News item: The Cleveland Browns visit M&T Bank Stadium today hoping to ruin Christmas Eve for the Ravens, who must win their final two regular season games of the season to win the AFC North and earn at least one home playoff game.
My take: Yeah, right. The Browns have a better chance of summoning the Ghost of Christmas past to punish the Ravens for leaving Cleveland.
Bonus take: The NFL could not have gift-wrapped a better Week 16 opponent to help the Ravens stay on track for the No. 2 playoff seed in the AFC, but Week 17 might be a different story.
News item: The Pittsburgh Steelers also need to win both of their remaining games to have any chance of upending the Ravens and winning the division, and they will have to do so with the status of gimpy quarterback Ben Roethlisberger very much up in the air.
My take: Don't get excited. Big Ben could beat the Rams and the Browns from a wheelchair, but Charlie Batch will fill in and should be able to handle St. Louis.
Related news item: Roethlisberger defended the decision by head coach Mike Tomlin to let him play the entire game against the San Francisco 49ers on his sore ankle.
My take: Don't know why this is even an issue. It was a must-win game for the Steelers against the team with one of the best records in the NFL. Hindsight is always 20-20 after a loss, but Roethlisberger is one of the NFL's toughest competitors and he has won a lot of big games playing hurt. He gave the Steelers the best chance to win the most important remaining game on their regular-season schedule.
News item: Wide receiver Anquan Boldin suffered a slight meniscus tear during practice this week and underwent surgery. He'll be lost for at least two weeks.
My take: No doubt, that timetable is somewhat optimistic, which just makes the bye that comes with the No. 2 seed that much more important for the Ravens.
News item: The Ravens re-signed veteran kicker Shayne Graham to do the placekicking against the Browns and give Billy Cundiff at least a week off to rest his sore calf.
My take: I'm starting to think the stars are lining up to point the Ravens toward Indianapolis. How lucky were they to be able to sign one of the most accurate field goal kickers in NFL history with two weeks left to play … and a guy who has already kicked with holder Sam Koch?
News item: Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said this week that Ray Lewis "didn't miss a beat" in his return after four weeks on the sidelines with turf toe.
My take: Well, if that's true, he was about the only one on the Ravens defense who didn't miss something during Sunday night's ugly loss to the San Diego Chargers.
News item: The San Francisco 49ers have officially become the second-favorite team of Ravens fans after being such a polite guest at M&T Bank Stadium on Thanksgiving night and dominating the Steelers on Monday night to restore the Ravens to the projected second seed in the AFC.
My take: If the Ravens go on to win the Super Bowl — and John Harbaugh can remember the combination to his wallet — I'm thinking an antique Corvette or a limited edition Harley would make the perfect President's Day gift for his favorite younger brother.
News item: Somehow, the Houston Texans found a way to lose to the hapless Colts on Thursday night and almost certainly drop out of consideration for the No. 2 seed in the AFC.
My take: That game should be a warning to the Ravens and Steelers not to leave anything to chance this weekend. The Texans played very conservatively on their final extended possession and settled for a four-point lead, only to have the Colts drive the length of the field in the final minutes to become the first one-win team ever to beat a 10-win team in NFL history.
News item: If the Ravens beat the Browns, they'll complete an 8-0 home schedule for the first time in franchise history.
My take: That would be nice, but a 10-0 home record this year would be even nicer.
Listen to Peter Schmuck when he hosts "The Week in Review" Fridays at noon on WBAL (1090AM) and wbal.com.
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