Heartbreak is no longer an accurate term to describe the recent endings of Baltimore Ravens football games. The better word is choke. For the fourth straight game, the Ravens choked. As a result, they have plummeted from the ranks of the top teams in the NFL, and find themselves in a tier with the teams fighting for high draft picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Ravens are even a contender for the number one overall pick.
Yes, the number one pick.
The Ravens are just 3-4 and many teams have equal or worse records than the Ravens, but few have the gauntlet the Ravens will face in the second half. To have a shot at making the playoff, the Ravens needed to be, at worst, 5-2 at the bye week, and they failed to do that.
Looking ahead, the Ravens will face both the Steelers and Bengals twice, as well as trips to Dallas and Foxboro, and a visit from the Eagles. The way the team is playing right now, especially if the injures continue to rack up, I just can’t see how they win any of those games. The other two games in the second half are a likely home win against the Browns, and a visit from the very inconsistent Dolphins. A 2-7 second half is not out of the question, which would set the Ravens at 5-11, for the second year in a row, likely netting a top-6 pick.
The Ravens only moved the ball 42 yards in the second half agains the Jets. Against the Jets! Even when considering the injuries the Ravens dealt with, that stat is flat out embarrassing, and does not bode well for the much more difficult second half of the year.
On the defensive side of the ball, many top contributors, including C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, all missed the game. Without these linebackers, the defense made Ryan Fitzpatrick look like a real quarterback. Injuries can be a good excuse, but good teams have the depth to still play at a high level when key players are forced to miss time, and the Ravens frankly don’t have that.
By this point, injuries cannot provide a strong excuse for the Ravens. They have had the ball with enough time to drive down the field, score a game defining touchdown, and give the other team the ball with almost no time at all, and have failed all four times.
So is it time to give up the 2016 season? My heart says no, but my head says yes. The Ravens have a much needed bye week in Week 8, hopefully to recuperate and wipe the slate clean after these dreadful past four weeks. If the Ravens gets healthy, and hot, they could finish around 9-7, and have a shot at a wild card. But if they can’t get healthy, and can’t get hot, an exciting draft night could be next.