The last time the Ravens made the playoffs in 2014, they went unbeaten in all of their preseason games, toppling the 49ers, Cowboys, Redskins and Saints.
Baltimore also went undefeated in last year’s preseason with victories over the Panthers, Colts, Lions and Saints. The Ravens then went on to finish the regular season at 8-8 and missed the playoffs for the third time in four years.
As a result, it’s difficult to accurately gauge how preseason success can carry over when the games count.
The Ravens have an opportunity to go 4-0 again this year with a victory in New Orleans on Thursday — a game where most of the key players will likely not take a snap.
Nonetheless, Ravens coach John Harbaugh has put a focus on winning the game. He’s hoping a solid preseason will carry over to the regular-season opener Sept. 10 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“Our guys need to get ready for Cincinnati,” Harbaugh said. “Our guys need to get ready to play the Bengals. But, we do have players that will make the team that will be playing in the game against the Saints. They won’t necessarily be starters, but there will be guys that are going to be role players for us, special teams starters for us, and guys who are battling for spots on the team.”
The final preseason game does carry some weight because several players will need a solid performance to make the final 53-man roster or earn a spot on the practice squad. NFL teams must make their final roster cuts by 4 p.m. on Saturday.
One of the key battles will be on the defensive line.
Third-year tackle Carl Davis is having one of his best camps, but he is being pushed by undrafted rookie Patrick Ricard, who has also shown he can be an effective fullback. Willie Henry, a second-year player from Michigan, is also looking to make the next step in his development. Chris Wormley, a rookie third-round pick from Michigan, likely has to make some type of impact or he could be headed to the practice squad.
Another intriguing player to watch is Keenan Reynolds, the former record-setting Navy quarterback who is trying to make the team as a receiver/returner. He is behind the veteran Michael Campanaro on the depth chart.
“There are going to be a lot of tough decisions that we’re going to have to make very soon,” Harbaugh said. “This game is going to be a big game, in terms of opportunities for guys to make the team. The other part of it is that we want to win. No matter what anyone says about it, we want to be 4-0 in the preseason, and we want to win on the road.”