by Mark VivianoBy Mark Viviano

The Ravens beat the Texans on Monday night football but the victory hardly inspired enthusiasm and confidence in the Ravens fan base.

Yes, the Ravens were expected to beat both Green Bay and Houston — each with back-up QB’s — and the Ravens did what was anticipated. With two straight wins they improved their record to 6-5, good enough for the 2nd AFC wild card spot right now.

Yet listening to Baltimore sports talk radio and reading fan musings on social media- it’s almost like the Ravens lost, or that some fans don’t believe the Ravens are playoff “worthy.”

Much of that has to do with Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense who continue to struggle and were described on the national ESPN broadcast as “dreadful.” Flacco himself continues to voice his frustration and after the Monday night victory he openly questioned whether the Ravens stand a chance to accomplish much in the playoffs with the offense as it is. Flacco knows he and his teammates must improve (or change their game plan), but week to week there are no signs of that happening. Hence the frustration and negativity.

I get it. The Ravens are ranked near the bottom of the NFL in offense, even “mediocre” would be an upgrade. But don’t forget, there are three facets to the team on the field: offense, defense and special teams.

While the offense is lagging, the Ravens defense is strong and the special teams are among the best in the NFL. Two out of three ain’t bad, in fact two out of three will get the Ravens into the playoffs.

Aha- but once the Ravens reach the post-season they’re doomed, right? Maybe, but who really knows?

They’re not there yet and with five games to go (with the Ravens favored to win four of the five- the exception being at Pittsburgh) Flacco and the offense have time to improve. I wouldn’t expect anything dramatic or earth-shattering, but it shouldn’t take much to step up from “dreadful.” And if they do, remember the Ravens are looking at a road playoff game at either Tennessee, Jacksonville, Kansas City or maybe even the L.A. Chargers. Do any of those opponents seem insurmountable to the Ravens? I know- they’ve already lost at Tennessee and were blown out by Jacksonville in London but those games mean nothing in January. None of those opponents are particularly impressive or unbeatable (though the Chargers seem to be surging) and all of them fit the mold of mediocrity that is the AFC this year (Ravens included).

So, get in an take a shot. Isn’t that why they play the season- to see who’s best in January? I realize I’m getting ahead of the game but with all of the negative commentary surrounding the Ravens after a win- some perspective can cast a different light on what’s potentially ahead. And the Ravens making the playoffs seems quite likely (73% probability say the stat crunchers at ESPN, if you’re into that).

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