Baltimore Ravens: Remaining schedule a gauntlet of challenges
The Baltimore Ravens have effortlessly glided to a 9-2 record, including seven-straight wins, but they’ll have a tough final five games to end 2019 with.
Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens offense look unstoppable. This crushing wave of talent and scheme has the rest of the NFL pleading for mercy. Many are crowning the Ravens as the best team in football right now with some even thinking they might be Super Bowl favorites.
It’s hard not to buy-in to this thought, after all, Baltimore is riding a seven-game win streak and currently have the best offense in football (total yards per game). The defense is riding hot, too, and overall the team looks like a juggernaut.
Unfortunately, it’s a hellish end to the season for Baltimore. The team has two games against teams with winning records and playoff hopes as well as two more vital AFC North division games. It’s not going to be easy to win out, folks, so let’s temper our expectations a bit and realize that this is going to be a bumpy ride to end the season.
Starting with this week’s challenge, the San Francisco 49ers are built tough. Their defense is legit, ranked as the top overall unit in terms of total yards allowed per game. Additionally, they lead the NFL with 44 sacks to go with 11 team interceptions. The unit, captained by Nick Bosa and co., is tough as nails and won’t be a walk in the park for the Baltimore Ravens.
Next up is a road trip to Buffalo, New York to play the Bills, another team that has a dynamic defense. Head coach Sean McDermott is a defensive wizard and has his guys believing they’re the best. With stars like rookie Ed Oliver and Tre’Davious White, Baltimore will have another tough day on the road, in the cold.
After that, the Ravens come back home for a Thursday Night Football match-up with the New York Jets. The Jets are playing hot right now behind the arm of Sam Darnold and it’ll be a short week for Baltimore after having what we can anticipate being a slugfest vs. the Bills. Yes, it’s the Jets, but we can’t afford to overlook anybody… including the Jets.
Baltimore then departs for its last road game of the year to Cleveland, Ohio to face the Browns. One word: payback. This game has been circled on everyone’s calendars since the Ravens got embarrassed by the Browns in Charm City. That won’t happen again, and this time the Ravens will hope to return the favor and blowout the home-team.
Nonetheless, Cleveland is heating up and could start to fight their way back into playoff contention. With fewer mistakes from Baker Mayfield and the defense stepping up, the Browns look dangerous again. However, by this point in the season, Baltimore could be the final nail in their playoff hopes coffin, and nothing would be more satisfying than that.
And finally, we end the year at home vs. the infamous Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh is, well, a beautiful disaster. There’s a lot to like about the team, especially on defense with studs like Devin Bush and Cameron Heyward leading the charge. Baltimore will need to play their best football of the season because God knows Pittsburgh will be playing their hearts out.
As you can see, the ending to the 2019 season will be a difficult one for the Baltimore Ravens. There are no easy outs here and while losing out seems illogical, I can see two, three, maybe even four losses. Lamar Jackson and co. will need to bring their A-game to finish this run if they want to see a deep playoff run in January. The top-seed in the AFC Playoff picture is available, but can the Ravens seize the moment and capture it?