Raise your hand if you thought the Ravens would roll to a relatively easy victory at the Bills today (lots of hands raised in the back … including mine).
This was a complete reverse of roles as the Bills played the part of the Ravens with four field goals, key plays and just enough defensive pressure to hold on to a hard-charging opponent in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Baltimore looked like Buffalo against Dallas a few weeks ago with two touchdowns, a huge interception deep in opponent territory that led to a score, lots of penalties and just enough offense to stay in the game, but not enough to win.
The result, a 19-14 Ravens loss that leaves the purple gang at 4-3 going into the bye week and so many questions for Brian Billick, his staff and players to answer before they begin a six-game gauntlet with three straight against AFC North foes and then three more against San Diego, New England and Indianapolis.
The Ravens are currently sixth in the conference standings after the loss and they are lumped in with several teams with three losses. I reference the AFC standings because it is beginning to look like the Ravens are not a division title contender right now and there will be a lot of scoreboard watching as the team fights for a Wild Card slot over the final nine games.
On the plus side, Willis McGahee had a decent day with 114 yards on 19 carries, a 46-yard touchdown and a 6.0-per carry average in his return to Buffalo. The bad news was that the Ravens didn’t call his number when they needed just one yard to keep their final drive alive inside of the two-minute warning, instead Kyle Boller threw a pair of incomplete passes to turn the ball over on downs.
On the minus side, the Ravens had 11 penalties for -91 yards and three of those gave the Bills first downs. Also, the Ravens did not get into the Bills’ red zone until the first two drives of the fourth quarter.
To get to 10 wins and give them the best chance of making it to the AFC playoffs, the Ravens have to find six wins against the following clubs: Steelers (twice), Cincinnati, Cleveland, San Diego, New England, Indianapolis, Miami and Seattle. The problem is that four losses to this group gives the Ravens a 9-7 finish and they will have to sweat out their playoff hopes.
Six wins or four losses … what’s your bet based on how the Ravens are playing right now?