The Ravens haven't had a home playoff game in six seasons. Over the course of the next five weeks, they'll set out to end that drought.
Sporting an 8-3 record and with two big wins over Pittsburgh and a Thanksgiving night victory over the previously one-win 49ers in their rearview mirror, the Ravens have set themselves up for their fourth postseason birth in as many seasons. Now they turn their attention to an ever-elusive division title and securing at least one home playoff game.
Following Thursday's win over San Francisco, several players were hesitant to start talking playoffs just yet. But others, especially those who have been through the last three seasons of consistent road postseason games, were able to acknowledge how crucial it would be to have the road to the Super Bowl run through Baltimore.
"That's key," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "When you get home field advantage, you have a good chance of making it to the big dance. I think we have the best fans in the world. We win all of our home games and that's because it's loud and because our fans give us the energy, and we want to play well for them, so home field advantage is key.
"We haven't had a home playoff game since coach has been here. We just want to take it one game at a time, but that's definitely an overall goal: win the division, get it at home field."
When Suggs says that the Ravens win all of their home games, it's not much of an exaggeration. The Ravens are a perfect 6-0 at home this season and have won a staggering 16 of their last 17 games at M&T Bank Stadium.
That dominant play in Charm City hasn't been of much use come playoff time, however. The Ravens have earned an impressive four postseason wins over their last three seasons, but all their playoff action has been away from home.
"Once again, we'll go on the road if we have to, but to get a home game, it would be (big)," safety Tom Zbikowski said. "You see the crowd; the crowd has a lot to do with how we play. They're loud, they're fanatical, they're into it, and they give us a lot of inspiration."
When it comes to earning a division title and locking up at least one home playoff game, the hard part is over with. Both games with the defending AFC champion Steelers are already done, and both have gone in the Ravens' favor.
Now comes what should be the easy part - beating teams with sub-.500 records. Of the Ravens' five remaining opponents, only one (the Bengals) has a winning record. The problem with that, obviously, is the "inferior" opponents are the ones who have given the Ravens the most trouble so far this season.
To earn the division title, the Ravens will need to beat the teams they're supposed to beat, and do it on the road. That starts this Sunday, when Harbaugh's team travels to Cleveland to face the 4-7 Browns.
"It's December football, and that's when you start thinking about things like (home field advantage)," Harbaugh said. "But the only thing we need to be focused on is getting healthy, first of all, and the Cleveland Browns. We've struggled on the road, and we have to go conquer that. That's going to be a really tough task. I know all of our guys are going to focus on that and take care of first things first."