After the Ravens Week 9 defeat at Tennessee, my Twitter timeline was peppered with perturbed fans who questioned my sanity and judgement for suggesting that even with a 4-5 record following that loss, the Ravens were still in good shape to make the playoffs. In fact, I stated, they’re a favorite.
The Twitter storm coming at me included:
“Season over. John has to go. Ozzie must go too.”
“Hope? How much did WJZ pay you for that. LOL. Get real.”
“This team isn’t going anywhere.”
What followed that was a Ravens bye week during which three of the teams ahead of them in the playoff race lost, then a Ravens win at Green Bay (while more teams ahead of them lost again).
And with that victory, and all those losses by the “competition,” the Ravens moved easily into the second wild card spot in the AFC. And with the easiest remaining schedule among contenders- the expert number crunchers in Vegas have the Ravens as a 75 percent probability of earning a playoff spot.
Now, I’m not one to say “I told ya so” but I am one who will take the opportunity to remind fans of the most over-looked virtues in taking in a sports season: Patience and perspective.
Perspective comes into significant play in the Ravens playoff pursuit. At 5-5, they are the epitome of “average” but with four of their remaining six games against mediocre/bad opponents (which Green Bay was, too) Baltimore is favored to pile up the wins necessary to clinch a playoff spot.
Perspective: in a league full of mediocre and poor teams, the Ravens don’t need to be great- just better than the other mediocre and bad teams.
On the subject of patience, we talk about it every year during the baseball campaign: “it’s a loooong season” and it really is: 162 games over six months – no other sport comes close.
The NFL season is long, too, but in a different manner. Sixteen games is a LOT of football. Maybe too much considering the brutal nature of the sport.
What really makes the football season long (in my opinion) is the time BETWEEN games- typically Sunday to Sunday. And how do we fill all that time? We talk about, critique, praise, analyze and debate our teams…endlessly, repeatedly, tirelessly talking in circles, regurgitating the last game because there’s no fresh meat to gnaw until the next game.
The process lends itself to fits of overreaction, over-zealousness, over-statement….I know, I’m over it. It’s what keeps sports talk radio going during football season (I’m quite familiar, I used to do a daily show and I remain a regular guest on our local shows).
Don’t overthink it. Keep an eye on the big picture- especially when that picture includes a schedule ahead of down-trodden, weak and injured opponents with back-up QBs.
The Ravens are in comparatively good shape. I see them likely to finish with at least nine wins, which will likely earn them a playoff spot in the muddled AFC.
Should be an interesting, fun finish. Buckle up, keep perspective and maintain some patience. We’ll see where this ride goes, one painstaking week at a time.