As the Baltimore Ravens continue to jockey for playoff position, a meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers might not be a welcome sight.
Baltimore has dropped four straight games against the Steelers but will look to reverse its fortunes against its AFC North rival when the teams clash on Sunday inPittsburgh.
The Ravens (8-4) are well on their way to clinching a playoff berth for the fourth time in the last five seasons, but they still have an opportunity to drastically improve their chances of making a deep run.
With five games left, Baltimore sits just one game behind both Buffalo and Kansas City in the AFC. If the playoffs started now, the Ravens would face Miami in the wild-card round, but they haven't lost sight of potentially rising to the top of the conference to secure a first-round bye.
However, accomplishing that just got a whole lot harder.
Star quarterback Lamar Jackson exited last Sunday's 10-9 victory over the Denver Broncos with a knee injury at the end of the first quarter, and chances are he won't be suiting up against the Steelers (5-7).
Jackson did not practice on Wednesday.
"I would say it's kind of week-to-week," Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said of Jackson's injury status. "As the week goes on, we'll see for this week. Probably less likely for this week, but it's not impossible. After that, it'll become more and more likely."
Tyler Huntley, who completed 27 of 32 passes for 187 yards and an interception against Denver, would draw the start under center if Jackson can't go.
"Both quarterbacks play a similar game," Harbaugh said. "(Huntley) can throw, he can run, he operates really well. ... He'll be excited to play and our guys will be fired up."
Regardless of who will be directing the offense, Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin knows his team has to try and keep them in the pocket.
"Quarterback mobility is going to be an issue in this game, no matter who is playing. We had better be sharp in that area," Tomlin said. "We had better minimize that component of play."
Although the Steelers' playoff hopes are dwindling, they are determined to finish the season on a high note.
Pittsburgh had a strong showing last Sunday, beating Atlanta 19-16 for its third win in four games.
Rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett continued to make strides in the right direction, playing turnover-free football for the fourth straight game while completing 16 of 28 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons.
"That's what you have to do in December. That's what you have to do as the road gets narrower," Tomlin said. "Anybody that's committed to winning here in December better develop an appetite for that.
"Hopefully we use those lessons learned as we move forward and continue to get better and grow, better define our division of labor, better understand our roles within this thing and more consistently engineer a formula that produces victory."
Running back Najee Harris might not be able to help with that formula come Sunday after missing Wednesday's practice with an oblique injury. Linebacker T.J. Watt (ribs) and receiver Diontae Johnson (hip) were limited.
In addition to Jackson, offensive lineman Patrick Mekari (toe) and cornerback Daryl Worley (hamstring) were held out of Baltimore's practice. Linebackers Patrick Queen (thigh) and Kristian Welch (concussion) were limited.
--Field Level Media