It’s really hard to hide flaws in today’s NFL, at least for a considerable amount of time. You can get by for a few weeks and win some games. Other teams can stumble late and you can catch lightning in a bottle and even grab a post-season berth. But most teams with flaws don’t win Super Bowls and they don’t last in the post-season, because the competition every week is the best in the league. The question left for the Ravens is this: can they overcome all their flaws and will it be enough to get back to the post-season?
This isn’t college football. There aren’t rankings and wins by one point count just as much as wins by 30. But after 11 games, you know what you are and moreover, you know what your competition is and was. Brandon Weedon, Matt Schaub, Ryan Tannehill, Andy Dalton and Geno Smith are the starting quarterbacks the Ravens have beaten this year in their five wins. In a combined 47 games this season, they have thrown 58 touchdowns and 61 interceptions. They have a combined one playoff win.
Baltimore has also been beaten by the likes of EJ Manual, Jason Campbell and Josh McCown. That should speak volumes to Ravens fans about what the future of this team really is. Manuel is a rookie in Buffalo. Campbell is a journeyman who is the best option in Cleveland. And McCown is a career back up. If you can’t beat Super Bowl caliber quarterbacks, then you aren’t going very far, especially in the post-season.
In the Ravens win over the Jets, they compiled 312 yards but only managed one touchdown. Their play was dominant throughout the game, yet they only lead by six at halftime. When Justin Tucker is the Ravens best offensive weapon, you won’t be playing deep into January. The Ravens defense is good, but it’s not great and certainly can’t slow down top-level quarterbacks and high-powered offenses.
I keep referencing the post-season and Super Bowl because when you build a resume like John Harbaugh and the Ravens have, just making it to the post-season is an accomplishment, but the expectations are higher for this team. You can find all the positives and good things about the win over the Jets, but it doesn’t cover up the bigger problems with this team and that is simply, they don’t have enough horses in the barn to run this race. They still average a league worst 2.9 yards per rush. They lead the NFL in penalties. They struggle to convert third downs. And Joe Flacco is having one of the worst statistical seasons of his career.
The Ravens are 5-6, tied with five other teams for the final playoff spot in the AFC. Despite all that is wrong, the Ravens certainly can still turn this around and get back to the playoffs. A win over the Steelers would go a long way to help that happen, but it’s just delaying the inevitable. Ask yourself this question about a Ravens team that is 1-5 on the road this year: do you seriously envision a scenario where this current Ravens team going on the road, into Indianapolis, New England, Kansas City or Denver and winning a post-season game? That’s pretty much all you need to know.
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