Reality: The New England Patriots were down 24-0 at halftime and came back to defeat the Denver Broncos 34-31 in OT.
Perception: On the surface it appears the Broncos were dominant in the 1st half and the Patriots were dominant in the 2nd half. But that wasn’t totally the case. The amount of miscue’s goes to show that there are no truly “great teams” in the NFL. Even two of the teams with the best record play sloppy football and can be beaten. With the weather turning colder, you’ll see teams that had success earlier this year start to struggle. Cold weather teams usually find a way to beat warm weather teams and that has always played well for the Ravens.
Reality: Tyrod Taylor was 0 for 1 as a passer and that triggered a passer rating of 39.6. Geno Smith’s passer rating was 22.3.
Perception: That says more about Geno Smith than it does Tyrod Taylor. But Taylor is the talk of the town. Some love using Tyrod in the Wildcat, while others say you pay Joe Flacco $120 million to throw the football. For me, it’s more about how bad the running game is than using Tyrod to shake up the passing attack. But when the Ravens complete a long pass, why mess with whatever momentum you may have just gained by putting Taylor behind center. And they have no excuse with using the Wildcat in the Red Zone. I don’t mind using Taylor to mix things up a little, but I think that formation was used too much Sunday.
Reality: Joe Flacco was 17 for 26 for 273 yards and 1 touchdown. His QB Rating was 97.1, and he average 10.5 yards per attempt, which was his highest of the season.
Perception: As I said on Friday’s “Perception is Reality”, the Jets secondary was not great, so the Ravens offense was going to need to try to throw downfield more. My only question is why didn’t they try it even more? I know it was windy, but Flacco was still effective. Throw the ball deep! With Smith and Jones, this team has a much better chance than when you don’t throw it!
Reality: There are 6 teams in the AFC at 5-6. If the playoffs started today, the Titans would win all the tie-breakers to make the playoffs, while the Steelers and Ravens would be next, but left out.
Perception: I think the winner of Thursday night’s grudge match between the Steelers and Ravens win the 6th and final playoff spot in the AFC. The NFL is a quarterback league. You can’t win in the playoffs without a top-notch QB. There are 6 teams vying for the final playoff spot in the AFC right now, but only 3 of those teams have QBs that have won a playoff game. The Jets are pretenders. The Raiders are starting an undrafted rookie, who won’t make the playoffs. The Dolphins are hanging tough, but I don’t see them making the playoffs behind Ryan Tannehill. The Chargers got a big win yesterday, but let’s see if they can put a string of late-season wins together. The Titans have Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB. He’s a very good backup, but relying on him to win you the big games down the stretch? I don’t see it. That leaves the Steelers and Ravens. A win Thursday night gives the Ravens the edge for the playoffs. But as always with the Steelers, it won’t be easy.