OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A win and they’re in.
Long assumed a mere formality, a Ravens playoff berth can be earned on Sunday. Just get the victory first said the head coach.
“I did mention to the team, I think I said ‘Where are we? We’re nowhere until we get there. When we get there we’ll be there and we’ll take it from there’. How’s that? That’s actually pretty good,” said John Harbaugh. “I didn’t say it quite that well to the guys.”
Harbaugh’s guys know a victory in Buffalo clinches a postseason spot. A win and a Steelers loss or tie gives the Ravens the AFC North division title.
“That’d be dope but we can’t peek ahead,” said quarterback Lamar Jackson. “We got to focus on winning.”
To win and build upon their franchise-record streak, with a ninth consecutive victory, they’ll have to beat the upstart Bills (9-3). Buffalo employ the NFL’s third-ranked defense. It’s yet another top defensive unit for the Ravens to counter.
“Their defensive backs are playing really well, they got a great group of front seven, again. Seems like we can’t get a break,” said right tackle Orlando Brown Jr.
The Ravens (10-2) faced the league's No. 1 defense, the San Francisco 49ers, last week.
On offense Buffalo has second-year quarterback Josh Allen. Like Jackson he’s a 2018 first-round draft pick. Also like Jackson he’s a dual-threat. He’s got a big arm and he can run.
“He leads the NFL in yards after contact [for a quarterback],” said Harbaugh.
“He’s a big quarterback. It’s not like he’s a pipsqueak or anything like that,” said linebacker Josh Bynes. “He’s a big, solid quarterback and he runs like a running back.”
“He’s big but other than that he just runs the ball,” added cornerback Marcus Peters. “He runs the ball aggressively. So, got to go out there and make tackles on him.”
Something to watch for on Sunday is more potential history for Jackson. He currently has 977 rushing yards. He needs only 63 more to set the NFL single-season rushing record by a quarterback, currently held by Michael Vick.
“Michael Vick is my favorite player and for me to do such a thing, it’s incredible,” said Jackson. “He had that record for a long time and it would be pretty cool.”
Vick set the record back in 2006.