Jets vs. Ravens: Baltimore Proves It's Still Serious Playoff Contender After Win

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistNovember 24, 2013

Nov 24, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) runs with the ball as New York Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson (96) defends at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens won 19-3. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Things have been bad in Baltimore, but not bad to the point of the defending champs potentially missing the playoffs—yet.

Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens picked up a gritty win over the New York Jets in Week 12 to move to 5-6 and tie for second place in the AFC North with Pittsburgh.

Flacco was his usual 2013 self, as he threw for 273 yards with a touchdown and an interception. One week removed from 131 yards and a touchdown, star running back Ray Rice reverted to his 2013 self, with just 30 rushing yards on a 1.9 per carry average against New York.

Nov 24, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) looks on during the game against the New York Jets at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens won 19-3. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Yet, the postseason is still within reach.

Perhaps chalk it up to a horrid conference. In the AFC, only one team currently in second place in its division (or eligible for the Wild Card) has a record above .500.

At 5-6, the Ravens are in a fine spot for the last playoff seed.

For Baltimore to do so, things must improve in the offensive trenches. For as much flack as Rice and Flacco get, the offensive line has been horrific. Per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), the Ravens rank in the bottom 10 of the NFL in run- and pass-blocking.

Should a $120 million quarterback be able to overcome the play? Of course, but it would help if he had reliable targets not named Torrey Smith to depend on, too.

What has not been inconsistent is the Baltimore defense. Led by stud linebackers Terrell Suggs and Daryl Smith, the Ravens have allowed one team to surpass the 20-point threshold in their last six games, which have only resulted in two wins, thanks to a miserable offense. 

Still, an outing in which the Ravens only allowed three points and 220 yards of total offense bodes well for the Ravens in a messy conference.

Baltimore plays Pittsburgh next, which ended in a 19-16 loss earlier in the year—in Pittsburgh. Then the Ravens play 2-8-1 Minnesota and 6-5 Detroit before closing out the season against New England and Cincinnati.

The rest of the AFC picture? Either Denver or Kansas City will take the first Wild Card. The AFC East has two 5-6 teams in Miami and New York—both teams the Ravens have already defeated. A threat in 5-6 Tennessee from the AFC South is serious, but Baltimore can work around it.

That leaves the AFC North, where the Ravens are tied with the aforementioned Steelers for second place.

Make no mistake—the Steelers are on a roll, having won three straight games. A rushing attack that ranks near dead last in the NFL, though, is something the Ravens can capitalize on when the two sides meet.

Suffice to say, Baltimore's season is on the line in Week 13 when Pittsburgh comes to town for a Thursday Night Football affair.

A win over New York in Week 12 is nothing to brag about, but it is a good sign for the resilient Ravens. Flacco and Baltimore can likely only afford one loss the rest of the way, but we've seen the team put together incredible stretches in recent history.

The last thing anyone should do is count Baltimore out.