OWINGS MILLS - A division title is already clinched, as is a home playoff game, but the Ravens do enter Sunday's regular season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals with a chance to improve their positioning for the postseason.
With a win against the Bengals Sunday, and a New England Patriots loss to the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore (10-5) would jump the Patriots (11-4) for the No. 3 seed in the AFC as a result of a head-to-head tiebreaker stemming from the Ravens' 31-30 victory over New England in September.
"It improves the chances of playing at home more," Ravens Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda said. "You get a better opportunity to play more games at home if you move up into the [No.] 3 seed - and that's a good thing because we tend to play better at home. ...
"But, either way, we want to win the game against [the Bengals] regardless. That's the way it is, and you can't ever really take your foot off the pedal in this league."
But that's not to say Baltimore couldn't choose to rest some of its injured players against Cincinnati in an effort to get as healthy as possibly heading into the playoffs - a list of players that could possibly include names like Yanda, defensive lineman Haloti Ngata, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, safety Bernard Pollard and fullback Vonta Leach.
Yanda sprained his ankle against the Washington Redskins two weeks ago. He was sidelined against the Denver Broncos but returned against the New York Giants this past weekend. Ngata has played through a sprained knee and injured shoulder for much of the season. Suggs is playing through a torn right biceps. Pollard has missed each of the last two games after aggravating a painful rib injury that's he's dealt with since Week 2. And Leach is still nursing an ankle injury he suffered against the Redskins, although he's played in each of the last two games.
Yanda and Ngata are both yet to practice this week. Leach missed practice Thursday after practicing on a limited basis Wednesday.
"I'm not sure really how to really measure it other than the fact that you just always try to do what you think is best for you team, all things considered," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "There are a lot of factors involved with that. There's no formula here. What we try to do is do what's best for us to be the best team we can be in the playoffs. Part of that is playing as well as we can this week. We're going to [try to] win the football game, but we have other considerations to take into account as well.
"Some of that has to do with different guys' health, and there are some domino effects with that. The No. 1 thing to keep in mind is you have to go play all out to win the football game. You have to."
Tight end Ed Dickson offered a similar sentiment.
"We all want to get better," Dickson said. "We have guys that we need to get healthy, but we're going into the game to win the game. Some guys might not go, some guys might go, but whatever guys are out there we're going to try to win the game. ... But we don't want to beat up the guys that need the rest. And if takes resting a guy to have him 100 percent for the playoffs, then why not?"