OWINGS MILLS — December is a special time around the Ravens’ Under Armour Performance Center.
The lights are hung and holiday trees are trimmed around the facility.
It’s also the time the Ravens begin to look at a strong finish to the regular season and a potentially deep run in the playoffs.
For the past two years, those plans were derailed by injuries.
Now, the Ravens have an almost fully healthy roster that includes quarterback Lamar Jackson, who missed the final five games in each of the past two regular seasons.
Coach John Harbaugh likes the potential of his team.
“It’s Advent. The Advent – we are seeking something in Advent, and we’re definitely seeking something from a football perspective in December,” Harbaugh said. “So, that’s what we’re after right now. But we want to be at our best, and obviously having Lamar and all the guys where they’re at right now are ready to go, [and it] is something that we’re excited about. But we have some things to accomplish, and it starts with just playing our best football from day to day and from game to game.”
With a healthy roster comes tough decisions.
Harbaugh must decide on the best 48 players who can be active for the game.
As far as Harbaugh is concerned, that’s a good problem.
“There’s going to be healthy scratches,” Harbaugh said. “We haven’t had too many healthy scratches this year, so there will be some healthy scratches. [It’s] not an indication of how well guys can contribute for us because they’ve contributed already so well. So, it’s just going to be kind of strategic based on what we’re faced with and what gives us the best chance to deal with whatever we have to deal with during the game personnel-wise.”
The Ravens (9-3) have five games left in the regular season and have the opportunity to clinch the top seed and home-field advantage for the AFC playoffs.
That journey starts with the Rams (6-6) in Week 14, followed by the Jaguars (8-4), 49ers (9-3), Dolphins (9-3) and Steelers (7-5).
The players are embracing the opportunity in front of them.
“We know where we stand, but we know in order to get where we want to go and get in that position we want to be in, we have to keep it a one-game-a-time focus and really put everything into the next game,” left tackle Ronnie Stanley said. “We know we still have the end goal in mind, that being the Super Bowl, so from here on out, every game is like a playoff game to us. Every game is a must-win.”