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mesaSteeler
12-25-2008, 08:50 PM
Ravens, Steelers ignore playoff talk
http://myespn.go.com/blogs/afcnorth/0-1-374/Ravens--Steelers-ignore-playoff-talk.html
December 24, 2008 1:30 PM

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

After working every day since July in training camp to get to this very position, both the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers are suddenly drowning out the "P" word.

Playoffs?

What playoffs?

Ravens coach John Harbaugh wants to keep all the focus on Sunday's regular-season finale. Likewise for Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who is so tightly wound this week that not even a special visit from Santa Claus could loosen him up.

Both teams have one more game left in the regular season, but if things go as planned the AFC North will have two teams in the playoffs next week. Pittsburgh (11-4) already secured the No. 2 seed in the conference while Baltimore (10-5) is favored to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10) at home to secure the No. 6 seed.

With each club facing a different set of circumstances, here are four key questions facing Pittsburgh and Baltimore in Week 17:

Questions for Ravens

Is this really a must-win?

The game-time change to 4:15 p.m. ET Sunday provided an interesting situation for Baltimore. The Ravens could know by kickoff if they've clinched a playoff berth, but they can't let that affect their preparation this week.

According to Harbaugh, Sunday's game against Jacksonville is an absolute must-win. Baltimore controls its own destiny, but a loss could open the door for one of the three teams from the AFC East.

Harbaugh is telling media representatives and his team that the New England Patriots' 1 p.m. game against the Buffalo Bills (7-8) is his NFL "lock of the week." A win by New England would get the Patriots the No. 6 seed if the Ravens do not take care of business. So Baltimore is preparing as if New England (10-5) is already victorious.

"New England is going to win a football game," Harbaugh said. "We know that. Everybody knows that. So we're going [out there] 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."

Although it could come off as gamesmanship, this is the right way for Harbaugh and the Ravens to approach it. The Ravens cannot rest and let up in practice this week without knowing the result.

If Buffalo happens to upset New England, then Harbaugh reserves the right to change his approach Sunday if he chooses.

How dangerous is Jacksonville?

Surely, Baltimore is a better team than the Jaguars. The Ravens have won four of their last five and are coming off the biggest win of the season against the Dallas Cowboys.

But Jacksonville at times has shown flashes of last year's team that won a round in the playoffs. The Jaguars beat both the Indianapolis Colts (11-4) and Denver Broncos (8-7) this season, but they've also lost eight of their last 10.

"As long as we come out and play like we want to and let them know that we're here to play, hopefully we can do that and let them know that they have no business coming to Baltimore and trying to ruin our chances," Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said. "It's all up to us."

Week 17 games are dangerous, because bad teams want to end the year on a good note. Struggling teams also like to extend their misery by ending the postseason hopes of others.

"They have nothing to lose. They have everything to gain," Harbaugh said. "They're a prideful team. I think we understand the personality of their football team."

Questions for Steelers

Why does Pittsburgh care about winning Sunday?

Because it's the rival Cleveland Browns (4-11).

Similar to Michigan versus Ohio State in college football, so much is riding on the success of the Steelers-Browns rivalry. Tomlin has quickly immersed himself in Pittsburgh's mentality, and a large part of it hinges on beating the Browns every year within the division.

Tomlin's predecessor, Bill Cowher, made a career of doing it, which contributed greatly to his legend. Tomlin would do himself a huge favor by keeping that trend going. So far he's 3-0 against the Browns in two seasons.

"It is Cleveland, that makes it easier," Tomlin said during his weekly news conference in Pittsburgh. "We know the history of this rivalry and we respect that."

A win Sunday would give the Steelers a 6-0 sweep of the division, which is no easy feat. It would also mark Pittsburgh's 11th straight win over Cleveland.

In an ideal situation, Pittsburgh would run up the score early, then pull its starters at halftime and allow the backups to hold onto the lead. Such a scenario would allow the Steelers to get the bad taste of last week's loss to the Tennessee Titans out of their mouths -- and stay healthy.

The Browns are in the middle of a five-game losing streak and haven't scored an offensive touchdown in that span. So don't rule out that possibility.

"However you shape it, a winning performance puts an exclamation point on what's been a solid season," Tomlin said. "That moves us into the playoffs in, I think, a good frame of mind to chase the goals we set out to chase."

What about the health of key veterans?

Pittsburgh entered the year with the NFL's toughest strength of schedule and came out of it with plenty of aches and pains. The notable ailments include starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder, ankle), safety Ryan Clark (shoulder) and tailback Willie Parker (shoulder).

Every team is banged up this time of year, but not every team is in a position to rest. But also keep in mind that the Steelers have a bye week in the first round of the postseason. The players will get a week off regardless, so that also is factoring into Tomlin's decision to play for the win on Sunday.

Week 17 provides a very delicate balance of health and performance for both the Ravens and Steelers. How the two head coaches handle their respective situations will play a big role in the success of these AFC North teams moving forward.

Steelman16
12-25-2008, 08:56 PM
Go for it Mike! After Christmas special, 41-3 at halftime!

:tt02:

Galax Steeler
12-26-2008, 05:54 AM
I am behind Tomlin we need to go into the playoffs on a winning note and with momentum.

GBMelBlount
12-26-2008, 06:01 AM
I agree, however rest, healing and unnecessary exposure to injuries will hopefully be factored in as well.

Dino 6 Rings
12-26-2008, 09:29 AM
Baltimore is in a must win situation. We aren't but are going to play it like its a must win because we want to go into the Playoffs on a high note.

If Baltimore loses...they aren't going to the playoffs, there are too many other key factors for other teams, like the Jets, Dolphins, Patriots all getting in if Baltimore Loses.

