Perception is Reality
REALITY: The Baltimore Ravens are 35-38 since 2013.
Perception: The Ravens are stuck in mediocrity. Their last four years have been nothing to write home about… 8-8, 5-11, 10-6, 8-8. Three of the last four seasons have seen the Ravens fighting for a playoff berth right up to the last game, but never really having a chance to make it to the Super Bowl.
This year, the Ravens sit at 4-5 and are once again fighting to make it to the playoffs as the second Wild Card. But even if they make it, do they have what it takes to make a playoff berth really count and go to the Super Bowl? Highly doubtful.
The New York Jets were supposed to stink. Many were not even sure the Jets would win a single game this year. Rumor was they were throwing the season, so they could get the top pick in the draft and get their “Quarterback of the Future.” But something different happened… they were winning. They started the season 0-2, but then won three in a row. Some people wondered what they were doing, asking if they were so bad that they didn’t even know how to lose correctly. Because they started winning, some Jets fans were getting upset that they would miss out on their much-needed top draft pick. Did fans really want their team to be that bad?
The Ravens sit in a similar position. They aren’t good enough to win the Super Bowl, so would fans rather see them lose to get a better draft position? That’s not in my DNA. I can’t imagine rooting for my team to lose, but some fans are doing just that.
The Houston Astros lost over 100 games three years in a row. No one was rooting for them to be that bad, they just were. But because they were so bad, they were able to stockpile the youth talent that they desperately needed. It paid off, with the Astros turning things around over the last couple of years, culminating with a World Series Championship this year.
Would Ravens fans prefer that? Would fans rather their teams be irrelevant for a half-dozen years and have it pay off in the end? Or would you like to see your team fight it out every week, with a chance to make it to the playoffs every year, but not get to the big game?
Baltimore fans know what that feels like, as that is the place the Ravens and the Orioles are in right now.
REALITY: The Ravens, at 4-5, are in the playoff hunt.
Perception: The Ravens are in second place in the AFC North, three games behind the Pittsburgh Steelers. But more importantly, they are just one game behind the Buffalo Bills for the second AFC Wild Card.
The Ravens are finally getting healthy. The much-anticipated return of Danny Woodhead may happen Sunday, and Terrance West, Nick Boyle, Michael Campanaro, and Tim Williams could all see action too. If the Ravens get to (close to) full-strength this week, it will go a long in helping them make the playoffs.
The Ravens are fighting the Bills, Oakland Raiders, and Miami Dolphins for the final AFC playoff spot. I can’t take the Dolphins seriously, plus the Ravens win the tiebreaker with Miami. The Raiders are just as up and down as the Ravens, and the Ravens own the tiebreaker with them too. The Bills are the biggest competition with Baltimore for the playoff spot, but they still have to play the New England Patriots twice, the Kansas Chiefs, and LA Chargers, as well as the Dolphins twice. That’s not an easy road for Buffalo.
Baltimore faces a back-up QB with the Packers. A back-up QB with the Texans. Tough Lions and Steelers teams. And then finish the season with the Browns, Colts, and Bengals. That is a VERY winnable schedule, if the Ravens can figure out how to play offense.
REALITY: Baltimore travels to Green Bay to take on the Packers, Sunday.
Perception: The Ravens have not been successful against the Packers, who lead the all-time series 4-1. But those teams had Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers leading them. Brett Hundley is running the Packers now and the Ravens usually love taking on a first-year QB.
The Ravens are 7-2 after bye weeks since John Harbaugh has taken over as head coach, and since 2002, they are 12-3 after a bye, which is tied for the best in the NFL.
If they Ravens do not turn the ball over and can get pressure on Hundley, this should be a game that gets Baltimore back to .500 on the season.
Ravens win 23-14.