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I posed a question to you all on Twitter last week. Out of all the Baltimore Ravens’ playoff scenarios in Week 17, which of four possible opponents did fans want to see first in the postseason? With an unsurprising yet overwhelming majority, Ravens fans chose the Pittsburgh Steelers.
With that selection in mind, I’m doing this week’s rooting guide focused on creating a matchup against Pittsburgh in the Wild-Card round of the AFC playoffs. While there are a few different scenarios where that can occur, I chose ones that feature Baltimore beating the Cincinnati Bengals first and then looked at the other games needed to find the most likely path toward that matchup. I’ve also written up every other Ravens playoff scenario earlier in the week, so check that out if you’d rather see Baltimore play another team in the wild card.
If the Ravens are going to take on the Steelers in the playoffs, this is what is most likely going to happen:
Miami Dolphins (10-5) at Buffalo Bills (12-3)
Rooting for: Dolphins
ALLEN EYESTONE/The Palm Beach Post
In every scenario that has the Ravens beating the Bengals, the Dolphins have to beat the Bills for the Steelers matchup to happen. There's a real chance that happens too. Miami has been playing far better football in recent weeks and though they are forced into starting Tua Tagovailoa after Ryan Fitzpatrick tested positive for COVID-19, the rookie has fared pretty well when he's started. Oh yeah, and the Dolphins nearly beat the Bills back in Week 2, losing by a field goal difference.
Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3) at Cleveland Browns (10-5)
Rooting for: Browns
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images
As great as it would be to see the Browns get booted from the playoffs after doing so well, Ravens fans have to root for them this week. The only way Baltimore takes on the Steelers is if they lose in Week 17, dropping them to the third seed while Baltimore holds the No. 6 seed. This is also going to be a fantastic matchup to keep half an eye on. Pittsburgh has already clinched their ticket to the playoffs while Cleveland is still fighting to get in. But beyond that storyline is a repeat of Mason Rudolph vs. Myles Garrett, which many might remember from the helmet-swinging fiasco last season. It's sure to be chippy at the least.
Tennessee Titans (10-5) at Houston Texans (4-11)
Rooting for: Texans
Ultimately, the winner of Tennessee vs. Houston won't really impact anything for Baltimore if the first three games play out as I have them here. But when looking at the rest of the postseason, it's worth stacking the deck in the Ravens' favor. The Titans should concern Baltimore. Not only did Tennessee beat them in the divisional round last year, but they also won earlier this season. It would be a bit of redemption if the Ravens can slay that demon but I think most fans would feel better if the Titans weren't even in the playoffs. A loss here and a little help from the Colts make that a reality in this rooting guide.
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-14) at Indianapolis Colts (10-5)
Rooting for: Colts
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
As noted above, if Indianapolis can get over the speedbump that is the 1-14 Jaguars, the Colts will claim the No. 4 seed. In fact, they have to win this game in order to even get into the postseason, as their hopes in this rooting guide rely solely on winning the AFC South. There are other paths into the playoffs for Indianapolis but not if the Dolphins beat the Bills as we have listed above.