Ravens Must Beat Browns to Retain Playoff Chance, But Will They?


Dec 21, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Fitzgerald Toussaint (43) rushes during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. The Texans defeated the Ravens 25-13. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens were in a great spot headed into week 16.  They controlled their destiny in regards to the playoffs, they were merely a half game out of first place in the AFC North, and they were going to face a 4th string quarterback against a team with slim playoff hopes.  My how quickly things change.

Regardless of how the Browns are playing, the fact remains that this Ravens team has regressed sharply the last three weeks.

The Ravens didn’t look like a playoff team for the second straight week in a game they were absolutely dominated in, at least offensively speaking.  One could reasonably argue that they don’t deserve to make the playoffs, or that they would be easy first round prey if they do indeed secure a Wild Card spot.

In order to do that, the Ravens must beat the Cleveland Browns in week 17, no matter what happens.  They still may not get in, but they no longer have the luxury of worrying about things beyond the team’s control.  The Ravens simply have to take care of business, at home, against a Browns team that has already been eliminated from playoff contention.

If you expect the Browns to lie down and take a loss, however, you haven’t been paying attention.  The hype surrounding one Johnny Manziel was obviously premature, but a “Johnny Football” injury in week 16 led to the reinsertion of Brian Hoyer and a near victory against the Panthers.

More from Ebony Bird

Regardless of how the Browns are playing, the fact remains that this Ravens team has regressed sharply the last three weeks.  It all came to a head against the Texans, when they simply looked like a bad football team.  While teams with no playoff hopes continue to fight every week (i.e. Raiders, Bucs, Browns, Redskins, Jaguars), the Ravens looked like they had no fight in a game that could have gone a long way in sealing up a playoff berth.

So forgive me if I have my doubts that the Ravens can secure a win Sunday against the Browns.  I was fairly convinced that they would get the job done against the Texans, one week after they barely defeated the Jaguars.  There is no doubt that this team has the talent and the ability to be one deserving of a playoff bid.  The real question is whether or not they can just put together a good, single game performance at this point.