Originally posted on Helmet2Helmet  |  Last updated 12/29/11

Although there are a few tantalizing win-and-in contests scheduled to take place in Week 17, the Ravens-Bengals AFC North showdown arguably holds the greatest postseason implications.

Arguably, the stakes are higher for the Ravens, who could capture both the division and the AFC’s No. 2 seed with a win.

Baltimore — players and coaches alike — know how much they’ve got vested in this game.

“It’s about us, man. It’s not about them,” Ravens defensive end Cory Redding said Wednesday. “We need to get this win so we can get what we’re looking for: a bye week and home-field advantage.”

Ray Lewis, whose seen the Bengals (and the playoffs) many times in his illustrious career, emphasized the importance of Sunday’s matchup.

“This is a playoff game,” he said. “The thing is, they’re trying to get in and we’re already in. We have to go finish what we started, what we’ve been working on the whole year. We know that we’re playing for home-field advantage. We know how big that is, to come play in Baltimore. There is nothing else on our mind.”

And he’s right in a sense. The Ravens are fighting for a bye week and home game at M&T Bank Stadium, and will be doing battle against the Bengals, who could lock up a wildcard spot in front of their championship-starved fans.

It’s going to have a playoff atmosphere with so much on the line. Coach John Harbaugh agrees, and echoed Lewis’ thoughts.

“This is the type of opportunity that you work for in this league,” Harbaugh said. “Everything we put into our offseason work, everything we do is geared toward this time of year. In my mind, this is the playoffs.”

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