Ravens rested and ready for playoff test against Texans

OWINGS MILLS — While the top-seeded Ravens used the bye week to begin preparation for the divisional round and to nurse injuries, coach John Harbaugh said the mental break was also beneficial.

The Ravens earned a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs by finishing 13-4 and winning the AFC North.

Baltimore will play the fourth-seeded Houston Texans on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium. Houston routed Cleveland, 45-14, in the wild-card round and was impressive on defense and offense.

While Harbaugh conducted practices on Wednesday through Saturday, the players did not have to focus on game-planning for a specific opponent.

The players also were able to take Sunday off and watch the other teams compete.

“I think it was good just from the mental standpoint and also certainly the recovery standpoint,” Harbaugh said. “It’s the late season of a long season. We had a lot of very physical games down the stretch. Every one of our games was a meaningful game for us and for our opponent until the last one, which was still meaningful for [the Pittsburgh Steelers], and most of our guys played. I think the mental rest was valuable.

“You work hard to get that bye [week]. I don’t think anybody’s ever requested not to have the bye when they’ve earned it, have they? It’s definitely a positive, and I know our guys looked at it that way. We had a really good week of practice. We did what we needed to do.” 

Harbaugh isn’t concerned about his players losing their sharpness because of the time off.  He has a solid mix of young and older players who have been able to stay focused all season.

Harbaugh was also able to make several observations from the other postseason games on Sunday.

“There were teams that came out and played really well,” Harbaugh said. “There were teams that came out and didn’t play well. You take notice of that, and you try to say, ‘Well, why? Why are those things happening to that team? That’s not something they expected.’ So, I think all the guys do the same thing. I might mention it somewhere along the way to some degree, but the game last night, both teams [Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams] played great.

“So, we just have to be focused on playing our best football. We want to be focused, and we want to be loose at the same time. Those two things are very important, and that’s what we’ll shoot for.”

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