Despite struggling immensely during the first half of the season, the Ravens still believe that they can go 8-0 over the course of the season and refuse to give up. Let's take a look at the first eight games of the Ravens season and see if that's realistic.
The Ravens defense had their best game of the season, as Peyton Manning was sacked four times and Jimmy Smith intercepted Peyton Manning and ran it back for a touchdown. Unfortunately the Ravens had just as bad of a day on offense, as Joe Flacco was constantly pressured all day and the Ravens couldn't get anything going. Aqib Talib would take a Joe Flacco interception back to the house late in the game to give Denver the lead. The Ravens tried to rally late in the game, but Joe Flacco's fourth down pass was intercepted in the endzone. The Ravens lost 13-19.
The Ravens completely did a 180 on both sides of the ball. The offense was electrifying, as Joe Flacco threw two touchdown passes, both to Crockett Gillmore, and Lorenzo Taliaferro added another one on the ground. Unfortunately the defense was unable to stop the Raiders offense from scoring four touchdowns, including the game winner to Seth Roberts with 26 seconds left. The Ravens lost 33-37
The Ravens started out slow in the game and were trailing by 14 in the second quarter. The offense started heating up when Joe Flacco connected with Steve Smith for a 50 yard touchdown. In the third quarter Elvis Dumervil would sack Andy Dalton and force a fumble that C.J. Mosley ran back for a touchdown. Unfortunately the defense would give the lead right back to the Bengals as Andy Dalton threw an 80 yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green on the very next play. Joe Flacco would connect with Steve Smith again in the fourth quarter to give the Ravens the lead with 4:03 left in the game. The defense would blow the lead again, allowing the Bengals to score a touchdown in less than two minutes. The Ravens were unable to go down the field and score and they would lose the game 24-28.
The Ravens defense was able to give Mike Vick trouble, as the Steelers quarterback threw for only 124 yards and one touchdown. Michael Campanaro had a nine yard rushing touchdown and Joe Flacco threw a 15 yard touchown pass to Kamar Aiken. Justin Forsett had an excellent day as he ran for 150 yards off of 27 carries. The Ravens were aided by Josh Scobee failing to kick to field goals that would have won the game for the Steelers, the second of which gave the Ravens the opportunity to go for the game-tying field goal. In overtime the Ravens kicked the game-winning field goal after the Steelers were stopped on fourth down. The Ravens won 23-20
The Ravens defense failed to build off of their solid performance in Week Five, as they blew a 21-9 lead and let the efforts of the Ravens offense go to waste by allowing Josh McCown to throw two touchdowns in the second half and run for another. Joe Flacco ran for two touchdowns and threw an eight yard pass to Kyle Juszczyk. Justin Forsett carried the ball 21 times for 121 yards and a touchdown. The Ravens would lose in overtime, as the Browns offense was able to drive down to the Ravens 15 yard line and kick the game winning field goal. The Ravens lost 30-33
The Ravens struggled again, with Joe Flacco throwing two interceptions and Shareece Wright getting burned twice for touchdowns. The Ravens almost made a comeback, as Joe Flacco threw touchdown passes to Kamar Aiken and Steve Smith, but Joe Flacco's fourth down pass to Steve Smith fell incomplete as time ran out. The Ravens lost 20-25
The Ravens actually had a decent first half and they were in fair position to go on a drive that would take them into half-time either tied for the lead or or solidly in the lead. Unfortunately Jeremy Ross fumbled the Cardinals punt and Arizona took over deep in Ravens territory with 1:26 left in the first half. The Cardinals scored a touchdown on their very next drive and went into halftime with a 17-7lead. The Ravens tried to stage a comeback, as Joe Flacco threw a touchdown pass to Kyle Juszczyk and hit Nick Boyle to make the two point conversion to bring the Ravens within one score of the Cardinals, but Joe Flacco's pass to Crockett Gillmore was intercepted in the endzone. The Ravens lost 18-26.
The Ravens defense had some of it's usual struggles, allowing Philip Rivers to throw three touchdowns, but they also redeemed themselves late in the game by stopping the Chargers and setting up the game-winning drive. Joe Flacco threw a touchdown pass to Crockett Gillmore and ran for another one. Justin Tucker hit the game winning field goal as the clock hit zero. The Ravens won 29-26.
So what can we learn from the first eight games of the season? Here's a few things:
1. The Ravens aren't giving up
All of the Ravens losses have been by one score and the Ravens have had the opportunity to win the game right up until the last second. The Ravens still believe in themselves and they don't believe that the season is lost. It's clear that the team still believes what John Harbaugh is telling them.
2. The offense isn't perfect, but it's not the problem either
Marc Trestman has drawn some criticism from fans for his playcalling and the performance of the offense. While that's understandable, he's fairly pass-happy and the offense hasn't been as efficient as it could, he isn't doing too bad. The offense is ranked 15th in scoring, with 24 points a game, a stat that would be more passable if the defense was holding. The offense has been able to put points on the board despite having tight ends with no more than two years of experience, injuries on the left side of the offensive line, and no Breshad Perriman.
3. The defense is the problem and it shows no sign of getting better this season
The Ravens could very well be 5-3 heading into the bye week if the defense was able to have held their leads in Weeks Two, Three, and Five. The Ravens could also be 1-7 right now if the Chargers didn't have an injury ravaged offensive line and if Keenan Allen didn't go down for the season in the middle of the game. The Ravens defense is ranked 26th in points allowed and that is owed to a combination of Dean Pees' inept scheme and the lack of quality edge rushers.
So, with that said I think that the Ravens will go 4-4 in the next eight weeks keeping every game close and playing down to the final minutes and then enter into an offseason where they make major coaching changes *cough* firing Dean Pess*cough* and hold a Top 10 pick in the draft for the first time since 2008.