

    In a year without a rel dominant team in the AFC, the playoffs ought to be interesting. You ask which Ravens team will show up in the playoffs. How about which Patriots team shows up, the one in the first half against Miami or the one from the second half? And the Steelers. They are almost a mirror image of the Ravens – they have not lost to an inferior team all year, but also have not beaten too many top teams. The Ravens have beaten many top teams but have lost games to teams they should have beat. It is nice that all 4 AFC North teams are playing games that might determine playoff seedings. I’ll be a Bengals’ fan on Sunday of course, but still looking forward to the playoffs no matter what happens Sunday.

  7. barnyard Says:

    If the Ravens play the way they did the 2nd half on Saturday, they won’t get out of the first round. Second if they have a bye. Where was the playcalling the last three minutes of the game? They couldn’t pick up a friggin 1st down in three times & only a luck offsides saved their azz’s. I wonder about Harbarough. Ravens would have kicked with two minutes left & played defense???? The way the team played defense 2md half stunk worse than three day old fish.

  8. dave hittinger Says:

    Drew you’ve lost your mojo. Bland blogs plus zero responses make you a very boring boy.

  9. Michael Says:

    To pghsteve,

    You are basically right but there is not as much of a difference and the Ravens record to inferior teams tells a story. They nearly lost to the Cardinals at home. Here are the stats.

    Combined record of teams Ravens lost to 26-34
    Combined record of teams pitt lost to 44-16

    Combined record of teams Ravens beat 80-85
    Combined record of teams pitt beat 70-95

    Since pitt is 11-4 the Ravens two victories = 22-8 in the win and 8-22 in the loss for the steelers, which is essentially the difference. and one of those games was in the balance until the last play. what does all this mean, really nothing, just sayin. You made is seem like there was a huge difference and there really isn’t. One more stat to chew on as we come down to the finish and who is playing well at playoff time. The pitt defense gave up 39 points in the last FIVE Games! that is 7.8 pits per game. check it. 20 of those were scored by a good SF team, otherwise it would be 19 points in 4 games, or 4.75 pts per game! during the same last five games the Ravens gave up 74 points. in my opinion, the difference is the same as all the other years, one play, one penalty, one turnover, a flip of the coin! in other words, too close to call.

  10. Steve Says:

    Ray be nimble
    Ray be quick
    See Ray run over
    The Bengals.

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