The Baltimore Ravens earned themselves the opportunity to sit back and watch the opening round of this year's NFL playoffs after securing the No. 1 seed, homefield advantage, and the accompanying first round bye in the AFC.
Two of the three AFC Wild Card games were contested on Saturday, with the No. 4 seed Houston Texans beating the No. 5 seed Cleveland Browns by a score of 45-14, and the No. 3 seed Kansas City Chiefs beating the No. 6 seed Miami Dolphins by a score of 26-7.
Although three of the four AFC Divisional Round spots have been secured, nobody in the AFC knows who they will be playing next weekend, and they will have to wait an extra day to find out after the game between the No. 2 seed Buffalo Bills and the No. 7 seed Pittsburgh Steelers was postponed from Sunday afternoon to Monday afternoon due to a winter storm.
When will the Baltimore Ravens begin their playoff run?
As the top seed, the Ravens are set to take on whichever one of the other three remaining AFC teams has the lowest seed. If the Bills beat the Steelers, that will be the Texans. But if the Steelers beat the Bills, that will be the Steelers.
Since the NFL introduced a Monday game to the Wild Card schedule, they have never had the winner play the following Saturday, as doing so would only give that team four days of rest in between games. We saw this two seasons ago with the Los Angeles Rams, and we saw it again last year with the Dallas Cowboys.
Sure, Monday's game between the Bills and the Steelers isn't the traditional Monday game, given the fact that it was initially scheduled for Sunday, but it's difficult to imagine that the NFL would schedule the winner to play again next Saturday.
So if the Steelers beat the Bills to set up a matchup with the Ravens in Baltimore, that game would presumably be scheduled for Sunday, January 21. But if the Bills beat the Steelers to send the Texans to Baltimore, that game would presumably be scheduled for Saturday, January 20, since the Bills and Chiefs would then square off in Orchard Park on Sunday instead.
As for whether both AFC games could theoretically be contested next Sunday, the simple answer is no -- unless, of course, bad weather gets in the way again.
Let's not forget that there is still an originally scheduled Monday game between two NFC teams: the No. 4 seed Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the No. 5 seed Philadelphia Eagles. The winner of that game would also play on Sunday, ensuring that only one NFC game will be contested on Saturday.
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