Harbaugh on crucial season finale: "I feel like we're up to it"
In simplest terms — never an easy matter when dealing with the NFL’s playoff tiebreaking procedures —the Ravens’ path to a postseason berth comes down to a victory over the Bengals and a loss by either the Dolphins or Chargers.
One of the questions, then, is about the teams Miami and San Diego face in Week 17. How motivated will they be to win?
The Dolphins host the Jets. New York is out of the running for the playoffs. A win in Miami at least would mean the Jets don’t finish with a losing record, leaving them 8-8. That doesn’t sound like a whole lot of motivation compared with the Dolphins’ fighting for a wild-card spot.
However, signs are pointing to the firing of Rex Ryan as Jets coach. On Sunday, he wouldn’t directly address a report that he told the team he was on his way out, saying only that he has a contract for next season. So could the Jets be hitting the field to the cry of “Win one for the Rexer”?
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As for the Chargers, they face the Chiefs, who are locked into the top wild-card berth and a No. 5 seed in the AFC playoffs. At 11-4, even if they win and the Broncos lose and the two teams finish with the same record, Denver wins the tiebreaker and the AFC West. So other than wanting to rebound from Sunday’s loss to the Colts and head into the postseason off a win — or maybe feeling extra competitive because it’s a division game — Kansas City could suffer no real ill effects from losing to the Chargers. That’s as opposed to risking injuries to key players. Will the Chiefs rest some of their starters for all or most of the game?
So as the Ravens look for help in Week 17, maybe their best bet is to hope the Jets really want to give Ryan a big send-off.