The Ravens spent much of the regular season competing with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the AFC North title but with two regular-season games left, a division championship out of the picture and a wild-card berth the only pathway to the postseason, allegiances may temporarily shift.
Games with the New York Giants and the Cincinnati Bengals remain on the schedule for the Ravens (9-5) and victories over those two teams would almost clinch a third consecutive postseason appearance.
FiveThirtyEight gives the Ravens a 97% chance to make the playoffs if they win their final two games, as the team would only need one of three teams currently occupying a wild-card spot — the Cleveland Browns (10-4), Indianapolis Colts (10-4) and Miami Dolphins (9-5) — to lose one game to get back into the playoffs.
It may ultimately be the Ravens’ bitter rivals, the Steelers, who have remaining games against the Colts and Browns in Week 16 and 17, respectively, who gift them an opportunity to make the postseason.
The Steelers (11-3) have lost three straight games, including 27-17 on Monday night to the Cincinnati Bengals, so they’ll be motivated to turn things around the last two weeks of the season.
“We want to get into the playoffs. We know that we need some help,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday at his weekly news conference. “But the focus really for us is going to be on taking care of our business. It doesn’t matter what anybody else does if we don’t take care of our job. And our job is to win. So we’ve got to find a way to win this week. That’s 100% exactly what we’ll be locked in on, focused on. And everything else is not something we can control. But we can control how we play. We need to play our best football next week to win that game.”
Harbaugh: Mark Ingram a ‘consummate professional’ during demotion
Six days after he played one snap against the Browns, running back Mark Ingram II was inactive for the team’s 40-14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Harbaugh said a “series of circumstances” led to Ingram being deactivated, including the play of rookie J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, as well as game-day roster considerations at other positions. Fellow back Justice Hill has also been active, contributing mainly on special teams.
Ingram, a 2019 Pro Bowl selection, has seen his snaps slashed since injuring his ankle in Week 6 against the Philadelphia Eagles. In the team’s first five games before the injury, Ingram averaged close to 20 snaps per game. In the three previous games before Sunday, Ingram played 18 snaps total.
“In a lot of ways, for the team, it’s a good situation,” Harbaugh said. “Because we have a chance to keep getting Mark healthier and stronger all the time. And, you know, we’ve got a lot of good backs. We’ve got a lot of top-notch backs that can contribute.
“His time is coming. There’s no doubt about that. That’s just the way it works in the National Football League and that’s what he understands. We’ve talked about that. I just know it’s going to work out. It’s a good problem to have for us, but, again, I know Mark wants to be out there and he wants to be carrying the rock. But he’s been great about it.”
- Harbaugh said there is a “possibility” tight end Eric Tomlinson is signed from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. The team used its second practice squad elevation for Tomlinson on Sunday. If the team chooses to do so again, Tomlinson will have to clear waivers before rejoining the team.