Posted on December 26, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
In an effort to add more drama to the final Sunday of the regular season, the NFL has altered a few games. Apparently, they did so without consulting Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, who is not pleased with the change. The Ravens had their Week 17 game at home against the Bengals pushed back from 1:00 EST to 4:25 EST. On Tuesday, Harbaugh expressed his frustration and opposition to the NFL’s decision to change game times.
With the Ravens, Bills, Titans, and Chargers all alive for the two wild-card spots in the AFC, the league wanted those four teams playing at the same time. With the Chargers playing on the west coast, the only way to schedule all four games at the same time was to reschedule the Ravens, Bills, and Titans for 4:25. For most fans, it’s a great idea that will add great drama and suspense. But Harbaugh took issue with the idea, believing the change will hurt the Ravens.
“I don’t think the NFL did us any favors by moving it back,” explained Harbaugh. “But they don’t care about us. So, we just have to care about ourselves. We have to take care of our own business. That goes for our team, for our fans, and for our city. Let’s go win the football game.”
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Harbaugh’s concern is that the later game time will interfere with fans who have New Year’s Eve plans. The Ravens aren’t used to playing 4:25 home games, so it will be an adjustment for fans. The last-minute change doesn’t help either. Baltimore has already had difficulty with fans not showing up to games. Even with every game being important with the Ravens chasing a playoff spot, Team president Dick Cass sent season-ticket holders a letter last week imploring them to come out and support the team.
“I don’t know what their considerations are at the league office, and why they do what they do,” said Harbaugh. “I really don’t care, other than the fact that I hope our fans are OK with it. I hope they’re into it. I hope people get there. The people who have plans, I hope they give their tickets to someone else so they get there. I want the place to be packed and loud.”
Despite the change in game time, the Ravens enter Week 17 in a favorable position. Baltimore is 9-6, while the Bills, Titans, and Chargers are all 8-7. The Ravens don’t need any help to reach the postseason, they simply need to beat the 6-9 Bengals. Baltimore can also clinch a wild-card spot if either Buffalo or Tennessee loses. That gives the Ravens several paths to reach the postseason.
Considering the position Harbaugh’s team finds itself, the head coach would be better off game planning to beat the Bengals rather than complaining about the time of the game. If attendance is a concern for a team playing must-win games every week, game time shouldn’t make a big difference. Harbaugh is right when he says the NFL is doing the Ravens any favors. But Harbaugh shouldn’t be complaining about putting four teams fighting over two spots on an equal playing field.