The 2016 Baltimore Ravens are having an up and down season. Who are the real Ravens and more importantly, how far can they go?
When the Baltimore Ravens went five straight games without a touchdown in the 2000 season, nobody had them pegged as a Super Bowl contender. The Ravens just rattled off 11 straight wins and a Super Bowl XXXV victory. The 2012 Ravens were left for dead after a three game losing streak that ended in Cam Cameron losing his job as the offensive coordinator. The Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII and they clawed past the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots to do it.
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The moral of this story is not that the 2016 Ravens could be Super Bowl bound. The Ravens are not playing that kind of football. The defense is carrying this team on it’s back. The Ravens offense ranks 24th in the NFL. It seems like it is even worse than that suggests. Joe Flacco and company are surely struggling. The moral of this story is not that the Ravens are contenders for the Lombardi Trophy, but it isn’t over until the Ravens are eliminated.
Six Weeks To Earn A Chance
The point is that just getting into the playoffs will give the Ravens a shot. The Ravens are 5-5 right now. They have four more games to earn a playoff spot. If the Ravens hand the 3-6-1 Bengals a loss on Sunday, it all but wipes them out of the race for the division crown. If Baltimore can win on Sunday, they will once again be in first place. The Christmas day showdown between the Ravens and the Steelers could very well decide the winner of the AFC North.
The Ravens don’t have a realistic chance of making the playoffs as a wild card team. The AFC West has three teams with seven or more wins). The Ravens schedule is brutal. They have a game against the Bengals. They then have to play a tough Miami Dolphins. Next they tango with the New England Patriots. The Philadelphia Eagles are no cakewalk either. Finally the Ravens play the Steelers on Christmas and the Bengals in week 17.
The Bottom Line:
The Ravens have to get to 9-7 to have a realistic chance. That means the Ravens have to win four more games to have a chance. The Ravens have to win the next two games. If we peg the Patriots game as a loss, the cost of a loss to the Bengals or Dolphins would be astronomically huge. The next two are games the Ravens must win. That sets up a situation where they probably only need to win two of the last four games. There is no around it though, the Ravens cannot afford to lose to the Steelers on the holiday.
If the Ravens can win four of the last six games they can make the playoffs. If the Ravens make the playoffs, anything is possible. The Ravens don’t exactly look like a Super Bowl caliber team, but the playoffs gives 12 teams a chance to get hot at the right moment. The Ravens must position themselves to be one of those 12 teams.