It’s often said that the key to a team’s success in the NFL is taking care of business at home, and winning half of your games on the road. It’s a pretty straightforward formula that equates to a team more often than not making the playoffs.
Eight games on the road, eight games at home. Finish 6-2 within the friendly confines of your own stadium, and go 4-4 on the road. Finishing 10-6 most years is good enough for a playoff berth, regardless of whether that means winning your division or claiming a wild card spot. Entering as the #6 seed or the #4 seed in recent years has made little difference. What’s more important is getting healthy at the right time, and riding a wave of momentum.
For the 2013 Ravens, winning at home wasn’t the problem, as they finished with a 6-2 home record. As a matter of fact, M&T Bank stadium in recent memory has been one of the most difficult venues for visiting teams. In the last three years the Ravens are a combing 20-4 in Baltimore, something Ravens fans take pride in.
However, a big reason the Ravens missed the playoffs in 2013, was their troubles outside of Baltimore. The Ravens finished 2-6 on the road, losing must-win games to teams like Buffalo and Cleveland. Had they finished 3-5 on the road in 2013, instead of 2-6, their streak of consecutive playoff appearances would still be intact.
So what happened in 2013?
There is no doubt a handful of factors played a part, but one of the biggest ones was the man under center.
I get it, the Ravens had no running game, the O-line was awful, Anquan Boldin got shipped to the 49ers for peanuts and losing Dennis Pitta was brutal. It wasn’t all Joe’s fault and I’m confident he bounces back in a big way in 2014. But, he had the same group of guys around him all year, regardless of whether he was a mile from the inner harbor or surrounded by the rocky mountains of Denver.
Looking at the stats, it’s obvious Flacco’s play on the road is the X factor for the Ravens in 2014.
Flacco had his most disappointing year in 2013, throwing 19 TDs and 22 interceptions. There’s no doubt his struggles on the road directly correlated with the Ravens 2-6 away record.
At M&T Flacco and the Ravens were 6-2, where Joe had 10 TD passes and 8 interceptions. His completion percentage was 62% and he had a rating of 83.8%.
When the Ravens were on the road it was a different story. Flacco had 9 TD’s and 14 picks. His completion percentage was almost five points lower at 57.6, and he had a rating of 67.8.
2013 was disappointing for the Ravens as a unit, but it’s hard to ignore the difference in their signal caller’s play at home versus on the road. If #5 can change that in 2014, there’s a strong chance the Ravens recapture the AFC North crown in 2014.