The Baltimore Ravens control their destiny and 9-7 could be good enough for a wild-card spot and a playoff berth.
It’s crazy to think about, but could the Baltimore Ravens snag a wild-card spot in the AFC? Basing it on the play last week against the Texans, for most people, this would be a tough question to answer. It’s primarily because of how poorly this offense has played on a consistent basis this season. But, the Ravens are still above .500 with five games remaining in the 2017 season. The rest of the schedule doesn’t look all that tough and they can control their own destiny.
So, you’re telling me there’s a chance?
Back in March, ESPN released the 2017 strength of schedule. The Ravens were ranked 24th on the list. You would think with the schedule they’ve had this season they would be in a more comfortable position to get a playoff berth. But, the hiccups they’ve had this season has made their window that much tighter for late season margin of error.
What hiccups may you ask? The blowout in London versus the Jaguars. The loss to the Bears where rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky completed just eight passes. The loss at home versus the Steelers, where the Ravens could only put up nine total points. These are just a few.
The Ravens’ final five games come against the Lions, Steelers, Browns, Colts, and Bengals. Looking at the last three games, those games alone should put the Ravens at 9-7. They’ve already beat the Browns and the Bengals in the first two games of the season. With Jacoby Brissett still starting under center for the Colts, they shouldn’t be that big of an obstacle for this Ravens defense. With how deep the secondary is and how exceptional the pass rush has been playing, led by what seems to be a 28-year-old Terrell Suggs, the Ravens should be fine.
The Lions and the Steelers are where it gets fishy. Both are toss-up games and both teams are likely playoff bound. Winning either game isn’t in the Ravens favor with the way the offense has played. Winning one of those games could be pivotal if a team like the Buffalo Bills or the San Diego Chargers somehow spark a run themselves.
So, what has to happen?
One thing that must change is the offensive play calling and that falls on the shoulders of Marty Mornhinweg and head coach John Harbaugh. The play calling has been all over the place and they still haven’t found any sort of identity. The two have to find a happy medium with the pass and the run to get going at least a mediocre offense, not second to last.
Statistically, this might be Joe Flacco’s worst season thus far. Now I get the standpoint and the argument that it’s not all Joe’s fault. General manager Ozzie Newsome hasn’t exactly given Joe the pieces to win. I have been on that boat myself but when you’re one of the highest paid quarterbacks in the league and a former Super Bowl MVP, that can’t be your only excuse.
The Ravens need that Joe Flacco that comes alive in the second half of the season if they expect to get a wild-card spot. The Joe Flacco and the offense that has shown up so far this season isn’t going to get the ball rolling and that has to change.