Baltimore Ravens: Can they survive December?


Jan 3, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) is sacked by Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw (91) and Ravens outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (58) in the fourth quarter in the 2014 AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Heinz Field. The Ravens won 30-17. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into December of 2014, the Ravens were literally playing for their playoff lives.  With four games to go, a tough home loss to the Chargers left the team with a respectable 7-5 record.  But they were looking at a tough race to grab a Wild Card spot and an uphill climb for the AFC North title after falling 1.5 games behind the Bengals.

Then, December came to the rescue.  The Ravens won 3 of 4 over the final month of the season, clinching a playoff berth.  They grabbed a decisive road victory in Miami by defeating the Dolphins 28-13, and took care of the Jaguars at home 20-12 the following week.  The Texans handed the Ravens their only loss of the month the next week in Houston, a 25-13 contest that deflated their hopes slightly.

The Ravens faced a must-win at home against the Browns in week 17, and responded by producing a 20-10 victory.  It was enough to propel a shaky looking squad to a Wild Card win against the Steelers, and the Ravens came up just short of defeating the eventual Super Bowl champion Patriots.

Will the Ravens face a similar fight to the finish in 2015?  The schedule is by no means easy in any given month, but December is looking much harder this season than it did on paper last season.  Instead of facing the likes of the Jaguars and Browns, they must take on some serious competition: the Dolphins, Seahawks, Chiefs, and Steelers, respectively.

The good news is, only the Dolphins game occurs outside of the friendly confines of M&T Bank Stadium. But that doesn’t mean things are going to be easy.  The Dolphins are a much different team than they were last season, if for no other reason than picking up Ndamukong Suh in free agency.  And we all know that the rest of the group contains no pushovers.

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To top things off, the Ravens finish their season by traveling to Cincinnati to face the Bengals (in January).  The NFL is obviously taking advantage of the fantastic finish of the AFC North last season by setting up a two game finale that could very well decide the division and at least one Wild Card spot. Great for fans, tough for these teams.

So two things are clear, if nothing else: the Ravens must either carry a sizable division lead heading into December, or they must take care of business in December.  Both are easier said than done, but it’s not like this team hasn’t overcome similar resilience in the past.

Next: Ravens 2015 schedule game-by-game predictions

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