Ravens in Playoffs (For Now), But Can We Take Them Seriously?

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The Baltimore Ravens don’t shock any of a AFC’s tip teams, and a intensity postseason coming will usually lead to a inevitable: losing to a New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers or a pretender Jacksonville Jaguars. 

The Ravens softened to 9-6 with Saturday’s 23-16 feat over a Indianapolis Colts during MT Bank Stadium. Baltimore controls a destiny and will seem in a playoffs with a feat subsequent weekend opposite a Cincinnati Bengals. 

The trail appears clear, yet it’s a passed end. 

New England and Pittsburgh exaggerate higher offenses, while a Jaguars underline a standout invulnerability and top-notch rushing attack. 

The Ravens’ mixed shortcomings leave them outward a area of legitimate contenders. It starts with quarterback Joe Flacco, extends to a offense’s miss of playmakers and ends with an above-average yet not widespread invulnerability buoyed by an considerable turnover margin. 

The organisation has played good given a Week 10 bye, yet it’s all relative. The Indianapolis Colts were within distinguished widen and had an event to tie a diversion on their final drive. 

“It was not a best-played diversion by us,” conduct manager John Harbaugh said, per ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley. “We done a series of mistakes, starting with me.”

The good and bad any presented itself during Saturday’s contest. 

Overall, a Ravens are 5-1 down a stretch, that puts them in playoff position. However, Baltimore usually won a singular diversion opposite an competition with an above-.500 record, violence a 8-6 Detroit Lions 44-20 in Week 13. 

The one detriment during the aforementioned span came opposite a Steelers. Baltimore forsaken both games to Pittsburgh and authorised Ben Roethlisberger to chuck for 722 sum flitting yardsincluding a 506-yard bid Dec. 10. 

The Ravens register is inherently harmed with Flacco behind center. Granted, he’s played good of late, as ESPN Stats Info illustrated: 

While Flacco isn’t creation mistakes, he’s not stuffing that stat sheet, either.

The 10-year maestro has nonetheless to obscure 300 flitting yards in a game. He entered Saturday’s competition with an NFL-worst 5.82 yards per attempt. Even over a final 4 games, he’s averaged 7.04 yards per attempt—which would usually be good adequate to tie for 19th if that were his series on a season. 

The problem with a Ravens’ 29th-ranked flitting offense is twofold. 

Flacco isn’t pulling a round downfield, and he struggles with bouts of oversight due to bad mechanics. Not all of this is his fault, though. 

Baltimore’s far-reaching receivers are poor. The Ravens were among 4 offenses that gained reduction yardage from their wideouts than a Steelers’ Antonio Brown constructed by himself streamer into this weekend’s contests (1,533), per ESPN

Mike Wallace leads a organisation with 708 receiving yards and is 37th altogether in yardage. The 31-year-old’s also been a squad’s many unchanging performer in new weeks. 

Baltimore Ravens far-reaching receiver Mike Wallace creates a locate opposite Indianapolis Colts linebacker Barkevious Mingo.Nick Wass/Associated Press

Otherwise, a Ravens have gotten subsequent to zero from 2015 first-round collect Breshad Perriman. He grabbed dual receptions for 14 yards opposite a Colts. Sadly, it was his third-best opening of a season. 

Jeremy Maclin missed Saturday’s diversion with a knee injury. 

If not for Michael Campanaro’s six-yard touchdown reception, no one would have famous any Ravens far-reaching receivers took a field. 

A widespread front could assistance all of this. Yet a descent line doesn’t reason adult to inspection. The organisation mislaid 3 starters this year with John Urschel’s unexpected Jul retirement as good as injuries to Marshal Yanda (fractured ankle) and Alex Lewis (torn labrum). Ryan Jensen, Matt Skura and Austin Howard are starting in their places.

Overall, a section could be many worse, deliberation a circumstances. However, Colts outward linebacker Jabaal Sheard terrorized Flacco, per Pro Football Focus: 

Sheard is a plain dilemma defender, yet he’s not a standout.

What happens when a Ravens front faces Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Calais Campbell or Yannick Ngakoue again? It won’t be pretty. In fact, Heyward managed a span of sacks a final time a Ravens faced a Steelers, and a Jaguars knocked Flacco out of a diversion when a teams met in London. 

Defensively, a Ravens lead a NFL with 33 turnovers and arrange eighth in sum defense. 

But this isn’t a Baltimore of yesteryear. It’s not an strenuous organisation featuring Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Terrell Suggs can still move it, yet he’s 35 years old. Plus, a organisation mislaid a best cover dilemma when it placed Jimmy Smith on harmed haven in early Dec due to a torn left Achilles tendon. 

Suggs and Co. authorised 296 yards to a NFL’s 31st-ranked offense and forsaken a span of certain interceptions Saturday. 

“We didn’t play a ideal game, yet we did adequate to win,” a maestro linebacker said, per Hensley. “Next week, we’re going to need to play ideal [against Cincinnati].”

Baltimore Ravens conduct manager John HarbaughGail Burton/Associated Press

Harbaugh echoed Suggs’ sentiment, per a Baltimore Sun‘s Jeff Zrebiec, “It wasn’t a best diversion by a defense, yet we done a play when we indispensable it most.”

After all, a Colts were 10 yards divided from restraining things and forcing overtime. In a end, a Ravens valid to be a improved team. 

They won’t be a improved organisation when a playoffs arrive, though.

The bottom half of a AFC postseason design is ugly. The Kansas City Chiefs are 3-6 given their 5-0 start. Neither a 8-6 Buffalo Bills nor a 8-6 Tennessee Titans have any domain for error. 

However, a tip of a AFC is stacked, and everybody else is personification to get into meetings with a tip 3 teams usually to crawl out of a playoffs early. 

Baltimore should be unapproachable of how it saved a campaign. A 4-5 start incited into a 9-6 record, and it will have destiny in a hands subsequent week opposite a opposition Bengals. The fad of another postseason coming is gradual by a subpar offense and a invulnerability that’s not good enough to lift a load, though. 

The NFL doesn’t palm out appearance trophies, and a Ravens aren’t going anywhere of consequence. 


Brent Sobleski covers a NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @brentsobleski.

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