ELIMINATED: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Houston, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Oakland

Miami Dolphins
Can clinch the AFC East division with:
1. a win, OR
2. a tie and a New England loss or tie.

can clinch a playoff spot with:
1. a tie and a Baltimore loss.

New England Patriots
Can clinch an AFC East Division title with:
1. a win plus a Miami loss or tie, OR
2. a tie and a Miami loss.

can clinch a playoff spot with:
1. a win plus a Baltimore loss or tie, OR
2. a tie and a Baltimore loss.

New York Jets
can clinch the AFC East division with:
1. a win plus a New England loss.

can clinch a playoff spot with:
1. a win plus a Baltimore loss.

Baltimore Ravens

can clinch a playoff spot with:

1. a win, OR
2. a tie plus a Miami loss or tie, OR
3. a tie plus a New England loss or tie, OR
4. a New England loss.

Dino 6 Rings
12-26-2008, 09:40 AM
I have no idea what happens if the Jets beat the Dolphins, the Jags beat the Ravens and the Bills beat the Patriots.

But since that's the most unlikely scenario, I really doubt it'll happen.

Oh but it would be hilarious if that did happen.

SaccMann
12-26-2008, 10:29 AM
I have no idea what happens if the Jets beat the Dolphins, the Jags beat the Ravens and the Bills beat the Patriots.

But since that's the most unlikely scenario, I really doubt it'll happen.

Oh but it would be hilarious if that did happen.
Jets ( As the division winner) and Ravens ( As the second wild card) would both be in.

SaccMann
12-26-2008, 11:05 AM
Cmon Jags.....beat them plz :excited:

Here is a good link from NFLdot com.
http://www.nfl.com/news/story?id=09000d5d80cfd578&template=with-video-with-comments&confirm=true

lilyoder6
12-26-2008, 11:08 AM
i would love 2 see the pats not make the playoffs this yr...

all i'm saying is that i would not want 2 be the number 3 and 4 seed in the 1st rd of playoffs... i mean playing the hot colts and poss the ravens/pats... is a bit scary

BlastFurnace
12-26-2008, 11:43 AM
I don't fear any of the current teams any more than I feared the 2005 Colts..and look what happened there.

We can beat anyone...anywhere.

The team that is becoming a slight concern is the San Diego Chargers.

SaccMann
12-26-2008, 12:01 PM
I don't fear any of the current teams any more than I feared the 2005 Colts..and look what happened there.

We can beat anyone...anywhere.

The team that is becoming a slight concern is the San Diego Chargers.

I don't fear any of these teams either but then again I don't play against them.
Every team that makes the playoffs is capable of winning.
Starting Monday it is a new season with only the Best teams filtered in and all the under par teams gone.

Shreveport Steeler
12-26-2008, 12:19 PM
I think Ben and Willie should play a few possessions and then sit for the rest of the game. I think Leftwich and Moore are more than enough to get a W vs. the Browns

lilyoder6
12-26-2008, 12:26 PM
i think the starters will play at LEAST 1 qtr of play... then start to bring in the back-ups with the starters.. then by the 2nd half should are be back-ups

SaccMann
12-26-2008, 12:54 PM
I think Ben and Willie should play a few possessions and then sit for the rest of the game. I think Leftwich and Moore are more than enough to get a W vs. the Browns

I kind of agree with this but if Ben starts then is replaced (By the current NFL rules) can he come back into the game to wrap it up or bring us from behind?

Personly I'd like to see both Leftwich and Dixon get some playing time before the playoffs start.

However I am not up on the current NFL rules in this situation.

markymarc
12-26-2008, 02:36 PM
How sad is the AFC West division considering the Chargers can still win it by beating the Broncos on Sunday. I don't care what teams make it. There is no team that I fear and that includes both the Colts and Titans who already beat us once. Actually I would love nothing more than to face both of them in the playoffs. And IMO the outcome would be completely different in the rematches.

SteelCityKing
12-26-2008, 05:30 PM
i'm actually rooting for the Jags just to keep these goobers out of the playoff picture.

i always root for everyone who battles of the AFC North. i just like sitting back watching them chew each other up.

as for the Browns game, can they envoke a mercy rule for that game!? i think they'll need it. =)

LVSteelersfan
12-26-2008, 10:23 PM
It is weird but I would much rather see the Ravens in the playoffs than the Patsies. I hate that team with a freakin passion and hope they lose every game for the rest of eternity. That Belichick is hard to beat in the playoffs and I don't want to have to play them even though we kicked their butts the first time. I suspect we will get the Colts in the first game which is no picnic. There is no easy game in the AFC playoffs. AFC is still better than the NFC from top to bottom in the playoffs. I wish we could play the Cardinals or the Falcons any day of the week over the Colts and the Titans or Ravens, or Patsies.

WindyCitySteelerFan
12-27-2008, 02:36 AM
YES WE CAN!!

And I will be there.

GO STEELERS

HometownGal
12-27-2008, 08:10 AM
I agree, however rest, healing and unnecessary exposure to injuries will hopefully be factored in as well.

Exactly, Tom. I'm hoping Ben, FWP and Silverback are sat and rested or at the very least, given limited playing time. These 3 are key for a successful playoff run and the Clowns want to win this game almost as bad as we want it. Why risk further injury?

Texasteel
12-27-2008, 08:15 AM
Exactly, Tom. I'm hoping Ben, FWP and Silverback are sat and rested or at the very least, given limited playing time. These 3 are key for a successful playoff run and the Clowns want to win this game almost as bad as we want it. Why risk further injury?

I would really hate to lose a player from a cheap shot, and I have seen the Browns do that before.