For the first time all season, the Ravens put together a complete game against the Detroit Lions on both sides of the ball, scoring four touchdowns on offense and another on defense. The encouraging part about this is the Ravens had a trend of disappointing after a big win, but a three-game winning streak brings reason for optimism.
We’ve all heard the timeless cliche that defense wins championships, which is true — the Ravens’ 2000 championship run is an extreme case of evidence — but defense alone can’t carry a team consistently to a championship.
After last week’s dismantling of the Detroit Lions, in which the Lions’ offense looked lost even when Matt Stafford was in the game, the Ravens offense was able to step and consistently string together drives as well as hit big plays downfield. While the Lions are starting to sputter, whichever way you look at it, the Ravens are on a three-game win streak, and that’s what matters.
The NFL is an any given Sunday league and any bit of momentum can help. Look no further than the fourth-and-29 play during the 2012 season when Ray Rice converted a first down. The win looked insignificant at the time, but it went on to have major playoff implications by the end of the regular season. We had reason to believe the Ravens were skating by on luck after wins against the Raiders and the injury stricken Texans, but the hardest thing for a team to do is to go out week-after-week and string together wins. Enter Steelers.
While the Ravens are on a three-game win streak, the toughest and truest test will come this weekend when they travel to Pittsburgh to take on a Steelers team that sits atop the AFC and remains a heavy favorite to win the AFC North. If the Ravens can go into a hostile environment, take advantage of a Steelers team that is playing on a short week and come away with a win where they get contributions in all facets of the game, there will be reason to believe this Ravens team is hitting their stride and can make a legitimate playoff run.