Reality: The Ravens have scored more than one offensive touchdown in just 5 games this season.
Ravens have scored 0 or 1 offensive touchdowns in 6 of their 11 games. Just can't beat the best teams that way #RavensTalk
— Bo Smolka (@bsmolka) November 28, 2016
Perception: In the 2000 Super Bowl season, the Ravens went five games in a row where they didn’t score an offensive touchdown, winning two of those. But this year’s defense and specials teams are not as good as they were that season, especially the kick-off and punt return units. The defense is playing very well this year, but the 2000 team had arguably the greatest defense in NFL history. This year’s team is not on that scale. The defense will need help from the offense in order to win games down the stretch, especially against the Dolphins, Patriots, and Steelers.
Only the Houston Texans have fewer touchdowns than the Ravens this year. 19 touchdowns in 11 games… that’s terrible.
Reality: Justin Tucker was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) November 27, 2016
Perception: Deservedly so! How valuable is Tucker to the Ravens? When the Ravens were at the 38-yard-line, they let Tucker kick a field goal for three points. Conversely, when the Bengals were at the 38-yard-line, they punted.
As I mentioned, the Ravens went five games in 2000 without and offensive touchdown and won two of those games. Matt Stover was a crucial part to the success of the Ravens winning the Super Bowl in 2000. Justin Tucker has been just as crucial to the Ravens sitting in 1st place after 12 weeks in 2016.
Stover holds the Ravens franchise record for consecutive field goals made with 36. Tucker currently sits at 34. Tucker has also not missed a kick in 2016, and he has never missed an extra point in his career. An even better stat? Tucker is 87-for-88 inside 40 yards in his NFL career. No one can come close to that.
Tucker is the best kicker in the NFL. His career is still very young, but he has already put himself in the discussion of best kickers in NFL history.
Reality: Penalties continue to kill the Ravens, especially on offense.
@Ravens are 2nd most penalized team in NFL. They were doing ok for 3 quarters then the flags started flying. It's a problem. A real problem.
— Mark Viviano (@MarkWJZ) November 27, 2016
Perception: Baltimore has had 92 accepted penalties on them this season for 798 yards; only the Raiders have more. That is an average of 8.3 penalties per game for 72.5 yards. The NFL averages are 6.9 and 59.6, respectively.
It always seems that as the Ravens start to make their way down the field, someone does something stupid. The penalties the Ravens commit have cost this team dearly. For as close as the games have been this season, it has cost the team a win or two.
Reality: The Ravens control their own destiny to make the playoffs.
Perception: They have the Dolphins at home Sunday and the Eagles at home in a couple of weeks. They also have tough games on the road, including in New England and Pittsburgh, before wrapping up in Cincinnati. Baltimore must win their home games, and obviously in Cincy. If they go 3-2 in their last 5 games, that puts them at 9-7 and it could put them in a tie with Pittsburgh atop the AFC North. If they go 2-3, it most likely puts them out of the playoffs.
As I said last week, you just have to get to the postseason. Anything can happen then. But going 8-8 and missing the playoffs is the worst-case scenario. A mid-round draft pick and no playoffs.
Reality: The Ravens lead the all-time series against the Dolphins 7-6 (includes 2-0 in playoffs).
— Joe Polek (@JoePolek) November 28, 2016
Perception: 2007 was a game against the Dolphins I can’t seem to forget, even though I want to. The 0-13 Dolphins beat the Ravens in Miami, led by Cleo Lemon and his 315 passing yards. The last three meetings between the two teams have been in Miami, with the Ravens winning two of them. Five of the last six regular season meetings have been in Miami, with the Ravens taking four of them.
The Dolphins are one of the surprise teams in the league. Miami is 7-4 and has won six in a row.
Miami is ranked 26th in offensive yards (but 6th in rushing), while the Ravens are 2nd in defense.
The Ravens are tied for 24th in offensive yards, while the Dolphins are 20th on defense.
The Ravens must stop the Dolphins run game. And even though the Dolphins are 28th in passing, if Jimmy Smith doesn’t play (though it’s looking like he will), the Ravens might struggle against the pass too. The Ravens defense will need to come up with at least one turnover and stop Jay Ajayi. If they can do that, they should win this game… but “should” is tough to do for the Ravens this season. They are hard to figure out.
Ravens win 16-14.