Ravens Earned Playoff Berth
January 6, 2010
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With the win over the Oakland Raiders this past weekend the Ravens qualified for the playoffs as the six seed. They finish the season 9-7 having handled their business against the weaker teams on their schedule and eeking out a couple of wins against winning teams. They qualify as probably the most balanced Ravens teams ever with the #3 defense, #3 in points allowed, #13 offense, #9 in points scored and a +10 turnover margin (#4 in NFL).
The Ravens won or were presented with a chance to win all but two games they played this season (At Bengals and At Green Bay), so despite the mediocre record they are a dangerous team going into the playoffs. Even those two games that they didn’t have a chance to win they made those games interesting in the second half with spirited comebacks. Some of the close losses they suffered (at Vikings, at Patriots, Bengals) are the kinds of losses that send a team spiraling to a losing record. To the Ravens credit they were competitive in all of their games despite the tough losses they suffered and still managed to achieve a winning record and playoff berth.
By no means are the Ravens a perfect team. They have flaws, but more than any Ravens team I can remember they have been able to correct issues that they’ve had at certain points of the season. Stupid penalties still seems to crop up as the main problem, but typically games are called differently in the playoffs than they are during the regular season which could work to the Ravens advantage. The second biggest problem has been pass defense, but the Ravens seemed to have corrected that problem by playing more passive in the defensive backfield and getting a better pass rush. The Ravens end the season as 8th in pass defense which is amazing considering how badly they were playing earlier in the year. The third issue they had was a lack of pass rush. They still aren’t getting many sacks, but in the last 5-6 games they have been able to sack/hit/hurry the passer with consistency. Antwan Barnes reemergence as a rush linebacker is one of the reasons for their improvement. A new issue rearing it’s head recently is the offensive line giving up more sacks than usual. It may be more on the QB holding the ball than the line having break downs. Hopefully the Ravens can sure that up for the playoffs.
If they are able to keep the penalties down and otherwise maintain their current level of play they should be competitive with any of the AFC playoff teams, starting with the New England Patriots in the Wild Card Round.