Analyzing the Ravens From Three Points of View
In this article we analyze the Ravens from three different points of view.
The Ravens are currently the 6th seed in the playoffs if the season ended today. They control their own destiny and being in the driver seat is a good place to be.
This Ravens defense has posted three shutouts in 10 games this year. Two shutouts in the last three games played. Looking at historically great defenses, the 85’ Bears only notched two regular season shutouts. The 2013 Seahawks, just one. The 2000 Ravens, four of them and this squad has the opportunity to match or exceed that.
The defense is so good that the offense doesn’t need to do much but manage games. Just like the 2000 Ravens blueprint. Sundays win in Green Bay was a game managed win with minimal offensive mistakes, just one, and defensive dominance.
Forget the naysayers that say there aren’t playmakers on this team. Alex Collins just needs the ball more as he is one of the leaders in the NFL in yards per carry and has a trend of being better in that department later in games. Looks like his fumbling issues have been addressed as well if you saw the graphic during the Packers game showing his new style of carrying the ball. There’s also Danny Woodhead’s return, a guy who fits this scheme like a glove.
Say what you want about the draft and missing on guys like Breshad Perriman and Matt Elam that set this team back. Jimmy Smith is about to be an All-Pro. That’s a 1st rounder they didn’t miss on. The last two 1st round picks, Ronnie Stanley and Marlon Humphrey, are looking really, really good. Ozzie finds the best guys from the small schools in Brandon Williams and Matt Judon. In a re-draft these guys might have been taken much higher than where they were in the 3rd and 5th rounds respectively.
This Ravens team is just a few bad bounces away from beating the Bears, from beating the Titans, and possibly being a 7-3 team. At 7-3, they would be contenders for the division and solidly in the wild card rather than owning a couple tiebreakers for the last spot. This team is on it’s way to bigger and better things and appear better than their record suggests.
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How on Earth are the Ravens the 6th seed in the playoffs? The rest of the league is this bad? We’ve seen a .500 team win a poor division. But a .500 team in the wild card where the good but not best teams land? A 16-team conference is only going to have 5 teams over .500? The Ravens are not good and look at the playoff picture, they would have to play Jacksonville in the first round if it started today. The same Jacksonville that wiped the floor with them in week 3, 44-7. The same Jacksonville team that even in their down years play the Ravens really, really well. They have a pulse on something going on here.
The Ravens posted three shutouts…against what turned out to be a bad Bengals team they had months to prepare for. Also Matt Moore and Brett Hundley. Couldn’t slow down Marcus Mariota, Case Keenum, Blake Bortles, and Mitchell Trubisky though? C’mon. Stop the comparisons to the 2000 team. Against that slate of QBs, the 2000 team would have 5 shutouts by now, and probably get a few more when they get to Tom Savage and Jacoby Brissett.
Joe Flacco has to get better. Forget the game manager stuff. He’s been around 10 years and we’re still talking about “should he have free reign of the offense” like this is 2009. Joe is getting paid the most money and while this poor season isn’t all his fault, he should carry a lot of the blame. Some boneheaded decisions have turned the tide of a couple games. Chiefs QB Alex Smith is the epitome of game manager. He’s not going to turn the ball over. He’s not going to take over a game either. Relies heavily on his game-breakers Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Kareem Hunt. You know. Guys with a talent level the Ravens don’t have. Trent Dilfer game managing to a Super Bowl was the exception. Not the norm. Alex Smith, despite the freefall the Chiefs are in, doesn’t have a great playoff record either. Game managers are ok. But I want the gunslinger who you can never count out. Joe Flacco used to be that. Where did he go? What happened to the Joe Flacco that said he thought he was the best QB in the game, only to go on to win Super Bowl MVP later that season. The Joe Flacco we have now says, “Well, I suck.” C’mon man!
The Ravens are lucky to be 5-5 with this roster and that is an indictment on the front office. Even without the injuries they abandoned the upgrades needed on the offensive line. They slipped tripped and fell into Alex Collins, or else the running game would be abysmal. What if the Bears didn’t release him? When he entered the game back in week 2, it didn’t even cross our minds that he was on the team. That’s who the feature back is? That’s who the Ravens want to funnel the offense through?
This Ravens team has benefitted from a favorable schedule. Without a Dolphins team in turmoil, Aaron Rodgers being out for the Packers, E.J Manuel playing for the Raiders, this team is closer to 2-8 than 5-5. Certainly not worthy of 7-3.
And don’t even get me started on the coaching staff. Coach Harbaugh spending timeouts like you get 100 of them. Coach Mornhinweg, who is a dunce of a coach historically, with his ridiculous game plans that don’t exploit any weaknesses in opposing teams. Coach Pees who unless his unit pitches a shutout, still can’t close out a game.
What’s the point? They just aren’t good. Finishing 8-8, or 9-7 will just be a shiny bow on a turd. They need better draft picks. Tank for the draft pick since you aren’t real contenders in this watered down AFC. Get a real QB, unapologetically sacrifice 2018, clean house, go for it all with a new regime in 2019.
The forward thinker
The Ravens are 5-5, they are the 6th seed in the playoffs, and they shouldn’t have to apologize to anyone for it. You don’t have to hit statistical benchmarks, or play teams of a certain rank like in college football to get into January. You just have to get there. Then as we have seen, anything can happen.
Baltimore will host Houston without J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson on Monday. DeAndre Hopkins is also questionable, so this should be another win in similar fashion to last weekends game in Green Bay.
Then they will enter their two toughest tests of the remaining schedule. Hosting Detroit and going on the road at Pittsburgh. Detroit poses a threat as Matt Stafford is one of the more competent quarterbacks the Ravens will have faced. They also just signed Dwight Freeny, an All-Pro pass rusher who despite being father time, will have fresh legs against a not so great Ravens O-line. Darius Slay is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL and so the Ravens will have to rely on getting the running the game rolling. Will Mornhinweg do that there, or just ignore it and let Joe Flacco target him all day? He has a history of this, targeting Joe Haden often when we would see the Browns a lot. A history of not accounting for Troy Polomalu when we see the Steelers a lot. The Lions also come in on a mini-bye playing on turkey day.
Pittsburgh owned the Ravens 26-9 in Baltimore earlier in the year. You can usually take everything you think you know about each team and throw it out the window for these matchups.
At this point if you beat the Texans like you should. Then split two tough games in Detroit and Pittsburgh, the Ravens could find themselves at 7-6.
With three games to go, they start the final stretch at Cleveland. You can’t sleep on that game. The Browns might be 0-13, but they will treat the Ravens game as their Super Bowl. It’s only a matter of time until they find a win as it is very hard to go 0-16. A home game, against a hated rival, having played some games somewhat close, maybe they find a way. But if you are the Ravens you cannot lose this game.
They finish with two home games. The first being against the Colts with nothing to play for and one offensive weapon in T.Y. Hilton. A guy if you look at his game log is either an All-Pro, or all but absent. Don’t let him look like an All-Pro. The second bringing the season full circle as the finish where they started, against the Bengals. The all important 10th win of the season might be on the line here. The Bengals have nothing to play for, but would love to play spoiler. A.J. Green has a history of big, big games against the Ravens. Always rumored “is this it for Marvin Lewis”, if this is the Bengals long time head coaches last game, do the players play out of their minds for him? Against the team that he made a name for himself with? Scary game. But a game that if they don’t take care of business like a playoff team would leading up to it, won’t matter one bit.