Most seasons, a 12-4 record is enough to earn you a division title, a home game and, likely, a first-round bye.
That wasn’t the case for John Harbaugh’s Ravens this season.
Thanks to a lost division tiebreaker, Baltimore slots in as the AFC’s No. 5 seed, and as a wild card team, they’ll have to try and get the job done away from home.
The Ravens have earned a wild card in each of the last two seasons, so this path is a familiar one for the organization. It’s also been a fairly successful one, all things considered.
In those two years, the Ravens have won three road playoff games, and reached the AFC championship as a No. 6 seed in 2008 after upsetting the top-seeded Titans. Last year, as I’m sure you all remember pretty well, the Ravens - again the No. 6 seed - went into Gillette Stadium and crushed the Patriots.
Could those road successes be a plus for this Ravens team as they prepare to head back on the road and make another push at a Super Bowl?
Harbaugh sure believes so.
“I think it’s a benefit - the fact that we’ve been through it two years in a row, and now we’ll go through it a third time,” Harbaugh said. “We wanted like crazy to not go through it. We wanted that home field (advantage), but we didn’t get it done, so here we are. But, the fact that we’ve done it before is a plus for us.”
One slim possibility that the Ravens can hold onto this year that they couldn’t the previous two seasons is that they could end up hosting the AFC championship game.
If the Ravens and Jets both win out, Baltimore, as the higher-seeded wild card team, would be the home team in the conference title game.
That seems unlikely, however, meaning that despite their impressive regular season record, the Ravens will probably be held without a home playoff game.
There has been some talk of changing the playoff seeding process to a system which awards the teams with better records as compared to the teams that win their divisions. This year, both the Ravens and Jets will play road games against teams that have inferior records but were division champions.
Harbaugh says that he would be in favor of changing the system - or at least he is this year, when his team would benefit from such a rule.
“This year, I think it should be the other way (by record),” Harbaugh said with a laugh. “Some people say you could have two 9-7 teams who beat each other up in a great division (and) would have a worse record than a team that comes out of maybe not as strong of a division. I haven’t really seen that play out yet, so. I’m probably for the reseeding right now. That’s where I would be, given our situation this year.
“But, it really doesn’t matter. We’ve got to go play (in Kansas City).”