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Ravens Insider: Ravens must wait to learn playoff opponent after Bills-Steelers game is postponed to Monday afternoon


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The Ravens will have to wait a little longer to learn who they’ll play in the postseason.

The Buffalo Bills’ wild-card playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers that was scheduled for Sunday was moved to Monday amid a forecast for dangerous winter weather, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Saturday.

Hochul and other officials said they were making the change for safety’s sake. The forecast for the Buffalo area called for heavy snow and winds gusting as high as 65 mph Saturday, with 1 to 2 feet or more of snow eventually piling up.

“We want our Bills to win, but we don’t want 60,000 to 70,000 people traveling to the football game in what’s going to be horrible conditions,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said at a news conference in suburban Buffalo.

The game will be played at Highmark Stadium at 4:30 p.m. Monday instead of 1 p.m. Sunday. The NFL and Bills issued a statement citing “public safety concerns” as the reason to push back the game by a day.

The AFC wild-card round was originally set to be completed by Sunday afternoon, which meant the top-seeded Ravens (13-4), who received a first-round bye and home-field advantage through the conference title game, would know which of four possible opponents — the No. 5 seed Cleveland Browns, No. 4 Houston Texans, No. 6 Miami Dolphins or No. 7 Steelers — would travel to Baltimore for the divisional round Jan. 20 or 21. The NFL playoffs are reseeded after the wild-card round, so the Ravens will host the lowest-remaining seed.

Instead, the Ravens must wait for the conclusion of Monday’s game between No. 2 Buffalo and Pittsburgh, which pushed back its travel plans and will now head to Buffalo on Sunday. Game times for the divisional round will be announced at a later date.

The Ravens practiced Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week and have a scheduled practice Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium in an effort to stay sharp during the bye. The “rest versus rust” debate has resurfaced among fans after the top-seeded Ravens lost to the sixth-seeded Tennessee Titans, 28-12, following a record-setting 14-2 season in 2019.

“One part of you wants to be out there playing and going at it, and the other part of you appreciates that you’re already 1-0 for the week,” coach John Harbaugh said Friday. “With that, it’s not a vacation week. It’s not an off week. It’s a work week. It’s a work week to become the team that we need to be going forward into next week. Our guys have taken that really seriously.”

Quarterback Lamar Jackson, who’s expected to win his second NFL Most Valuable Player Award next month, said Wednesday he’s “definitely antsy” to play.

“But I have to stay locked in knowing what’s ahead,” he said. “We have nothing ahead right now. We’re just practicing and trying to get better for whoever our opponent is next week.”

The Bills are familiar with weather-related schedule changes. In 2022, a lake effect storm led to Buffalo’s home game against Cleveland being moved to Detroit in November. A month later, a massive blizzard forced the Bills to delay their trip home, forcing them to stay overnight in Chicago on Christmas Eve.

Though NFL playoff games have been shifted in the past for various scheduling reasons or to add games to determine tiebreakers, this marks just the third time weather has played a direct factor.

In January 2017, wintry weather in Kansas City led to the NFL pushing back the start of an AFC divisional playoff game between Pittsburgh and the Chiefs from 1 p.m. to 8:20 p.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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