OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As a reward for going 12-4 and winning the AFC North, the Baltimore Ravens got to watch football over the weekend instead of playing it.
It was a luxury they did not take for granted.
In each of the previous three years, the Ravens reached the playoffs as a wild-card team. That meant they had to play on the road during the opening weekend of the postseason.
This year, Baltimore got to rest during wild-card weekend. The time off proved beneficial; coach John Harbaugh said Monday that everyone on the team is healthy enough to play on Sunday, when the Ravens launch their playoff push at home against the Houston Texans (11-6).
Ravens center Matt Birk says the bye enabled the team to regroup, and the players came back "rejuvenated."