Bye weeks are for self-scouting. For a team like the Ravens that has lost their last four games, such scouting, while not enjoyable, is necessary.
Not only have the Ravens lost four games in a row, they’ve lost four of their last 10 home games and four of their last 10 games overall. While those games have mostly been close, losing by one point, two points, or 20 points is still losing. You are what your record says you are.
Right now, the Ravens are a 3-4, 2nd-place football team. Could they be better? Sure. Could they be worse? Of course. Besides the first couple of weeks when everyone is figuring everyone else out, what you see is largely what you get. If a team isn’t successful and synergistic by the mid-point of the season, they’re probably not postseason-bound.
This funk Baltimore has been in started at the beginning of the 2015 season. Since then, 21 of the Ravens’ 23 games have been decided by one possession (eight points or less). Their record over that span is 8-15, with a point differential of minus-79.
The last time the Ravens won a regular-season game by more than one score was in Week 17 of the 2014 season, versus the Browns–December 28, 2014, to be exact. In other words, it was 22 months ago today since the Ravens last won a game by more than one score.
Even then, it took Baltimore scoring 17 4th-quarter points to claim the 20-10 victory over Cleveland that afternoon. Terrance West gained 106 total yards and rushed for a touchdown for the Browns, while Joe Flacco completed 22 of his 36 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns for the Ravens.
That win helped the Ravens close out the 2014 regular season with a 10-6 record, and qualified them for the playoffs as the AFC’s 6th-seed. After beating the Steelers in Pittsburgh (another double-digit win, and their most recent overall, 30-17), Baltimore went on to lose at New England in the divisional round. In that game against the Patriots, the Ravens, on two separate occasions, had a 14-point lead. They also had a three-point lead with less than six minutes remaining in the game. Unfortunately, Baltimore couldn’t get the job done that night.
Since then, the Ravens have been playing in these close games so often it feels like they’re incapable of winning by a large margin.
It’s been 24 games since Baltimore has won a game by more than one score, which is by far the most in the NFL. Of the 31 other teams in the league, 16 have gone three games or fewer since winning a game by more than one score. The next closest team to the Ravens in this regard is the Rams (17 games), and the average number of games it’s taken every other team in the league to win by more than one score is five.
What does all of this mean? It means that while the Ravens aren’t getting blown out every week, they’ve gone a season and a half without really asserting themselves on the scoreboard. Sure, they could be dominant on the field without that dominance translating to a lopsided point total. But in reality, what does it matter how dominant they are if they aren’t winning?
I don’t know when this string of close games will end. All I know (and frankly all I care about) is Baltimore beating Pittsburgh at home in two weeks. If that happens, the Ravens will be in 1st place in the AFC North at the mid-point of the season.
The Ravens were so close to being 7-0, but instead find themselves 3-4. It’s been almost two years since they’ve won a game by more than one score. It seems like they aren’t maximizing their potential, and all of that is frustrating. But the quickest way to sustain that frustration is for them to point fingers and criticize each other.
It’s understandable for fans to be frustrated. Every Sunday, we tune in hoping that THIS will be the week we get to finally sit back and enjoy an easy win once again. Recently, the team has taken to building 10-point leads early in games just to give us that much more false hope.
The Ravens have blown a 10-0 lead in 4 of the last 5 games (Jax W plus Was, NYG, NYJ).
— Ken McKusick (@FilmstudyRavens) October 23, 2016
*edit to Ken’s tweet – they never led Washington 10-0
One of these times, they’ll go up 10-0 and not look back, right?
All we can do as fans is believe that the next big win is right around the corner. And that this dubious, stressful streak they’re on will soon come to an end.