Through six weeks, the Baltimore Ravens are 4-2.
On paper, it’s a respectable record for a team that has dealt with numerous injuries, coaching changes and three road divisional games. However, anyone who has watched the team knows they could and probably should be 5-1 or 6-0.
All four of their wins came fairly convincingly. But their two losses? In both the Colts and Steelers games, the Ravens were in position to win late but couldn’t close the deal despite being handed multiple opportunities to do so. As the great Bill Parcells said, “you are what you’re record says you are”. But is that true for the Baltimore Ravens?
Based on a number of different metrics, the Ravens have been one of the better teams in the league over the first six weeks. Whether it be EPA, FPI, or DVOA, almost every notable gauge of team success indicates that Baltimore is in fact a very good team.
According to FTNFantasy, the team is sixth in total DVOA, with the tenth best offense, second best defense, and an estimated win total of 4.3, ranking fifth in the NFL. However, DVOA doesn’t take certain things into account that could paint a different story. For example, the coaching blunder late in the Colts game that resulted in receiver Zay Flowers catching the ball and stopping the clock before the two minute warning. How about the missed pass interference call on Flowers in overtime of the same game? Both were significant events that changed the outcome, but won’t show up on the stat sheet, or any DVOA type ranking.
An interesting metric to confirm the Ravens “unluckiness”, either self-imposed or otherwise, is Action sports’ NFL Luck Rankings. The ranking system displays a team’s expected winning percentage over the course of the game vs. their actual winning percentage. Basically, what is expected to happen vs. what actually ends up happening. While the word luck might not be an accurate reflection of the team’s self-imposed late game catastrophes, the Ravens are unsurprisingly the 7th “unluckiest” team in the league. In both of their losses, they were heavily expected to win at a certain point, and then blew it in one way or another.
While individual mishaps like these have been a frequent occurrence for the Ravens, the more general concern moving forward is the depletion of offensive success as games have progressed. In nearly every contest, the Ravens offense has gotten off to a hot start, but became increasingly worse as the game progressed. According to TruMedia, the Ravens rank No. 2, No 6, No. 16, and No. 31 by quarter in overall offensive success rate.
This confirms what we all have seen to be true. The offensive simply hasn’t been able to string together four consecutive quarters of good football in a game this year. Whether it be turnovers, play-calling, or players failed execution, something is wrong.
Through six weeks of a season, we have enough information to identify where teams are bad, and where teams are good. Simply put, the Ravens, specifically their offense, are a bad second half team but a great first half one. Luckily for Baltimore, there haven’t been too many teams in the AFC that have been dominant in all of their games. The Bills, Chiefs, Bengals, Jaguars, and Dolphins, the presumable high level competition in the conference, have all seen inconsistencies which leaves the conference wide-open.
We knew going into the season that the offense would be a work in progress with so many personnel changes. Fortunately, the defense has been about as rock solid as you can get, and the offense has shown flashes of greatness in the first half of games. The point? The Ravens are capable of being a great team. It’s not like the offense simply hasn’t been able to move the ball. They have, and they are just a few plays away from being undefeated through six weeks. However, the second half inconsistency has cost the team two games against average competition. The combination of this with other blunders would leave us to believe that the Ravens deserved their two losses and hence are a true 4-2 football team.
Overall, the team has been unable to truly capitalize on their easier early season schedule and now will begin to face harder competition, starting with the Detroit Lions this Sunday.
If the Ravens plan on winning the division or even making the playoffs, their current level of offensive output is not going to get it done. The defense has been fortunate to play against some bad offenses and most likely won’t be able to hold teams like Detroit to less than 15 points a game. The heart of the NFL season is here, and the Ravens’ offense needs to keep their foot on the gas for all four quarters if they plan on playing in January.