Baltimore Ravens Coach John Harbaugh has a lot to be thankful for this Christmas. His team currently rests atop the AFC with a record of 11-3 and shares that NFL-best mark with the San Francisco 49ers. It has been a bit of a down season for the NFL, as many of the powerhouse teams and star players have either underperformed or been injured. As the regular season enters its final three weeks, there is little doubt who the top teams are in each conference. Despite the absolute logjam for Wild Card positions, the Ravens almost assuredly will own home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
That is, of course, if they can keep winning. The team has excelled despite injuries to the run game and to star tight end Mark Andrews, and even with a dearth of talent to support quarterback Lamar Jackson, the Ravens continue to find ways to win and stay ahead of the pack in the AFC. While most families will be gathered around the tree on Christmas Day, opening gifts, drinking egg nog, and pretending to like their family, for John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens, Christmas Day could find the team on the “naughty” list.
On Christmas, in a dream scenario for a league struggling with competitiveness, the teams with the best record in their respective conferences will slug it out to see who gets gifts and who gets a lump of coal and a bundle of switches. The Ravens head West to battle the favorite 49ers on Christmas Day in a game that should be a gift to football fans everywhere. For John Harbaugh when asked about his Christmas list for the year, he only had a couple of requests for the jolly fat man in the red suit.
Harbaugh, who is a devout Catholic, recently talked about playing on Christmas Day and what his Christmas list would include. The list wasn’t long, but it was significant for football and life. When asked, Harbaugh said: “World peace and a win. I’m not in that order on that.” Considering how San Francisco is playing, world peace may be a more reasonable goal. Harbaugh, who is the longest-tenured coach in Ravens history, got laughs from the media in attendance but elaborated and mentioned something very close to his heart.
In a nod to the season as well as the current social climate in America, Harbaugh said: “Life is always better when you win.” he said. “That’s the number one thing we’re all going to try and accomplish…I would say we should try to remember the advent message…let’s try to get along.” Harbaugh has guided the team to a playoff berth after the 23-7 win over the reeling Jacksonville Jaguars, but punching that Super Bowl ticket is going to be a tougher task.
Harbaugh beat the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII, and the Christmas Day game will reveal whether the Ravens are a legitimate threat or a wounded team taking advantage of a down year for the AFC. Harbaugh concluded: “Excited about the upcoming game on Christmas night against a worthy opponent. Big challenge for us. We’re excited.”
It has been a season short on drama and long on mediocrity, but the Christmas Day tilt between the two best teams in the NFL should be a welcome gift for fans in need of a distraction from family. However, if the Ravens underwhelm, Harbaugh may be looking at a lump of coal in his stocking after the flight back to Baltimore
.Featured image: Maryland GovPics, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
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