The only positive thing to come from last night’s 34-14 loss to the Chargers is for the fourth consecutive season, the Ravens will find themselves in the playoffs. For most franchises this may be enough to make your city rejoice, but not in Baltimore.
Even though the Ravens have consistently been in the playoffs the past four seasons, they’ve also been consistent in playing them on the road. The franchise hasn’t hosted a playoff game in Baltimore since 2006.
It looks like that streak will continue.
Now more than ever the Ravens need M&T Bank Stadium and it may not be for the fans– it’s for the turf.
The story has been the same for the Ravens all season. Beat some of the best NFL franchises but lose to the subpar franchises on the road. Each of the Ravens four losses this season has come away from M&T Bank Stadium and to teams with losing records.
If the Ravens want to call themselves and be respected as an elite team, they’re not doing much to prove their case.
The one need for home field advantage, which may be overlooked in this atrocity, is the kicking game.
Billy Cundiff was a Pro Bowl kicker in 2010 and earned himself a 5-year, $15 million extension last winter. This holiday season, the Ravens may have some feelings of buyer’s remorse.
While Cundiff has connected on all 17 of his kicks at M&T Bank Stadium this season, he is dreadful on the road. Cundiff has only converted on 10 of 19 attempts and clearly struggles during any game where he has to pack his suitcase.
Reports over the past few weeks are that Cundiff hasn’t been practicing due to a left calf injury. Anyone who knows about kicking, (for a right footed kicker) the left foot dictates the direction of the ball. If Cundiff is compensating for his injury, it will be exposed.
Converting 2 of 5 field goals in December isn’t good enough for a team hoping to play in February. Last week, the Ravens tried out veteran kicker Shayne Graham due to Cundiff’s calf issues.
The Ravens need to decide now if they can trust Cundiff. During the postseason, many games come down to the accuracy of your field goal kicker. The man now calling the shots in Baltimore was known as one of the best special teams coaches in the NFL for almost a decade. John Harbaugh had to have questioned himself multiple times on the flight home from San Diego last night if he can actually trust Cundiff when it matters most.
Had the Ravens won last night, they would have held the cards in determining how many more games they needed to play to win a super bowl. Instead, they’re right back where they were with many doubts and another blemish on their record due to their preparation against a lesser opponent.
The kicking game is nothing to mess with an now each Raven will be practicing tonight—kicking themselves that tonight’s Steelers and 49ers game even matters to them.
Get your popcorn ready…