Every team in the league has it’s flaws. Even the 10-1 Houston Texans and 11-1 Atlanta Falcons have flaws. That’s the beauty of the NFL. Even the 18-1 Patriots from a few years back had flaws. So what are the Ravens flaws?
Back in September and October the list may have been lengthy. But as the regular season begins to wind down, the Ravens are much improved and about as good as their 9-2 record suggests. They were not lucky to score 55 against Oakland, or lucky to win on the road in Pittsburgh. Lucky to convert a 4th and 29? Not in my opinion. We’ve seen Ray Rice make plays like that pretty often in the past. Just this time, the game happened to be on the line.
The defense left alot to be desired, especially after allowing 43 points to the Texans in Week 7. However, since that game, the defense has allowed the fewest points per game in the NFL. (14.5 ppg). They are also 4th in NFL and 2nd in the AFC in turnover margin at +12. New England leads with an astounding +24 turnover ratio. The secondary has the third most INTs in the AFC on the season.
On special teams, the Ravens 29 yards per kick return is best in the league. Two kick returns, and a punt return TD (totaling three return TDs for you math majors) is also best in the NFL. Sam Koch is averaging 47 yards per punt. Justin Tucker has only missed two FGs all year, and is 4/4 from over 50 yards. Even an recent finding from Football Outsiders shows the Ravens Special teams as a combined unit is bar none the best, and one of the best the league has seen in quite sometime. I won’t get into the details because it looks very, how you say, sabermetric like? You can check it out yourself.
On the Offense, starting with of course, the quarterback. Joe Flacco currently ranks 11th in passing yards per game at 259. If he keeps up that pace, he’ll finish with 4,145 passing yards. That would have put Joe in 9th best last year, even in this aerial assault era of football we’re in these days. Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, Matt Stafford, Andrew Luck, Matt Schaub, and even Drew Brees, are just a few of the standout names who have thrown more INTs than Flacco (7) has this year. Sure, Flacco has a “stinker” game here and there, but every QB does. Even Drew Brees has as evident by his recent Thursday night match up against the Falcons where he threw five picks and zero touchdowns. Ray Rice, he’s the man. Enough said. 3rd in the NFL in scrimmage yards per game behind Adrian Peterson and Doug Martin. As for the receivers, a lot of people say that they don’t get enough separation. Well, there isn’t a statistic for that. But there is one that says that Ravens receivers rank 5th in the NFL in yards per catch. (12.1). They’re also one of four teams whose receivers haven’t fumbled the football yet. So they’re getting ample yardage when they catch the ball and protecting it well. What more can you ask for from them? It just so happens the Steelers receivers have the most fumbles at 10 with five lost. The offense as a whole scores 25.7 points per game, 9th best.
So the Ravens are playing well in all three facets of the game. I’m not suprised as they go for their fifth win in a row when Pittsburgh rolls into Baltimore on Sunday. You can’t win four or five games in row by getting lucky?
All pieces together, the team seems as good as it gets right now. But like I said, every team has it’s flaws, and it’s a good thing that we have to dig deeper to find them on the Ravens squad.
So where do you think improvements can be made, within the scope of reality, i.e. Cam Cameron just got an extension, so he’s not getting fired.