Reality: The Baltimore Ravens are 3-4 heading into their Week 8 bye.
Perception: The Ravens need to go 7-2 the rest of the way to make the playoffs. It’s doable, but that means they have to right the ship and not drop any more three-point games. Finishing 7-2 means beating Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Minnesota, the Jets, and Bears. The only two losses they can have are against New England and in Cincinnati. But if they really want to make the playoffs, they need to sweep the division the rest of the way.
Reality: This is the first time that the Ravens have been under .500 after seven games with John Harbaugh as their Head Coach.
Perception: This is also the first time any Super Bowl team has lost nine starters (make it 10 now with McKinnie). Yes, they replaced many of those nine starters with quality players, but whenever you have that kind of turnover there will be learning curve. And that curve has taken its toll as the team is under .500.
Reality: Only seven teams have gone Back-To-Back as Champions in the Super Bowl era.
Perception: It’s only going to be harder and harder to do because of the Salary Cap and Free Agency. Think about it. When your team does that well, that means players are going to get paid. Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe are not worth the massive paydays they received. But when you win, teams will pay. When teams are willing to overpay for players, then the Champions will have a hard time recovering from that amount of lost players.
Reality: Onside kicks in the NFL are successful 26% of the time. However, if the kick is a surprise, there is a 60% chance of success.
Perception: The Ravens’ onside kick Sunday in Pittsburgh was a surprise and in a league that plays the percentages, it was a good move. Plus, the kick was a good one, and the Ravens even recovered the kick… but the off-sides penalty was the issue. That was player execution, not coaching.
Reality: The Ravens had just seven offensive possessions on Sunday, and scored on four of them.
Perception: You need to make the most of your chances. Most say that the average number of possessions in an NFL game is 12, so the Ravens barely had half that many. Since their defense couldn’t get the Steelers off the field, the offense needed to move the ball well. On some drives they did. However, they had to settle for too many field goals. If you only get seven possessions, you need to get in the end zone on half of them.