Photo Courtesy: USA Today

This Isn’t ‘The Same Old Ravens’ But Their Record May Not Reflect It

October 25, 2018 - 1:20 am

By Joe Schiller 

The Baltimore Ravens were one quarter away from a season-defining victory against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

But a blown 10-point fourth quarter lead and a rare Justin Tucker missed extra point dropped the Ravens to 4-3. And the collapse had many reminiscing about the late game struggles this team has endured over the past three seasons.

The common response: “It’s the same old Ravens.” After recent heart-breaking losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals that resulted in missed postseason berths, the struggles have lingered among fans.

However, this is a better team over than compared to year’s past – but their final record may not reflect that.

Speaking objectively, just look at the numbers. The offense has immensely improved with a new receiving core. Joe Flacco is throwing the ball with confidence and while the run game has struggled at points, the entire offensive unit as a whole is better.

The defense ranks first in total yards allowed per game (280.6) and points allowed per game (14.4). They just held the NFL’s No. 1 offense to just seven points through three quarters.

This unit is legit.

The problem lies in the Ravens’ ability to close games.  Per Jeff Zrebiec, the Ravens have lost five consecutive games decided by three points or less and are 13-22 in one-score games since 2015.

Seven of the final nine games this season come against teams with records of .500 or better. That includes matchups against the Panthers, Steelers, Bengals, Chiefs, and Chargers.

Even the Browns and Buccaneers aren’t considered sure victories.

There’s no luxury of facing a stretch of backup quarterbacks. The Ravens face a crucial stretch of games in the upcoming weeks that will likely determine the outcome of their season.

“We’re fine,” Weddle said. “This isn’t the same Ravens. We’re a tight group – we are light years better than we’ve been in the past.”

I believe this is a team that possesses the talent on both sides of the ball to make a deep playoff run but with given the schedule, they could also go 9-7 or 8-8 and miss out on the postseason.

That’s just the reality of it.