Reality: Quarterback Joe Flacco’s accuracy percentage on deep balls is 22.6%… that is the worst in the NFL.
Perception: The last two weeks, as I watched the Ravens game, I remember saying to myself “throw it down field!!” Yes, I understand Flacco has not been as accurate on the deep balls as he was last year, but you are more likely to get a catch or pass interference on a long throw than just an incomplete pass. With an offense that’s not moving, throwing it down field more often might actually help move the offense, and open up holes for the running game.
Reality: In six games decided by three points or less, the Ravens are 2-4. Last season, they were 5-2 in games that close.
Perception: This is an important stat in any sports league. The 2012 Orioles were great in 1-run games and made the playoffs. The 2013 Orioles were terrible in 1-run games and missed the playoffs. Last season, the Ravens were really good in close games and won the Super Bowl. This season, if the Ravens miss the playoffs, they can blame their record in close games as a major reason for that failure.
Reality: Head Coach John Harbaugh said “We are in the hunt. We can do it and we’re good enough to do it.”
Perception: Are they good enough? Right now, No. But look back at the last few Super Bowl Champions… none of them were “good enough” in the middle of the season. They all got hot at the end of the season and through the playoffs. That’s all it takes in the NFL… get hot in November and December. So are they good enough right now? No – but not many teams are!
Reality: Only the top five teams in the AFC have a winning record.
Perception: Six teams go to the playoffs. Denver, Indianapolis, New England, Cincinnati, and Kansas City are in the drivers seat for the first five playoff spots. But there are eight teams within one game of each other for the 6th and final AFC playoff spot. Right now, the Jets hold down the 6th playoff spot and have a 1-game lead over eight teams. The Ravens are currently 6th of those eight teams, tied (but losing tie-breakers) with Oakland, Tennessee, and Pittsburgh and tied (but winning tie-breakers) with Cleveland and San Diego.
Looking at those teams fighting for the last AFC playoff spot, I’m not convinced any of them are better than the Ravens. Oakland does not scare me. The Titans and Browns are floundering without their starting QBs. San Diego always falls off at the end of the season. To be honest, Pittsburgh is the scariest team.
If the Ravens beat the Jets Sunday, they move up to a tie for the 6th playoff spot, and hold the edge over the Jets in tie-breaker. If they lose Sunday, they fall two games back of the 6th spot and at 4-7, you can say their playoff hopes would officially be done.
So the Ravens season comes down to the next two games. Win them both (at home) and the Ravens will control their own destiny for making the playoffs. Lose either one (or both) and you can (unofficially) eliminate the Ravens from playoff contention this season.