Next two home games are “judge and jury” for Ravens

November 22, 2010 | Drew Forrester

will come to Baltimore looking to get a real cornerstone win for their campaign. And make no mistake about it, the Bucs offense might be troublesome for the Ravens — Tampa Bay can throw it, run it and use their tight end effectively. They’re very similar in makeup to that Falcons team that just beat the Ravens 10 days ago, only Josh Freeman isn’t as experienced – and sharp – as Matt Ryan.

The following Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers buzz into Baltimore for their annual visit to Charm City.

Enough said on that one.

Two games, at home, against two very capable teams.

Those of you still taking the “wait and see” attitude on the Ravens don’t have too much longer to wait.

Personally, barring injuries, I think Baltimore wins both of these next two home games. But I’m also willing to acknowledge that neither game is a walk-in-the-park. The Panthers game looked and felt like a glorified pre-season tilt and well it should, what with a stitched-up Carolina offensive unit and 25,000 Ravens fans in attendance in Charlotte. But this Sunday – and the next – will be a real game and the Ravens will have to play well on both sides of the ball to win.

And despite being 7-3 with four home games remaining, the Ravens still remain very much in “must win” territory each and every week. True, losing a game to a NFC game is potentially far less harmful than dropping one to an AFC rival, but the magic number for most teams still remains 5 losses. Only lose five games – maximum – and you have a 90% chance of making the post-season. Lose six and you’re playing with fire.

I’ll take the Ravens to beat Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh, but I know this for certain…for those people who still think the jury is out on the Ravens, their verdict will be delivered on December 5 around 11:30 pm.

Once the Steelers come and go – and having that Tampa Bay game in the books – there should be little doubt in anyone’s mind as to the real status of this Ravens team.