Someone give me whatever juice the Baltimore Ravens are drinking. The rumblings coming out of the team today do not make sense for a team that is 2-6 entering the bye week and dealing with a rash of injuries to some of the key players of the franchise. Yet, some members of the team think that this squad is capable of going 8-0 the rest of the way and make the playoffs.
“We’re trying to make history and just win all of the rest of our games,” Timmy Jernigan said.
In a piece by Jamison Hensley, he explains just how that is possible. The Ravens will play five of their final eight games in Baltimore, where they hold the third-best record since 2008. Those five teams (Jaguars, Rams, Seahawks, Chiefs and Steelers) are 6-13 on the road so far this season. In all, the second-half opponents have a combined record of 25-31, and only the Rams and Cincinnati Bengals currently sport winning records. So yes, the numbers above do give the Ravens a glimmer of hope.
The Ravens did manage to get a much-needed win over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday to end some of the bleeding. Following three straight losses in the weeks prior, it was huge for John Harbaugh’s group to enter the bye week with some momentum.
Is it possible? Sure. Anything is possible in the NFL. The chances are minimal, however, as only eight team have won every game in the second half of the season since 2005. And with only five teams with winning records in the AFC, the Ravens are not mathematically eliminated yet.
Now let me be the voice of reason. There is ZERO chance that this team is capable of winning out. NONE.
Earlier in the season, I asked if this was the worst team in franchise history and whether the current wide receiving corps is the same. Through the first half of the season, they have done little to change my mind. In fact, things continue to get worse.
The offense has been adequate this season despite all the blame that new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman has taken all season long. They have tallied over 350 yards of offense in all but two games this season. It is not his fault that the personnel he is working with makes it easy for defenses to slow them down.
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The problem is with Steve Smith Sr. out for the remainder of the season with a torn Achilles tendon, the Ravens offense presents no real threat. When an opposing defensive coordinator is preparing for this game, who scares you? Justin Forsett has shown flashes of being the player he was last season in which he accumulated 1,529 yards from scrimmage. But without Smith on the outside, defenses are going to stack the box and force the receivers to make plays.
The defense has done little to give you hope also. They are surprisingly ranked in the top-10 in sacks despite missing Terrell Suggs, but rank 25th in total defense and dead last in turnovers. A team that was once one of the more opportunistic defenses in football has not recorded a turnover since Week 3 against the Bengals. Colin Kaepernick torched the Ravens secondary only to be benched by San Francisco 49ers this week.
This team is missing a leader. Someone to step up and take control of this team when things go wrong. Smith was that man on offense and Suggs on defense. No one has taken over those leadership roles, and there really is not a candidate to do so on this roster unless it is the quarterback. However, Joe Flacco is not the in-your-face type of guy that is going to get this team fired up moving forward.
Now, let’s take a real look at the upcoming opponents. Sure, the Rams and Bengals are the only two teams currently with winning records, but the Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers each own a .500 record. The Dolphins and Chiefs have each gotten off to a poor start and had lofty expectations like the Ravens. The Browns have already beaten the Ravens in Baltimore and the Jaguars are no longer the laughingstock in the league.
The Ravens allowed a 49ers team that is in total disarray look pretty formidable. The Seahawks shredded that same Niners team just a few days later. The Browns came to M&T Bank and beat the Ravens and needed a last second field goal to beat the Chargers. These teams are not exactly the cream of the crop and the Ravens have struggled with them.
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If there is one thing we can count on it is that Harbaugh will have his team continue to fight all season. He thinks his team will win the next game, and then the game after that. So does he really think they can go 8-0 in the second half of the season and be the first team to make the playoffs after starting 1-6? He is not backing down from it.
“That’s the objective — to win the next game. And our objective is going to be to win the next game. Are we going to define ourselves and say we can’t win every game going forward? There’s absolutely no way we’ll say that. Everybody else can say it. We’ll let them say it. But, like I think he said really well, for whatever challenges are in front of us, we’re just the men for the job.”
The talk of the Ravens being the worst team in the NFL is far-fetched. The 49ers are a mess. The Tennesee Titans fired Ken Whisenhunt today. The Detroit Lions have only won one game. The Houston Texans and Chicago Bears have been abysmal this year.
I am not ready to put the Ravens in the same class as those teams. This franchise is having one down season, while the aforementioned teams have been perennial losers. Baltimore is not fielding the most talented bunch right now, but they are capable of turning it around before those other teams.
But as far as this season goes, the idea of winning out is ludicrous. This team has given us little reason to believe that is possible. I am struggling to figure out if they will even be able to get six wins total this season. I can see wins against the Jags and Browns, and maybe squeaking past the Chiefs and Dolphins. I cannot imagine them beating the Rams, Seahawks and Bengals, however.
The Ravens are currently lacking a player that keeps opposing coaches up at night and have not shown us that they can win as a team. Can they shock us all and make the historic run? Sure. Just don’t count on it.