But this was no easy road. The Ravens have rookies all over the place. They have a rookie quarterback and have a completely new coaching staff. They also have the youngest offensive line and one of the oldest defenses. It didn't get any older when third year safety Dawan Landry was sidelined with a concussion in week three.
But the play of Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis, Derrick Mason and the occasional play of others had led the Ravens to 7-4. One can only guess what they will finish. And that is exactly what I am here to do. The Ravens have five games left. They could finish 12-4, they could finish 7-9. But neither one is likely.
Yesterday, the Ravens rebounded from a humiliating 30-10 loss to the New York Giants in which they allowed 207 rushing yards. In a 36-7 win over the Eagles, the Ravens allowed just 86 yards and intercepted four passes and recovered a fumble. The offense also looked great. Joe Flacco threw two touchdown passes and Le'Ron McClain ran for one in a rout.
Is this an indicator? Or is it just a meaningless week 12 game?
What is a realistic finish?
After losing three straight games to the likes of Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Indianapolis, the Ravens have won five of six. They have outscored the opposition 180-110. They have allowed 27 points twice and scored 27 points five times in that six game stretch. More importantly, they have gone from 2-3 to 7-4.
It's mostly due to the play of Joe Flacco. In those six games, he has been 88-for-148 with 1,152 yards, eight touchdowns and just two interceptions. Right now, the playoffs are not out of the question.
Let's break it down:
I expect the Ravens to cruise about as well as they did yesterday against Philadelphia. Cincinnati is coming off a tie with Philly and being crushed by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not only did the Eagles just get demolished by Baltimore, Baltimore almost beat Pittsburgh at Heinz Field in week four, so what does that tell you?
The Bengals are also 1-9-1. I expect Joe Flacco to carve them. In his debut, Flacco faced Carson Palmer and the Bengals. Flacco ran for a 38-yard touchdown and was 15-for-29 with 129 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. Expect better numbers on the passing side of the ball.
This game is the battle of the beltway. The Redskins are coming off two losses to Pittsburgh and Dallas and a win by a field goal over the 2-9 Seattle Seahawks. I think this game matches up well for us. Not only are the Skins struggling, this game is at home.
The Ravens only loss at home was to the Titans, who at the time, were 3-0. The Redskins are struggling mightily, with consecutive ugly losses before edging a 2-9 team. Ravens win this and move to 9-4.
The first game against the Steelers was a very tough one to swallow. We committed all types of stupid penalties and after a late fourth quarter score, the Steelers scored in overtime. I believe to this day that if we would get the ball back, we could have scored to tie—and possibly win the game.
Ben Roethlisberger was out dueled by rookie Joe Flacco and we out gained them in net yards, net yards rushing, first downs, third down conversions successful and time of possession. Unfortunately, we committed eight penalties. I think we'll lose this one too, but it's a very tough one to call.
On Saturday night, the Ravens will be playing the Cowboys in Dallas Stadium. This game is a game I'm dreading more and more each week. Not only are the Cowboys getting healthier, T.O. is getting more involved in the offense, which can not be a good thing. In the game against the Redskins, we saw the Marion Barber of last year when he ran for 114 yards on 24 carries. While I do think the Ravens have a shot against Dallas, I wouldn't bet money on it.
Cowboys win, we fall to 9-6.
This should be our tenth win, doubling our total from last year. And to think this year we can win ten with a rookie, yet we can win a mere five with a future Hall of Famer in Steve McNair, a "vet" in Kyle Boller and a Heisman winner in Troy Smith.
The Jaguars pretty much suck, but I think this could be the game we allow 100 rushing yards. It could be either Maurice Jones-Drew or Fred Taylor. Overall, I think it'll be a field day for both Ray Lewis and Joe Flacco. Ravens move to 10-6, win Wild Card.
What do you think?