As a reward for winning the AFC North and slotting in as the conference’s No. 2 seed, the Steelers earned a first-round bye, allowing them to rest up and get a week of extra time to prepare for their rubber match with the Ravens.
Meanwhile, the Ravens had to travel to Kansas City for a wild card game against the Chiefs, and now are working on a short week with that game against Pittsburgh approaching on Saturday.
That doesn’t sound quite as nice.
Head coach John Harbaugh acknowledges that he would preferred the bye so his players could have had time to let their various injuries heal, but he doesn’t believe that the situation that the Ravens’ situation will be much of a disadvantage this week.
“There is definitely an advantage to having the time off from a rest perspective, and there’s probably an advantage to playing from a being sharp perspective,” Harbaugh said. “So we’ll try to take advantage of the strengths in our factor and hope the things that are strengths in their factor are minimized by the way we approach what we do. I’m very confident we can get our guys rested and recovered and ready to go on Saturday.”
The Ravens didn’t report any injuries after their win over the Chiefs, and it appears that they enter this week fairly well off health-wise. None of their starters appear to be in danger of missing Saturday’s game, which is obviously a plus.
Another positive that’s working in the Ravens’ favor is that their defense played only 40 snaps on Sunday, and was on the field for less than a third of the game.
The Ravens limited the Chiefs’ time of possession to just 18 minutes and change in the wild card game, so the Baltimore defense almost experienced the equivalent of a bye week.
“I think it’s a factor,” Harbaugh said. “We had 40 plays. It’s better than playing 80 plays. Again, that goes to both sides of the ball. That’s the defense getting off the field and the offense staying on the field. It works together - complementary football. That’s what we try to do. I thought that was probably our best team effort - all three phases - of the year, from that perspective. So yeah, it should help us.”