Should the Ravens fall to the Browns and the Steelers take care of business against the Bengals in Pittsburgh, it would end the Ravens 2018 season. It would also mark the third consecutive season in which the Ravens held their playoff hopes in the palm of their hands only to let them slip away.
And then, you-know-what will hit the fan regarding the work-in-progress John Harbaugh contract extension.
Peter King reported recently that Harbaugh could enter the 2019 season as a lame duck coach and wait to see what the market might bear for his services. I’m not buying that. Steve Bisciotti is unlikely to allow his skipper to start a new campaign without the benefit of another year on his contract. Players can quit on a coach in mid-season if things go awry.
Think back to when the Ravens headed into their bye week sporting a (4-5) record and losers of three straight following a rather uninspired effort against their archrivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. If Harbaugh wasn’t under contract, his message from that point forward may have fallen on deaf ears at that point and the balance of the season could have easily unraveled.
Harbaugh will either get an extension or be traded.
It has been floated out there by some in the media that Harbaugh doesn’t have much of a relationship with the team’s GM-in-waiting, Eric DeCosta. That’s just not the case. But that said, it wouldn’t surprise me if the two engage in heated debates going forward when it comes to personnel matters.
DeCosta is determined and wants to build a dynasty. He has the energy, vision and talent to do exactly that. If Harbaugh becomes a roadblock in the war room during draft weekend, DeCosta’s demeanor could morph into that of a pit bull. And that is actually good for the club. At this stage of his career, Ozzie Newsome lacks the combativeness to take on Harbaugh. That’s not the case with DeCosta and I doubt that you’ll see picks of compromise in the future, like Kamalei Correa and Bronson Kaufusi.
Sunday could be the last time that Joe Flacco dresses in Ravens colors. It’s no secret that the team is likely to move on from the Super Bowl 47 MVP following the 2018 season and consequently, many believe the Ravens should extend a warm send off for Joe. He’s certainly earned it but given Flacco’s make up, you have to wonder if he’d even be open to such a sendoff.
Complicating things even more, is the method the team chooses to say goodbye. Some of the suggestions I’ve heard include allowing Joe to play a series; letting him take a knee in victory formation or even introducing him with the offense before the game.
But pageantry is not the focus on Sunday. Winning the AFC North is!
Here’s a thought…
How about the Ravens show a Flacco highlight reel on the video boards followed by a close-up camera shot of Joe on the sidelines, all of which would take place during a TV timeout and just prior to a Browns possession that requires a big defensive stand.
That should lather up the crowd, right?
Did You Know?
Sixty years ago today, the NFL’s greatest game was played and it changed the league forever. The maestro of that unforgettable day was John Unitas. Here’s a song and video in his honor.
If things go bad for the Ravens on Sunday, it could be the last time we see the likes of some other key players. Terrell Suggs seems intent on continuing his career but he’s an unrestricted free agent. C.J. Mosley, a solid player, wants to become the league’s highest paid linebacker. Za’Darius Smith will want to be paid handsomely as well, and he’s earned it. John Brown, could go either way. With Flacco at quarterback he seemed like a real value. With Lamar Jackson at the controls, it’s difficult to gauge his worth.
Plus, there are other vets under contract in 2019 who might also have run out of time in Baltimore because their play doesn’t equate to their pay, namely Jimmy Smith ($9.5M) and Eric Weddle ($8.25M). NOTE: If the Ravens win on Sunday it triggers a $1M bonus for Weddle.
Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut!
Patrick Onwuasor was lights out against the Chargers and everyone is heaping praise upon the AFC Defensive Player of the Week. “Peanut” is fast to the ball and is a sure tackler. Should Mosley leave via free agency, pairing Peanut beside Kenny Young in 2019 could provide value for the Ravens. However, if both Mosley and Weddle are gone, the Ravens will be in search of a defensive signal caller.
Don’t be surprised if Weddle is back should Mosley seek greener pastures elsewhere.
[Eric] Weddle totally messed with Philip Rivers that entire game. He did an outstanding job. It’s crazy how a guy, when you say, I don’t want to say ‘doesn’t make a play,’ because that’s a negative connotation, because he is what is making other people make plays by how he is messing with quarterbacks on not knowing coverages. And, he’s orchestrating that back there on the back end with it, and it’s just an invaluable piece to the defense that he gives and he brings. I think that that’s … You’re seeing that the past six weeks as well.” ~ Wink Martindale
If the Ravens take care of business against the Browns, they will host the Chargers in a Wild Card matchup the following week. The line on that game will be interesting. The Ravens were 4-point dogs in LA against the Chargers. Conventional wisdom suggests that home field advantage is worth 3 points. But the Ravens throttled the Chargers a week ago. The guess here is that the Ravens would be a 2 ½ point favorite.
Continuing with this thought, should the Ravens advance and then take out the Chargers, things could get interesting. Let’s assume for a moment that the Colts are the sixth-seed and go on the road to take on the Texans (3rd seed). Let’s further assume that the Colts do as they did in Houston on December 9 and beat the Texans. The Colts would then play the top-seeded Chiefs (as of now) in KC and the Ravens would travel to Foxboro to take on the Patriots.
How wild would it be if the Colts beat the Chiefs and the Ravens upset the Patriots? Crazier things have happened, right? And if it does play out this way, guess where the AFC Championship Game would be played?