The Ravens did their thing again Sunday, beating the winless Indianapolis Colts in another anxiety-free game. But that doesn’t mean the Ravens didn’t feel anxious afterward as they watched other AFC contenders handle their business, too, with the New England Patriots holding off a last-minute Washington Redskins rally and the Houston Texans stunning the Cincinnati Bengals with the game-winning touchdown with two seconds left.
There is still a four-way tie atop the AFC, with the Ravens, Patriots, Texans and Pittsburgh Steelers all sitting at 10-3. The Ravens, of course, have the edge over the Steelers in the division by virtue of their season sweep.
But if the Ravens somehow slip up down the stretch -- a pair of tricky road games remain -- and fall behind the Steelers in the AFC North, they would likely face one of the NFL’s hottest teams on wild-card weekend.
Inspired by the play of second-year quarterback Tim Tebow, the 8-5 Denver Broncos have seized control of the AFC West after defeating the Chicago Bears in overtime Sunday. The Broncos have won seven of eight games, including three via walk-off overtime field goals by Matt Prater, to stake a claim for the No. 4 seed.
Tebow has been the main subplot of Denver’s remarkable turnaround, but a smothering secondary, a fierce pass rush and a rejuvenated Willis McGahee have all played a role in the story. With the Broncos pounding teams on the ground and the defense keeping the game close, they have allowed Tebow Time to take place.
And if you haven’t yet caught a glimpse of Tebow’s late-game magic, you really are missing out. It’s crazy.
There is, however, a chance Ravens fans might experience it firsthand if the Ravens aren’t able to win out.
If the Steelers win the division and the Ravens settle for a wild-card spot again, they would more than likely have to travel to Denver to take on Tebow and the Broncos in the first round of the playoffs. Is that a scary thought?
(And I mean them playing the Broncos on the road, not the prospect of making the playoffs as a wild card.)
Logic says that the frenetic, ferocious Ravens defense would smother Tebow and the Broncos’ running game and that the Ravens offense would have success running the ball with Ray Rice. But then again, Logic doesn’t have NFL “Sunday Ticket” and hasn’t been watching Tebow pull off these improbable comebacks every week.
I know there is a good chance the Ravens will win the AFC North and get a first-round bye, so take this only as a hypothetical conversation for the water cooler: Would you worry about the Ravens getting Tebowed if they played the Broncos in the playoffs? Or are you confident that the Ravens would be able to stomp out the magic?