As the Ravens move into week five for a hard match up for their weak. injured defensive backfield that is no contest for the Colts passing attack, they have decided on Joe Flacco as their starting quarterback the rest of the year. Good move ? We will see. Finally placing Kelly Greg on injured reserve, a move they should have also made with Samari Role, they now should be thinking of picking up a kicker that can get the ball consistently in the end zone for two reasons, their special teams have been terrible and Matt Stover has not shown this year he can do it. Bad field position hurts the defense and it shows up in the fourth quarter as the players look tired and have had trouble stopping good teams from scoring.
But what does the rest of this season hold in store for Raven fans, players and the team record? With an aging defense that may have many roster changes next year because of age, serious career ending injuries and cap room salary space this is most likely the last year this group will be together. So if a playoff berth is not obtained this year , with a young offensive line(youngest in the NFL even with Willie Anderson) and a learning rookie quarterback, how many games can this team win in 2008?
We have seen the Ravens now in four games and may not know any more than we did before the season began. We know they can win at home against weaker teams and lose games they have in controlled in the fourth quarter. We know Joe Flacco can not throw outside the pocket very accurately yet and that he is forcing to many balls as a rookie QB often does. The injured defensive backfield is no better than last years group and actually have more injuries than last years group.
John Harbaugh has shown why first year head coaches usually don't make the playoffs early in their careers. His conservative play calling, decisions and punting the ball inside the other teams' 35 yard line looks like the same thing Ravens fans have seen for the last 5 years and that has lead to losing seasons and not many playoff appearances.
He has admitted this week that third down conversions and turning the ball over has lead to the last two losses and must not continue or this team again will face a long season.
Are we going to go up ?
Yes we can if things improve. With the bottom two teams (Browns,Bengals) just about out of the playoff picture already, the Ravens can win this division with a 9 win season. The Pittsburgh Steelers have some tough games coming up in the next 6 weeks while the Ravens have some winnable games ahead although they are on the road for most of them. The Steelers play Dallas, Washington, New England and the Eagles sandwich in the middle of two easy games against the lowly Bengals.The Ravens after an almost sure lost against the Colts, play winnable games against Oakland, Miami and Bengals in the middle of their schedule. The Ravens must have wins on the road in at least 3 to 4 games this season in order to make a playoff run.
Will the Ravens go down ,as the year progresses and win less than 8 games?
It is very possible if current trends continue and their rookie QB continues to struggle and they can not win on the road. They must win both of their remaining away games in their division(Browns,Bengals).They must win at least one or two games against NFC Eastern Division teams, Washington, Eagles,Dallas or the Giants and they will be hard and tough games. And closing the season with Dallas,Pittsburgh and Jacksonville will be almost impossible games to have a winning record against.
The Ravens have two wins so far and they must beat Okaland,Miami,Bengals, Browns and an NFC Eastern team or two( Washington, Eagles,or upset the Giants or Dallas).
They must beat Pittsburgh at home late in the season to have any chance of a playoff or division berth.
Will they be somewhere in the middle?
It is most likely the best answer and most likely conclusion to this season is yes to this question.
The Ravens have show if the running game can control the clock and turnovers can be kept to a minimum with a good defensive effort some games are winnable but most unlikely 9 or more wins are possible. With no bye week and the tough hard hitting teams they are yet to play it is more likely injuries can occur and the long season will take its toll and wins will become harder to obtain
I think 7 wins is what will be accomplished by seasons end. A season that produces less than 6 wins is what most NFL experts expected and is still very possible and 8 or more wins will make this coach and this 2008 Raven team a very successful addition to our football history.
But if this team can just stay close to Pittsburgh all year Raven fans will have an enjoyable season.
Where do Ravens go from here?
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