This is a weekly series that will attempt to reset expectations for the final win total after each Ravens game. For an explanation of the assumptions, read here.
I feel like a pathologist at this point. Let’s get down to the autopsy and examine how I see the metrics.
Change in expectation due to prior week’s W/L result: I estimated the Ravens with a 75% chance to beat the Browns at home. Sunday’s loss changes the expected season wins by -0.75 before we consider other factors.
Change in expectation due to emerging talent or scheme:
–The offensive line again played well. They gave Flacco ATS on 20 of 36 drop backs and I scored them for a number of starred blocks in the run game. In the closing minutes of regulation and OT, I felt the OL was the unit that needed to win the game. They did just that at Pittsburgh, but came up short against the Browns (+.3).
–The interior pass rush continues to produce. The standards are low, but Davis, Guy, and Williams all produced well to complement outside linebackers who did virtually nothing. Davis tipped 2 passes, both of which were complete anyway. He also set up Brandon Williams for a stunt sack by bulling the All-Pro Mack. (+.1)
–Buck Allen came through with some good runs (+.05).
–Jeremy Ross looked good on returns and kept working to get open when Flacco was in trouble (+.05). It’s that kind of effort that can help build QB/WR chemistry.
–The Ravens must now scheme for pressure and that’s having a noticeable impact on the linebackers being able to cover. In some cases, that’s because Pees needs to be deceptive and drop OLBs to zone, but otherwise it comes out in poor technique. One bothersome example came when the Browns converted 3rd and 2 (Q1, 7:17). Mosley appeared to anticipate Johnson would be staying in to block and took a step to rush (green dog) rather than move laterally to shadow the RB. When Johnson slipped out of the backfield, Mosley was out of position and chased him for 27 yards (-2 + 29 YAC) before Will Hill could knock him out of bounds (-.2).
–OLB play was atrocious. This goes beyond the injuries. McClellan (10 snaps), Babin (20), and Za’Darius Smith (63) contributed virtually no pressure, but also sprinkled in penalties and poor coverage. Only Upshaw (68 snaps) produced against the run and with a couple of good plays in coverage early, but he’s still not providing any appreciable pressure (-.3).
Net adjustment: 0 wins
Change in expectation due to injuries:
–Monroe returned and played well (+.15). I’ll continue to evaluate, but based on 1 game, he is playing more like 2013 than 2014. The Ravens desperately need him to play well so LT is not a 2016 draft priority.
–Will Davis was lost for the season with a torn ACL (-0.15). Unfortunately, this injury goes beyond any expectation for 2015. Davis will be entering his 4th season in 2016 and may not be fully recovered when it begins. He may never play again for the Ravens.
–The loss of Elvis Dumervil creates a pass rush critical mass problem for which the Ravens don’t have an answer. He created lots of pressure personally as well as opportunities for B-gap pressure off the slot or from ILB. Babin is the only other established rush OLB, but he won’t be a Raven in 2016. I expect the organization will roll the dice with Upshaw and Z. Smith getting the bulk of OLB snaps, and I’m not expecting good results. It’s a knee injury, so I’m baking in concerns about effectiveness with an expectation of 6 weeks missed (-.65).
–Lardarius Webb was quietly having a good season. He’s finding the football well as evidenced by PDs and the negated INT Sunday. Based on the experience through training camp and his past injury history, there is a broad set of possible shelf times. I’m baking in 4 games without Webb into this adjustment (-.3) to go with replacement level play much below expectation given the Ravens’ other CB injuries/effectiveness.
— Just as the running game has been leading the offense, the Ravens now look thin at RB. The team is downplaying the seriousness of Forsett’s ankle injury, but with Taliaferro also down, concern is warranted and may require a personnel change. Juszczyk is not a legitimate option for anything but a finish-the-game scenario. He has zero career carries and fumbled 3 times in 2014 (-.1).
Net Adjustment: -1.05 wins
Change in expectation due to opponent events: The Chiefs lost Jamal Charles. I adjusted the Ravens’ chance to win that game, but I’m not yet aware of other significant injuries facing Ravens’ future opponents. Given positive reports about Roethlisberger and the play of Vick on Monday night, I also adjusted down the Ravens chance to beat the Steelers on 12/27. Net adjustment: 0 wins
Season expected wins after week 5: 5.35 That’s not what any Ravens fan should be happy to see, but the team has a lot of holes on defense and at skill positions on offense. I don’t expect they’ll be more than a 4-point favorite in any remaining game. The best chances to win will be versus Jacksonville and KC. However, I also think they have less than a 30% chance to win just 2 of their remaining games (at Arizona and at Cincinnati).
Breaking the season down by components through 5 weeks:
Conversion of expected wins: -1.85
Prospective adjustments for scheme/personnel: +.25
Prospective adjustments for injuries: -2.80
Prospective adjustments for other teams on schedule: +.25
The Ravens have won just 1 game, while pregame expectations were for 2.85. That’s a combination of execution (both theirs and the opponents), coaching, the effects of injuries sustained in those games, and a little luck. If that were all that had gone wrong to date, the Ravens would still have a glimmer of postseason hope in a weak AFC.
The Ravens have also enjoyed some good fortune in terms of opponent misfortune (see Vick, Michael) and have had some talent emerge (Gilmore, Carl Davis, Will Davis, Guy) which have netted them half an expected win all put together.
However, the biggest impact this season has been injuries, which have accounted for a whopping 67% of their drop in expected wins from the start of the season (2.80/4.15).
Nothing can bring down a good team like a devastating set of injuries at key positions.
Looking ahead to San Francisco: The dollar-weighted wagering public remains stubbornly convinced the Ravens are “just going through a phase”. The early line is Ravens -2.5 on the road. Based on the money line, the Ravens’ implied chance to win is over 54%. I have a hard time believing they have that good a chance to get the tables turned in San Francisco, but the 49ers are awful. I’m going to say 50% and maintain some mild conservatism from my actuarial roots.