- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Baltimore Ravens have the toughest remaining schedule of all of the contenders for the final wild-card spot in the AFC. The Ravens play division leaders exclusively in the final three weeks of the regular season: at the Detroit Lions, home against the New England Patriots and at the Cincinnati Bengals.
Which one is the toughest? According to readers of the Ravens' blog, it's the home game against the Patriots.
Of the nearly 6,800 votes in the SportsNation poll, 41 percent called the rematch of the past two AFC Championship games the hardest remaining game left on the Ravens' schedule. The regular-season finale at the Bengals finished a close second (38 percent), and Monday night's game at the Lions placed third (21 percent).
Here are selected comments from readers:
Ryan (Boston): Even taking into consideration the loss of Rob Gronkowski and the fact it's a home game, this is still the toughest. Tom Brady probably remembers that AFC Championship loss like it was yesterday, and this has in recent years become one of the better rivalries in the NFL.
Ben (Severna Park, Md.): I believe that it would be the Bengals. Then followed by the Lions and Patriots in that order. The Bengals will be the toughest because they are playing the best football right now out of these three teams and the fact that the game is in Cincinnati.
Steve (Piscataway, N.J.): I believe the Detroit game is the key. New England is at home, and if they win this week they wrap up their division, I wonder about their motivation. Seeding is still up for grabs, but not over resting injured players. I would also argue that the Bengals might be in a similar position the last week. We need to win in the Motor City -- period!
Eric (McLean, Va.): The easiest game in my opinion is easily the Patriots, just because it is at home. Baltimore is a different team at home, not to mention the Ravens have never won a road game with an NFC North opponent and lost both road games they have played in the division so far.
John (West Chester, Pa.): Wouldn't you think the Bengals would be the toughest game? The Bengals beat New England and Detroit. Makes the most sense that, if there is anything on the line in the last game, this would be the toughest.
Chris (Dauphin, Pa.): The Ravens' toughest game is always the next one!