Thanks to a first-round bye, the Baltimore Ravens will be watching this weekend’s playoff games from their couches, and so should you.
When the Ravens take the field next Sunday in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, they could face three very different opponents, depending on what happens Saturday and Sunday.
Here’s a look at the potential foes:
How: If they beat Cincinnati.
Likelihood: Could happen. Houston already defeated Cincinnati once this year, 20-19, without injured quarterback Matt Schaub.
Analysis: This is probably one of the better options for Baltimore. Houston has been plagued by injuries this season. They lost Schaub to a foot injury, and have struggled to replace him. It looks like they will be starting T.J. Yates at quarterback, who left last Sunday’s game with an injury to his throwing shoulder, and could be easily rattled by a strong Baltimore defense.
Houston will get five-time Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson back, which has the potential to give the Ravens some trouble in the secondary. Baltimore, however, has already defeated Houston once this year.
Houston takes on Cincinnati at 4:30 p.m. Saturday on NBC.
How: If they beat the Steelers and Houston loses.
Likelihood: Pretty unlikely; Pittsburgh’s defense should shut down Denver.
Analysis: The Broncos would most likely be an easy takedown for Baltimore considering they have lost their last three games. While Denver does have a stellar defense that could give Joe Flacco trouble, quarterback Tim Tebow is inconsistent and will not be able to rely on his ground game against the Ravens running defense.
The offensive line will have to work hard to give Flacco time in the pocket so he can connect with receivers downfield.
Denver is scheduled to face Pittsburgh at 4:30 p.m. Sunday on CBS.
How: If they beat Denver and Houston loses.
Likelihood: Possible. Pittsburgh should beat Denver, and Houston has lost their last three games entering the playoffs.
Analysis: The Steelers would probably be the Ravens' toughest opponent in the Divisional Round. Despite beating Pittsburgh twice during the regular season, a third victory won’t be easy to come by. While quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is expected to play, the ability of his injured ankle to hold up still remains to be seen. That being said, if Big Ben was forced to come to Baltimore, his ankle won’t be holding him back.
Who would you like to see the Ravens play next Sunday at 1 p.m.? Vote in the poll and tell us why in the comments.
CORRECTION: The article has been updated to correct the date of next Sunday's divisional round game. Patch regrets the error.