Is It Too Early to Mention the P-Word?

A little over three weeks ago, the outlook for the Baltimore Ravens seemed just as bleak as the outlook for the Cincinnati Bengals (Yeah, it was that bad) and the Detroit Lions.

Fans were calling radio stations all over Maryland, inquiring about which college prospects the Ravens should draft with their all but assured top five pick in April, and which free-agents the club should sign in March using their abundance of cap space.

 

Hey, coming off of a 25-0 blanking at the hands of Tampa Bay, where the offense wasn't able to gain 200 yards in total offense, you could understand why the sentiments of doom and gloom ran rampant, prompting fans to focus on next year's team.  

 

Now, three weeks into the present, it wouldn't be a stretch at all to mention the terms playoffs and Ravens in the same sentence, especially today, when the black birds are coming off of a huge home win against the Jacksonville Jaguars. How about the NFL, huh? Don't you just love this parity packed league?

 

With so much equality, virtually every team in the NFL besides Cincinnati has a puncher's chance to win against any team, on any given Sunday. Just look at Detroit, a bad 2-4 team that defeated the Saints three weeks ago, giving New Orleans their only loss for the season. Look at the Rams, who at 0-5 defeated the previously undefeated Oakland Raiders in St. Louis two weeks ago.    

 

Parity is definitely what's keeping Baltimore in the thick of the AFC playoff picture, as it seems like there are ten different teams legitimately vying for a place in the postseason. With the NFL realigning their divisions in each conference, all of these teams are clawing and scratching at each other at a fevered pitch, considering there are only two wildcard spots up for grabs.

 

The funny thing is; the Ravens really don't seem to have any chance to land in the big dance as a wildcard team, as they have the past two seasons. There is no question that barring a collapse, the Raiders, Chargers or Broncos will grab both wildcard berths, with one of the three teams winning the AFC West.

 

However, the Ravens can win the AFC North, which is the bizarro version of the AFC West division. In the North, up is down, good is bad and teams with 3-3 records are in first place. Go figure.

 

With a Pittsburgh loss to Indianapolis tonight, Baltimore would take full control of the division lead going into next Sunday's matchup against the aforementioned Steelers.

 

Let's say for a minute, while we are jumping ahead of ourselves, that the Ravens can somehow eek out a victory against Pittsburgh and assume a two game lead going into their eighth game of the season.

 

Well, the rest of the schedule certainly starts to shape up quite nicely for the Ravens the rest of the way. After traveling to Atlanta to take on Michael Vick and the Falcons, a game that could easily be won by either team, the Ravens then come back home to face those tricky Cincinnati Bungles on November 10th.

 

In fact, the Ravens have two more games left against Cincinnati, a boon that Pittsburgh doesn't have the rest of the way .They also have winnable games left against the Texans, Titans and a rematch against the Browns in Ravens stadium.


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