NFL Playoff Bracket 2012: Why Baltimore Ravens Are Rooting for Houston Texans

Dan RenfroCorrespondent IIIJanuary 2, 2012

BALTIMORE - DECEMBER 11:  Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens runs the ball against the Indianapolis Colts at M&T Bank Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Colts 24-10. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
Larry French/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens do not want to face the Pittsburgh Steelers again, so they will be cheering for the Houston Texans next Saturday.

It's not that the Ravens are scared of the Steelers; at least they shouldn't be.

They've beaten the Steelers twice, and Pittsburgh isn't at full strength.

Nevertheless, no team wants to face a divisional foe for the third time in a season. The Ravens destroyed the Steelers in Week 1, and they pulled out a win in Week 9.

Still, if the Texans lose, the Ravens might have to face the Steelers in the divisional round of the playoffs. After wild-card weekend, the highest seed remaining will travel to Baltimore.

With the NFL's second-best run defense, the Ravens have no reason to be scared of the Texans. They beat up Houston in Week 6 and held Arian Foster to 49 yards rushing.

If the Texans lose to the Cincinnati Bengals, however, Cincinnati will go to New England and the Ravens will face either the Steelers or the Denver Broncos.

The Ravens need to avoid the Steelers for as long as possible. They could beat them again, but it would be a tough game. The Ravens stand a better chance of beating the Texans then dealing with the New England Patriots or the Steelers in the AFC Title Game.

Yes, the Ravens will have to go through the best teams in the AFC to win the conference. However, it would be advantageous for them to play the Texans and then deal with either the Patriots or Steelers (if either) later on.

The Ravens are a good team, and they can beat anyone in the NFL. However, it would behoove them to have the easiest path to the Super Bowl.

That path would start with the Texans beating the Bengals next week.