Baltimore Ravens: What You Need to Know Heading into Week 8

Shehan Peiris@@shehan_peiris_Correspondent IIIOctober 22, 2013

After a disappointing loss to their biggest rivals, the Ravens have a ton of work to do.
After a disappointing loss to their biggest rivals, the Ravens have a ton of work to do.Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

After a disappointing loss, the Baltimore Ravens have plenty of work to do as they head into their bye. Here are the most important things you need to know after Week 7.


Division Standings

AFC North Division Standings
TeamRecordNext Game
Cincinnati Bengals5-2Vs. New York Jets
Baltimore Ravens3-4BYE
Cleveland Browns3-4At Kansas City Chiefs
Pittsburgh Steelers2-4At Oakland Raiders

As the Ravens limp into their bye, the Cincinnati Bengals have taken control of the AFC North. Both teams have been involved in very close games for the past two weeks, but the Bengals have come away with two victories while Baltimore has lost both contests.

Cincinnati has the chance to extend that lead even more when they host the New York Jets in Week 8. The Jets have been surprisingly good this year, and it should be a defensive battle with two of the most talented defensive fronts in the game going at it.

Elsewhere, the Cleveland Browns will take their shot at the only undefeated team left: the Kansas City Chiefs. Beating the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium is a tall task, and the Browns have cooled off after their hot streak.

Lastly, the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Oakland Raiders. For all the fuss that was made about their winless start, a win in Oakland brings Pittsburgh even with the Ravens and right back in the mix.

The bye couldn't have come at a better time for Baltimore as they have the time to make the necessary changes.


Injury Report

Injury Report
Josh BynesFinger
Terrence CodySprained Knee
Ryan JensenFoot
Brandon StokleyThigh

There's nothing new to report in the injury department after the Steelers game. Josh Bynes is still recovering from surgery on his finger, and his return date is still unknown.

Brandon Stokley missed his third straight game with a thigh injury, but his presence isn't as important with a good rotation of four wide receivers.

Rookie Ryan Jensen returned to practice last week for the first time all year after suffering a broken foot in training camp. It's still unclear when he'll be ready for game action, but he is only going to serve as a developmental backup this season anyway.


What Needs to Improve (Other Than the Running Game)

As the subheading suggests, the running game still needs to improve, but for the sake of avoiding repetition, here are the other areas that Baltimore must work on during their bye week.


Special Teams Play

The failed onside kick against Pittsburgh.
The failed onside kick against Pittsburgh.Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach John Harbaugh has to be very disappointed with the performance of his special teams units given his background as a special teams coordinator.

Baltimore has had two of their punts blocked this season, and their execution on special teams was dreadful against Pittsburgh.

They almost gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown and were fortunate that Emmanuel Sanders stepped out of bounds. In addition, the Ravens went for an onside kick that was ruined by an offside penalty.

It's hard to understand why they're playing so poorly, given how spectacular they were last season, but the special teams need to get back on track moving forward.



Penalties have been an issue for the Ravens this year.
Penalties have been an issue for the Ravens this year./Getty Images

Baltimore was penalized nine times and gave up 67 yards against the Steelers. With the team struggling to win close games, they can't afford to keep shooting themselves in the foot and making such frequent mistakes.

The worst ones are the offensive line penalties that kill drives. Mike Preston of The Baltimore Sun reported that some players had voiced concerns over the blocking scheme, so expect the Ravens to spend the bye week implementing changes and making sure every lineman is aware of assignments and snap counts.


Use More No-Huddle

Joe Flacco ran the offense very well when they went no-huddle.
Joe Flacco ran the offense very well when they went no-huddle./Getty Images

The Week 7 game saw the Ravens use a different style of offense. They utilized more three-wideout sets and ran a lot of no-huddle offense.

Joe Flacco looked great running the no-huddle, and Baltimore needs to continue to play to their strengths on offensewhich isn't the running game anymore.

Additionally, Flacco spent a lot of time operating out of the shotgun, which allowed him to get rid of the ball quickly.

These were welcome signs for the offense, and, hopefully, offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell continues to move in that direction during the bye. The offense should look very different in Week 9 when they face the Cleveland Browns.