The Baltimore Ravens may be sitting at the top of their division with a 5-2 record, but the team is far from being where they want to be this year.
Injuries have plagued the Ravens this season. The team has some key defensive players missing from a team that wasn’t up to its typical defensive standards to begin with.
Ray Lewis is out for the season with a torn triceps, and Ladarius Webb is gone with a torn ACL.
At the end of last season, the Ravens were ranked third in the league in overall team defense, allowing an average of 288.9 YPG.
They were ranked second overall in rush defense, allowing just over 92 rushing yards a game. A year before that the Ravens allowed just under 94 rush yards per.
Want to guess how well they’re defending the rush this season?
They’re ranked 30th in rush yards allowed. Baltimore is giving up about 50 more yards on the ground per game than they did over the last two years.
In their most recent loss, they gave up 181 rush yards to the Houston Texans. And what’s worse is they gave up 420 total yards to Houston compared to their own 176.
Injured cornerback Webb was one of the Ravens’ best corners and had 24 solo tackles on the season. He injured his knee in Week 6 in Baltimore’s win over the Dallas Cowboys.
Lewis led the Ravens in tackles this season with 44. He’s a vital part of the Ravens defense and has been since his start in Baltimore 17 years ago.
But as two major pieces of the Ravens defense end their seasons early, another is just getting his started. That’s some good news for Baltimore.
Terrell Suggs returned last week after having surgery on his Achilles tendon last May. Suggs was last season’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year and had a career-high 14 sacks.
He gives Baltimore some hope in his return. In his first game back, he sacked Houston’s QB Matt Schaub once in the first quarter and finished the game with four tackles (three solo).
But the addition of Suggs doesn’t get the Ravens to where they want to be defensively.
So while the defense struggles, the Ravens will have to look to their offense to win games.
Baltimore only put up 13 points in the team’s loss to Houston, but that doesn’t mean the team’s offense isn’t capable.
The Ravens still have a solid QB in Joe Flacco. His completion rate is up from last year (59.5 from 57.6) and he’s throwing almost 40 more yards a game.
And they still have Ray Rice. He’s one of the best running backs in the NFL. He averages just under 75 yards a game and has five touchdowns this season.
See? It’s not all bad for the Ravens. They are capable of finishing the season strong and making the postseason even without some key players.
Baltimore’s coming off its bye week in Week 9 and will face off against the Cleveland Browns (2-6) Sunday. But the team’s real test will come in Week 11 when they head to Pittsburgh to play their division rivals. That performance will help to determine Baltimore’s fate this season.