At the beginning of the season, I looked at the Baltimore Ravens schedule and said that they had to be 6-1, or 5-2 at the very worst, when they got to the bye week. Before the season started you could say that the second half of our season was going to be extremely difficult. Many of those games are against teams that are not quite living up to projections but that doesn’t mean the road will be any easier
With the Ravens’ injuries mounting, the defense struggling to stop anyone, and the offense not able to move the ball on the road, the second half of the season will be difficult for reasons we didn’t foresee as the year started.
As Coach John Harbaugh said, Sundays game in Cleveland is a “must-win” for the simple reason that the Ravens need to prove they can win on the road. If they can, they should be able to head into Pittsburgh in two weeks at 7-2. But that’s just the start of a really difficult stretch… in Pittsburgh, then cross-country to San Diego, all the way back home against the Steelers before we head to DC and back home to face the Manning brothers in back-to-back home games before ending the season in Cincinnati.
It’s realistic to think the Ravens could go 5-4 in those games, which gets them to 10 wins. In a mediocre AFC, that should be enough for a Wild Card berth, and maybe the AFC North title – depending on Pittsburgh. But slip up on the road in Cleveland, San Diego, DC, or Cincinnati, and you are looking at only 9 wins, which may not be enough to make the playoffs.
There are so many questions about this team coming out of the bye that guessing what will happen the second half of the year nearly impossible. If the offense comes back to life and Suggs sures up the defense, then 10, 11, or even 12 wins is not out of the question.
If the offense continues to struggle (especially on the road) and the D can’t stop anyone (especially facing the Manning brothers and Big Ben twice) then missing out on the playoffs for the first time since my daughter was born is a very real possibility!