During the dynasty days of the Steelers in the 1970s, colorful rival coach Bum Phillips, then with the Houston Oilers, famously noted that “the road to the Super Bowl goes through Pittsburgh.”
While certainly true of that era, in a larger sense every year, the road to the NFL playoffs — and ultimately to the Super Bowl — goes through December.
All NFL teams know they have to play well down the stretch-run of the schedule if they want to keep playing in January in pro football’s championship tournament.
So, it comes as no shock the team with the best December record since 2017, the Kansas City Chiefs, went to the NFL playoffs all five seasons, including to two Super Bowls, winning one Lombardi Trophy, and making it to the AFC conference title game two more times.
The Chiefs, in December, over the last five seasons were a dominating 20-3, heavy favorites across Maryland sportsbooks.
During the same years, the Baltimore Ravens also put together a solid December record of 18-6.
That happens to be the second-most wins behind only the Chiefs, and it’s tied for third in winning percentage (75%) with Dallas, 15-5.
Green Bay, 16-5, has had the second-best December winning percentage (76.19%).
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Best NFL Teams in the Month of December Since 2017
Recent History Not Always Kind
This season, the Ravens would seem to be in good position across Maryland sports betting apps as December nears. After nine games, they are in first place in the AFC North and at this time, only one remaining opponent has a winning record.
However, Ravens fans may recall recent Decembers and feel a twinge of trepidation, though it's worth noting at BetMGM Maryland Sportsbook they are still the heavy favorites to win the division at -450.
Last season, in particular, the Ravens entered December 8-3 and almost certain to make the playoffs. Again, almost certain.
The Ravens, beset by injuries, staggered through a devastating six-game losing streak, including four defeats in December. The losses were excruciating for fans — five during the losing streak were by a total of eight points.
Prior to the 2021 season, the Ravens were 17-3 in December from 2017 through 2020, but one of those few losses especially haunts Baltimore fans.
In the final game of the 2017 season, on New Year’s Eve, the Ravens needed a win over Cincinnati to make the playoffs. But they were stunned by a 49-yard touchdown pass from Bengals QB Andy Dalton to receiver Tyler Boyd with less than a minute to play that knocked the Ravens out of the post-season.
As a footnote, even looking back to 2016, the Ravens were eliminated from the postseason chase by archrival Pittsburgh, 31-27, on Christmas Day.
So, while the overall win-loss numbers seem to speak well of the Ravens’ penchant for finishing seasons strong, the numbers don’t always tell the whole story of the December fails that have occasionally left Baltimore fans glum.
Should you like the Ravens' odds come December, check back here for the best Maryland sportsbook promos.