Ravens “Limp” into the playoffs
By Terry Swayne
Three weeks ago, the then 9-2 Baltimore Ravens held the #2 seed in the AFC playoff picture and they controlled their own destiny to keep it. My how quickly things change in the NFL. The Ravens, now 9-5, have lost three straight games and if it weren’t for the Pittsburgh Steelers playing worse, the Ravens may have been on the brink of missing the playoffs all together.
As luck would have it, the Ravens HAVE made the playoffs but are ‘limping” towards the finish line. With two games left to go in the 2012 NFL regular season, the John Harbaugh era has it’s first 3-game losing streak, and it won’t get any easier with the World Champion New York Giants coming to town.
The Ravens are in dire straits at the moment. The defense is riddled with injuries and the offense has been ineffective all season long. The defense has lost CB-Ladarius Webb and now LB-Jameel McCalin for the season. LB-Ray Lewis has missed six games because of a triceps tear Dannell Ellerbe has been out the last three games with a hurt leg, and LB-Terrell Suggs has been ‘gutting it out” and playing in pain all season (first with an Achilles tear and now a biceps tear) and is no where near 100%.
The offense has been inconsistent all year long. The offensive line is giving Joe Flacco no protection and he seems to be very “antsy” in the pocket. Even on plays where he does get protection, he has “happy feet” and hurries his throws far too often. In my opinion, the Ravens need to start Bryant McKinnie at Left Tackle and move Michael Oher back to the right side again. They played much better with that starting line-up last season.
At this point, the Ravens are in the playoffs. So John Harbaugh and company have some major decisions to make. Do you run injured players like Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, and Danell Ellerbe out there for the next two weeks to win the AFC North and try to move up in the seeding; or, do you sit all of your injured guys and give them a two-week breather before the playoffs start? Will those guys benefit from the time off; or, will they be rusty come playoff time? It’s a tough tightrope to walk and it’s one the Ravens brass will have to tackle in the next few days ahead.