Reality: The Ravens have produced at least two sacks in 17 straight games, which is the NFL’s longest such streak.
Perception: This is a major reason why the Ravens are even in the playoff discussion. The defense has come to play and Sunday was an incredible performance (sans the Hail Mary). The amount of pass deflections at the line and the number of pass knockdowns by corners were something I haven’t seen by a Ravens defense in a long time. It was enjoyable to watch this team play defense on Sunday.
Reality: Since 2008, the Ravens are 9-1 in November at M&T Bank Stadium, including seven straight. The Ravens have allowed just three touchdowns in four home games this season, limiting opponents to 12.8 points per game.
Perception: The Ravens got their 100th home win Sunday. Since coming to Baltimore in 1996, they have 97 regular season wins and three playoff victories in Charm City. Baltimore’s home cooking greatly helps this team defensively. With four home games left in the regular season, they will need that to continue. They need to win all four home games, if they want to make the playoffs.
Reality: The Ravens will face Chicago Sunday, and they currently rank 31st in the NFL in run defense.
Perception: As our own Brian Bower pointed out yesterday, “Something Has Got To Give”… the Ravens can’t run, and the Bears can’t stop the run. If the Raven’s can’t run Sunday, then maybe they need to just stop running altogether. And if they can’t run Sunday, you can kiss their playoff hopes goodbye.
Reality: While the Ravens are relatively healthy, the Chicago Bears are not.
Perception: The Ravens need help to make the playoffs, and injuries are helping. They face the Bears Sunday without their starting quarterback, without a starting defensive tackle, and down a starting cornerback. Josh McCown has played well in Cutler’s absence, but he’s still not a starter for a reason. The Bears have allowed five 100+ yard rushers since Henry Melton went down with an injury. Not having Charles Tillman in the secondary will only help the Ravens deep passing game. You never wish an injury on an opponent, but when they have already happened, then you can breathe a sigh of relief. Those three injuries to the Bears will help the Ravens this weekend.
Reality: The Ravens lost three in a row last season, came home to beat the Giants and started their momentum, which ended in a Super Bowl Victory.
Perception: With the Ravens win over division-leading Cincinnati Sunday, could it be the victory that gives them the momentum they need to make the push for the playoffs? They play the Bears Sunday without their starting quarterback. Then they face a tough Jets team, but they get them at home, where the Ravens are tough.
Reality: Since 1990, only 7% of teams to start 4-6 went on to make the playoffs. However, 29% to teams to start 5-5 have made the playoffs.
Perception: That’s a big difference. This may not be a divisional game, or even a conference game, but it’s still a really big game for the Ravens. There have been 10 times in their history, that after 10 games, the Ravens have had a .500 record or better. They have made the playoffs nine of those times. The Ravens have never made the playoffs when they’ve had a losing record after 10 games. So as you can tell, this is a huge game, if Baltimore wants to make the playoffs for the 6th straight year.