I may be looking too far into why the Ravens have lost four games — all on the road, mind you — this season, but I may have something here: Uniform combinations.
I’m a huge fan of uniforms and pay close attention to all that I see when I watch a game. I love what college football has been doing with the Nike Pro Combat uniforms. I love all the other alternates jersey combinations that a team has at its disposal. I’m a firm believer in when a big game (prime time, rivalry, etc.) comes up on the schedule, teams should delve into their team closets and break out some of the uniforms that don’t get often worn. I hate when teams have alternate jerseys, but never wear them. What’s the point of having them? Anyway, I’m a huge fan of what the Ravens do with their uniform combinations. They use all the different looks available to them throughout the season and, when they choose to wear a certain combination, it makes sense for the game.
Back on Oct. 2, Baltimore broke out the all black uniforms against the Jets in a night game. On Thanksgiving, another prime time game, the Ravens wore black jerseys with white plants. Two examples of great uses of uniform combinations. But as I look over the 15 games of the season, one jersey combination is not like the others. The white-on-white combination. Check out Baltimore’s records in its different combinations:
Black-on-black; black-on-white; purple-on-black: 3-0.
The only jersey combination that has brought Baltimore a losing record is the white-on-white. Granted, it also brought the Ravens plenty to cheer about on Nov. 6 (a 23-20 win in Pittsburgh), but that’s it. The other two times Baltimore wore the all-white look was at Seattle (L, 22-17) and at San Diego (L, 34-14). The one parallel in the two losses — and all four for the matter — was the lacking usage of Ray Rice. But for the point of this post we’re looking at it from purely an aesthetic standpoint.
With the Bengals on tap for Sunday, I expect them to wear their traditional home uniforms that would force the Ravens to wear the white jersey at least. As for the pants, I vote for black. A) it looks better, B) the Ravens have played better in the white-on-black combo and C) John Harbaugh already said he considers this week to be the playoffs, so why not look at the entire body of work and see what has worked best. Even if it makes me feel a quarter of a percent better, I’d prefer to go with the jersey combination that Baltimore’s 2-1 than 1-2 in.
Obviously, the uniforms the Ravens choose to wear don’t mean as much as how they choose to play. I agree with Joe Flacco that the Ravens’ offense was conservative last week. That needs to change. Winning on Sunday means at least one home playoff game and possibly home-field advantage if Tom Brady and the Pats lose to Buffalo. Baltimore needs to win this game more than Cincy. The Bengals are an overachieving team who should be happy to be in the playoff hunt. Baltimore was once that team in 2008. Now it’s 2011 and anything less than a Super Bowl run would leave most saying the Ravens underachieved this year. I’d be one of them.
Even though the final score is the only thing that matters Sunday evening, I felt the records the Ravens have posted in their different uniform combinations was worth noting. Regardless, the white-on-black still gets my vote.