In the NFL, we are obsessed with peaking. Everyone is concerned with teams getting hot at the right time. It makes sense; after all, the last two Super Bowl champions were mediocre to above average for most of the season before they rattled off four straight wins.
Here at the Footbawl Blog, we aren’t as concerned with peaks. Let the ESPNs and NFL.coms of the world handle it. We here appreciate crashing more than peaking, and today, it’s time to pay attention to one of the great crashing stories of the year, and simultaneously the pick for Your Favorite Team sucks this week.
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2012 Baltimore Ravens!
Okay, we have to get this out of the way first before the Ravens apologists attack me like Omar Little would a stash house (Wire references rule!): the Ravens defense has been decimated by injuries. Ray Lewis, T Sizzle, Ed Reed, Lardarius Webb – several impact players have missed most or all of the season. It’s either a terrible circumstance or an excellent excuse, depending on what kind of Ravens fan you are. So to be 9-5 with a defense that torn asunder isn’t that bad.
But to be 9-5 three weeks after being 9-2 is definitely something to worry about.
This recent crash of three straight losses has been pretty disheartening for fans of the team, especially last week’s blowout loss to the Broncos. You wouldn’t normally look at a 34-17 loss and say, “The score made it look better than it was,” but that’s the case here. This game was a rout in every sense of the word, with the Broncos overwhelming the Ravens offensively and stomping out any attempts to gain yardage. This comes after two games where the Ravens lost in last-minute, heartbreaking fashion, which proves that the Ravens can lose in several different ways. At least they’re flexible!
The main reason the Ravens suck has little to do with their results or their defense. It has to do with their reputation as an elite team, or at least a team on the rise to contendership, versus how they have actually played. Last year, when they were Cundiffed out of a chance to go to the Super Bowl, people were pretty sure they would be in the hunt again this year. Their defense has always been dynamic, and they have one of the best running backs in the game. Add to that Joe Flacco, the self-proclaimed best quarterback in the NFL, and that’s a recipe for a February push.
But then Ray Lewis broke his bicep trying to use his arm to crack a walnut. Terrell Suggs lost most of the season when he got hurt at a Ball So Hard University frat party. And then, as crazy as it sounded, Joe Flacco didn’t turn out to be the best quarterback in the league. And on top of all that, Cam Cameron was still taking play calls from a mysterious source who spoke in a language where the words “Ray” and “Rice” did not exist.
The Ravens have stumbled through all of these obstacles steadfastly, racking up 9 victories and leading the AFC North. But they’ve done it by only beating 4 teams with winning records, and one of those teams was the Dallas Cowboys, who clearly don’t count as a winner. Their league rankings in offense and defense range from middle of the pack to low 20s, and their one big win of the season came against a team that everyone and their mom wanted to write off midway through the year.
Obviously the Ravens have time to turn it around. And if Jim Caldwell wakes up from the 27 year long coma he’s been in and starts calling plays based around their running game, they probably will be able to. They have tough games to end the season, depending on which pregame speech Tom Coughlin gives the Giants. Maybe they’ll go on a two game winning streak to end the season, win the division, and get at least one home playoff game.
But if they get past their first round matchup, they’ll have to play two of three teams away from Baltimore to get to the big game. It will be Houston, who creamed them at home; Denver, who creamed them in Baltimore; or New England, who lost to them by a point in Baltimore. It’s hard to be confident that the Ravens will come out fired up to play the big teams when they haven’t been able to prove it consistently all year.
So maybe the Baltimore Ravens don’t really suck, per se; there are other teams who belong on this list above them, for sure. But the Ravens suck because people think they were going to be amazing, because people still think they can be amazing, and most importantly because Joe Flacco has a stupid face and thinks he’s good.
Of course now they’ll go on to win the Super Bowl because of my reverse jinx. You’re welcome, Artis!