Baltimore hosts the Cleveland Browns in a game that could decide the AFC North division. With the Steelers falling a half-game back of the Ravens in the division, Baltimore can clinch the division title with a win or a Steelers loss.
Should New England and Houston lose, Baltimore could secure a first-round bye. Should the Ravens lose, they would miss the playoffs in tiebreaker scenarios with either the Titans, Colts, or Texans.
Cleveland technically has nothing to play for except the chance to finish about .500 in a season most figured they would be challenged to not finish last. Cincinnati already assures the Browns of a third-place finish, but a Steeler’s loss the Bengals would give the three teams behind the Ravens 7 wins each.
That would be a successful season in Cleveland and build all sorts of excitement and interest in a team that just shed its losing culture and image in the mid-season firing of Hue Jackson.
Rookie Baker Mayfield is not playing great, but he is playing emotional and exciting football. He is a brash young talent and exactly what the doctor ordered in Cleveland right now.
Baltimore is also riding a rookie quarterback in Lamar Jackson. Jackson was expected to wait until next season for his opportunity, but he heard the knock early when Joe Flacco was injured. Jackson is a woefully imperfect passer whose enthusiasm and speed make up for skills in need of development.
It all makes for an exciting matchup in Week 17.
Injuries and notes
The Browns’ Denzel Ward is still questionable with his shoulder injury.
Left guard Alex Lewis is questionable for Baltimore.
Talk about a developing situation. Ravens’ coach John Harbaugh was rumored to be in his final season all year, expected to be swept up in a bunch of changes in the front office and coinciding with the start of the Lamar Jackson era.
Then he successfully adapted his offense to make the most of Jackson and lead the Ravens into a possible division title. Suddenly, the front office announced that they are working on a contract extension to stay in Baltimore.
But wait! The Jets are trying to woo Harbaugh away from Baltimore and ESPN is reporting it is no sure thing Harbaugh will sign the extension offered by the Ravens. Whatever happens, Harbaugh’s future looks brighter thanks to his own brash, new quarterback.
Gregg Williams already put himself into the conversation to be the next Browns head coach. So did offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens, who is at the least, guaranteed the permanent coordinator job in Cleveland. But with a talented young roster, bigger names might jump into the pool of candidates.
How to watch the Ravens-Browns game
CBS Sports will broadcast this game to various affiliates. That means lots of people will watch it on DirecTV Now.
DirecTV Now is a leading internet TV provider, offering all the local and national networks you need to follow the NFL all season.
But it’s more than football. Like fellow providers Fubo TV and Sling, DirecTV Now also includes dozens of national TV networks and movie channels for the same low monthly subscription price.
In fact, you get all your favorite shows and the latest movies, plus the NFL, for just a fraction of what satellite and cable providers charge.
And there is no ugly equipment to put on your roof or yards of cables to install. Just sign into the internet and watch TV on your big flat screen or your smartphone.
Check out the DirecTV Now, Fubo TV, and Sling websites today to see what you’ve been missing.
Who will win the Ravens-Browns game?
This game could be one of the hardest hittings of the week, with two above-average defenses going against flawed, but exciting offenses. The will to win is even on both sides, but the Ravens have shown an ability to ratchet things up a notch at home. That will be the difference.