Expect plenty of Ravens rest and "fake" football from now on

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens
Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens / Patrick Smith/GettyImages

As the Baltimore Ravens approach their Week 18 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team faces a classic, pivotal conundrum: whether to rest key players and risk gett ng rusty, or keep the momentum and vibes going risking injuries and setbacks.

With the top seed in the AFC already secured and nothing to play for when they host the Steelers in the regular season next Saturday, the Ravens have the luxury of picking their proverbial poison.before entering a two-week hiatus before they play their first postseason game on Jan. 21st.

The most notable absence would be the one of starting quarterback Lamar Jackson, who was already benched on 2019 when the Ravens found themselves in a similar situation. Perhaps, as a clue, Baltimore already sent Tyler Huntley on relief of Lamar last Sunday in the fourth quarter.

Following Lamar could be those currently in the team's extensive injury list, which includes cornerback Marlon Humphrey (calf injury), safety Kyle Hamilton (ankle), cornerback Brandon Stephens (ankle), inside linebacker Patrick Queen (shoulder), and defensive tackle Michael Pierce (stinger) following Week 17. No need to mention a certain Mark Andrews...

It's fair to find head coach John Harbaugh pondering what to do next, as the idea of resting players is a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, it offers injured players a vital opportunity to heal and return to full strength, which can be a deciding factor for a team with high postseason aspirations.

On the other hand, it raises the question of rust versus rest, as the Ravens won’t be playing a game with their full starting lineup for about three weeks, potentially impacting their momentum and immaculate vibes heading into the playoffs.

Back in 2019, when they rested key players in the final regular season game, the Ravens entered the playoffs fully fit and all that served them was to lose their first game against the Tennessee Titans. Acknowledging this, Harbaugh is likely to weigh his options carefully and make a truly informed (and hopefully better) decision.

Next. The implications of the Ravens winning the AFC. The implications of the Ravens winning the AFC. dark

Whatever decision is made, rest assured the Ravens are guaranteed approximately two weeks of rest after Saturday's matchup, and even if Harbaugh decides to field all of his starters against the Steelers it's also reasonable to expect Baltimore to play some "fake" and "soft" football whether that means minimizing risks, running the clock, or hiding concepts for later use on the playoffs.

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