Reality: The Baltimore Ravens rank 29th in the NFL in rushing offense with just 71.6 yards per game. They rank 32nd in average yards per carry at 2.8 per game.
Perception: Did you see that? 32nd! There are 32 teams in the NFL. So the Ravens have the lowest rushing yards per carry in the NFL! This is the same team that has had a proud history of running backs that were tops in the league at one time… like Earnest Byner, Jamal Lewis, Priest Holmes, Eric Metcalf, Willis McGahee… just to name a few. The rushing offense has pretty much always been there for the hard-nosed Baltimore football squad. For the Ravens to be last in the league in rushing yards per carry and 29th in rushing offense, it’s just simply shocking.
Reality: Ravens running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce have the second- and third-worst yards per rush averages among qualified NFL RBs.
Perception: They are both only averaging 2.7 yards per rush and combined only have five rushing touchdowns. It’s amazing to think just how far they’ve fallen when Rice has been one of the top running backs in the NFL for the past couple of seasons.
Reality: Since 2008, the Ravens own the NFL’s second-best record in November, posting a 17-6 overall record.
Perception: With a loss last week at Cleveland, the Ravens need to continue that winning November if they want to have a chance at the playoffs. But it won’t be easy, with games at home against Cincinnati, the Jets and Pittsburgh, and a road game in Chicago.
Reality: The Ravens have allowed 0 red zone touchdowns at home this season.
Perception: Even with a 3-5 record, the Ravens are second in the NFL in red zone defense, and no defense has been better at home, as they are the only team yet to allow a red zone touchdown at home this season. But that will be really hard to keep up this weekend, as the Bengals rank third in the NFL in red zone offense. That will be one of the major keys to the game.
Reality: The Ravens have lost nine of their last 13 regular season games, and have lost six of their last seven regular season road games.
Perception: If you didn’t know how last season ended for the Ravens, you would see the stat and say “this is a bad team.” But, the Ravens were able to go on a run in the playoffs… they got hot at the right time. That’s the NFL. You don’t have to be the best team all season… you just have to make the playoffs and win four games.
Reality: Sine 2002, the Ravens have the greatest difference in Winning Percentage between home and away games, with a 35% difference between their win rate at home and their win rate away.
Perception: If they make the playoffs, there is no way the Ravens will host a playoff game. But they have five home games left in the regular season. They must win all five of those games and probably two of their three away games, if they want to make the playoffs.
Reality: Since 1990 (before they were even in the league, of course), the Ravens have the third best home-field winning percentage in the NFL at 68.75%, trailing the Packers and Steelers (72.16%).
Perception: Home-field advantage has been just that for the Ravens since they came into the league. At 3-5, Ravens fans may be discouraged by this team but over the last five home games of the season, starting Sunday, Ravens fans will need to resurrect the “World’s Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum” that Memorial Stadium once was for the Colts. Leave last week’s loss at home and be as rowdy as possible to get the Bengals rattled and the Ravens on the prowl.
Reality: Each of the last 13 seasons, a team with a sub-.500 record through its first eight games went on to make the postseason (three did it in 2012).
Perception: I get that… I do. But unless something just “clicks” this week for the Ravens, this team doesn’t have what it needs to go on that type of a run. Making the postseason means going at worst 6-2 the rest of the way. With two games against the Bengals, another against the Patriots, plus the Steelers, Bears, and Lions still to come, I’m doing my best to stay positive, but it’s “make or break” this weekend. A loss and the season is likely over.
Reality: Since 1990, nine NFL Teams have made the playoffs after starting off with a 3-5 record.
Perception: If the Ravens want to proof they are still a good team and can make this year’s playoffs, then it all starts Sunday. A loss likely ends any hope of making the playoffs this season. A win against the division leading Bengals can definitely help their cause and turn the momentum around.