Ravens’ karma trending in wrong direction for meeting with Bengals?

December 28, 2011 | Luke Jones

Ravens’ karma trending in wrong direction for meeting with Bengals?

Either way, the Ravens will need their offense to produce points and the defense to pressure Dalton and keep close track of Bengals wideouts in the secondary if they want to complete a 6-0 mark in the division and realize their optimum playoff positioning.

The plan isn’t rocket science, but the troubling evidence collected in their four road losses is impossible to ignore. At some point, what you first considered to be an anomaly becomes the expected result when it keeps happening over and over again.

Will the Ravens do anything differently this week to prepare for this road game?

“I think we’ve got a good routine,” Harbaugh said. “It’s proven [and] we’re going to try to play better than we have in games we didn’t win on the road. That’s the main thing. Obviously, turnovers were a big factor in some of those games, like any games in the National Football League.”

In fairness to the criticism thrown at the Ravens regarding their road struggles, critics conveniently forget their biggest win of the season came in Pittsburgh when quarterback Joe Flacco orchestrated a 92-yard touchdown drive in the closing seconds to beat the Steelers, 23-20. To take care of the Bengals, the Ravens may not need the same drama, but they’ll need similar poise and play from Flacco, who will need to find more production in the passing game than he did last week with Boldin on the sidelines.

As challenging as it looks, the Ravens are capable of getting the job done against a Bengals team without any winning pedigree to stand on. There’s no telling how Dalton, Green, and their other young players will respond to pseudo-playoff stakes they haven’t experienced before. The Ravens have a golden ticket to make their path to the Super Bowl shorter and easier than the ones they’ve attempted to travel over the last three seasons.

“That’s kind of what I want to keep the guys always honed in on is that opportunities come few, they come very few,” Lewis said. “But I think right now, we have the team that understands that.”

Understanding is one thing, but actually doing it is another. Perhaps after their many road woes this season, the Ravens will finally respond the way they need to.

Even if there are too many signs pointing in the wrong direction.

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3 Comments For This Post

  1. waspman Says:

    Karma is a funny thing. On one hand, it is no more than what anyone wants to put into it. On the other hand, the body will only go where the mind sends it.

    I never liked the emphasis the team put on having to get by Pittsburgh and having to avoid road playoff games. I much prefer the emphasis ion trying to get better week after week, and taking on all comers. Yes, the Ravens have fallen short three years in a row, and losing to Pittsburgh has been there to haunt the team twice. And, yes, the team hasn’t had a home playoff game during the Harbaugh years.

    Yet, the Ravens were still 4-3 in playoff games on the road against teams tougher than their regular season losses of this year and even the Steelers can’t claim making the playoffs all of the past four years.

    Somehow that emphasis has become somewhat self-fulfilling. The Ravens are 2-0 against Pittsburgh with the probable need to make it 3-0. Yet, the Ravens are 3-4 on the road despite winning at Pittsburgh.

    Except for the game in San Diego where the Chargers scored 24 points in their first four possessions, I do not blame the other road losses on lethargy. While some of it was poor play and mistakes — especially at Seattle — most of it was stupid play. Some of that existed against Arizona and Cleveland at home, too, except the Ravens got away with it.

    If the Ravens play stupidly or play give-away, the Bengals will pose a problem.

    Now “trending” (very trendy, by the way) is a different thing altogether.

    I like to look at the Aikman Efficiency Ratings. They take five categories Troy Aikman deem as being important, and rates each one of them statistically against a ten-year average heading into each season. If it matches the average, that category gets a 15. Better gets more while the opposing defense gets less. Add the five scores together and you have your offensive and defensive AER for that team for that game.

    AER’s are a far better measure of why a team has won or loss than yards, the way the NFL does it as an official stat. For example, the Bears outgained the Packers on Sunday night 441-363 in yards. If you take the combined NFL ranking using yards only, Green Bay ranks 5th and 31st on offense and defense for an average of 18th. That would be worse than the Redskins’ combined. However, the top nine teams in AER are playoff bound.

    This does NOT indicate upcoming winners and losers. I use two manipulations of these stats to help with predictions but I use six other indicators as well. Nevertheless, trending is what has happened so I have taken the AER’s of Baltimore and Cincinnati for their three five-game stretches so far this year.

    Overall, the Ravens are 79.7 offensively and 84.3 defensively. Their 164.0 is second best behind Green Bay. They are one of only five teams to be above 75.0 both offensively and defensively. Only the 49ers are better than the Ravens defensively, and the Harbaugh teams are the only two over 80.0.

    Meanwhile, the Bengals are 75.6 and 73.3. Their 148.9 combined AER is 19th best. Only Oakland and Denver rank lower but have winning records.

    From a trending standpoint, the Ravens on offense in five-game increments are 77.4, 80.4, 81.3 — and upward trend. Defensively, they have trended downwards by going 88.7, 82.3, 81.9 even though their defense still holds an edge over the offense in the most recent third of the season.

    Meanwhile, Cincinnati has gone 76.7, 80.1, 70.0 and 76.3, 68.7, 74.9.

    Baltimore’s combined AER advantage in five-game segments have been 13.1, 13.9, 18.3 better than the Bengals.

    While I haven’t declared yet my pick for any of this week’s games, the evidence indicates the Ravens are trending upwards. Let’s hope the in-game decisions by coaches and players continue to match that.

    (L.J. – Thanks for commenting and very thoughtful analysis!)

  2. Justafan Says:

    I feel that there is to much emphasis on the Ravens seeming inability to win on the road. Championship teams for the most part make hay at home and split on the road. If the Ravens win Sunday, they will end the season 8-0 at home and 4-4 on the road. Not too shabby!

  3. Franchise Says:

    Luke,

    I call your “trending in the wrong karma direction” and raise you with my reverse MOOSH to block your blog with this:

    My Flacco Fu-Man-Chu looks marvelous….”It’s not how you feel, it’s how you look and you look marvelous”—-Ravens #2 Seed in the AFC

    Regards,

    Fernando Lamas

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