I’ve never been a huge fan of premature looks into the playoff picture and possible postseason scenarios, just because things can change so quickly in the NFL.
One week you’re tied for the top record in the AFC, the next week you could be making arrangements to play a wild card game on the road.
But just so everyone has full awareness of where things stand with the Ravens’ playoff pursuits, here are the scenarios by which Baltimore could clinch a postseason berth this weekend, according to the league office:
* The Ravens are in the playoffs with a win or tie
* OR Jets loss and Raiders loss/tie
* OR Jets loss and Titans loss/tie
* OR Raiders loss/tie and Titans loss/tie
In addition, the NFL has confirmed to ESPN that even though the Ravens currently hold the No. 2 spot in the AFC playoff picture because of Houston’s superior conference record, if Baltimore wins its final three games this season, it will earn the conference’s top seed.
So there you go.
If you scan the list of matchups around the NFL this weekend, you’ll see one which has holds a great level of significance for Ravens coach John Harbaugh - Pittsburgh at San Francisco.
Ah yes, the old arch-rival vs. younger brother game.
Harbaugh will have a lot invested in this one, which pits brother Jim and the 49ers against the Steelers, who are currently tied with the Ravens atop the division with a 10-3 record.
Asked yesterday if he’ll be making a few phone calls to his brother this week and passing along some inside information on the Steelers, Harbaugh smiled and looked at a team official.
“Is there any NFL regulation on that?” Harbaugh asked.
Informed that talking to your brother is certainly allowed under league rules, Harbaugh then went on to say that he does plan to have a chat with Jim sometime this week.
“I’m sure there will be some of that,” Harbaugh said. “You know, coaches, really, the truth is, coaches do that around the league based on best interest and things like that. I know for a fact a lot of coaches have spent a lot of time talking about us before they play us, so I’m sure we’ll try to help him in some way if we can. But it’s not really our game; it’s not really our concern.
“The truth of the matter is - because to me, that should not be a story, it really shouldn’t - the story is us going out and playing San Diego. That’s the story, and that’s what we’re going to be concerned with.”
It won’t be a major story, but it might be a factor. The Ravens and Steelers have met 10 times over the last four seasons, and Harbaugh’s coaching staff probably knows Pittsburgh’s players and tendencies as well as any staff in the NFL.
The 49ers will need to beat the Steelers on their own, but a little extra information sure can’t hurt.