The Ravens secured a third consecutive playoff berth with Sunday's win over the Browns. "This is where it starts because we have an opportunity now to accomplish what we dream of and what we've worked for," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after the 20-10 victory. But the Ravens won't find out who their first-round foe is until next weekend. Four scenarios are in play.
We all know the Ravens' preferred path. If the Ravens take care of business against the Bengals and the Steelers are upset by the Browns (who have beat the Patriots and the Saints this season), the Ravens will claim the AFC North, the No. 2 seed and a wild-card matchup with their sofas.
Should the Steelers win, it won't matter what the Ravens do against the Bengals. They are a game ahead of the sixth-seeded Jets and hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Ravens and the Steelers are both playing at 1 p.m. Sunday, though, which tables talk of resting certain starters.
If the Ravens don't get that post-holiday miracle in the form of a Browns win, they have three possible opponents for the wild-card round: the Chiefs, the Colts and the Jaguars.
If the Chiefs beat the Raiders, they'll lock down the No. 3 seed and play the Jets. The Ravens would travel to play the winner of the AFC South, which would be the Colts if they beat the Titans.
If the Chiefs lose and the Colts win, the Colts will be the No. 3 seed and the Chiefs will be the No. 4 seed, which means the Ravens would travel to Kansas City two weeks from now.
If the Chiefs lose and the Jaguars win the AFC South (with a victory over the Texans and a Colts loss to the Titans), Jacksonville would host Baltimore in the wild-card round.
So the Ravens could be in Indianapolis, Kansas City, Jacksonville or Owings Mills when the playoffs kick off two weeks from now. Did this all make sense? My head is spinning right now.
So I've got to ask: Outside of the Ravens winning the AFC North and earning a first-round bye, which of these scenarios do you prefer? And which path is the most perilous for the Ravens?