Tag Archive | "dolphins"

Ravens sign cornerback Melvin off Dolphins practice squad

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Ravens sign cornerback Melvin off Dolphins practice squad

Posted on 08 November 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens added another young cornerback to the mix Saturday by signing Rashaan Melvin off the practice squad of the Miami Dolphins.

To make room on the 53-man roster, injured cornerback Jimmy Smith was officially moved to injured reserve after undergoing season-ending foot surgery on Thursday.

Melvin will be eligible to play in Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans as he becomes the third cornerback added to the active roster this week, joining veteran Danny Gorrer and former practice-squad member Tramain Jacobs. The 25-year-old Melvin was undrafted out of Northern Illinois in 2013 despite possessing good size at 6-foot-2 and 193 pounds.

Originally signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Melvin spent the 2013 season on injured reserve and initially made the Buccaneers’ 53-man roster this year before being cut in mid-September. He was slowed by an ankle injury suffered in the preseason before being signed to the Dolphins’ practice squad.

The Ravens now have four healthy cornerbacks on their 53-man roster: veteran Lardarius Webb, the recently-waived Gorrer, and Jacobs and Melvin, two players who were on practice squads at the beginning of the week.

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See the Ravens play on WNST Purple Roadtrip to Miami (Dec. 5-8)

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See the Ravens play on WNST Purple Roadtrip to Miami (Dec. 5-8)

Posted on 21 May 2014 by WNST Trips

In what has become an almost annual pilgrimage to South Florida, we head back to the sunny Fort Lauderdale/Miami area for a December 7, 2014 visit with the Dolphins. There’s nothing better than the beach or some golf or some sunshine and palm trees during the holidays.

We are offering two different itineraries for folks travelling for the game so please read carefully. We have a two night and three night package deal that includes all that you need (except for a rental car, which we highly recommend in South Florida!).

WNST TWO-NIGHT VALUE PACKAGE INCLUDES:

RT air from BWI to Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, Dec. 6 at 6:25 a.m. flight and returning Monday, Dec. 8 at 6 a.m.

Two nights at Courtyard by Marriott in Fort Lauderdale

One upper deck group game ticket for Ravens-Dolphins

WNST pre-game pep rally on Saturday night

COST (per person):

SINGLE (1 in room): $750

DOUBLE (2 in room): $625

TRIPLE (3 in room): $575

QUAD (4 in room): $550

Simply click on ADD TO CART below…

How many in your room?
Beds in room

 

WNST THREE-NIGHT PACKAGE:

RT air from BWI to Fort Lauderdale on Friday, Dec. 6 at 6:25 p.m. flight and returning Monday, Dec. 8 at 9:30 p.m.

Three nights at Courtyard by Marriott in Fort Lauderdale

One upper deck group game ticket for Ravens-Dolphins

WNST pre-game pep rally on Saturday night

COST (per person):

SINGLE (1 in room): $975

DOUBLE (2 in room): $800

TRIPLE (3 in room): $750

QUAD (4 in room): $700

 

Simply click on ADD TO CART below…

How many in your room?
Beds in room

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Ravens officially receive seventh-round pick from McKinnie trade

Posted on 20 March 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens have officially received a seventh-round pick from the Miami Dolphins as compensation for last season’s trade of left tackle Bryant McKinnie.

After acquiring current left tackle Eugene Monroe from Jacksonville in exchange for their 2014 fourth- and fifth-round picks last October, the Ravens sent McKinnie to Miami for a conditional seventh-round pick based on playing time. Considering the veteran immediately stepped into the starting lineup at left tackle for the Dolphins, the Ravens had expected to receive the seventh-round selection all along.

Thursday’s news gives the Ravens five selections in May’s draft as they hold picks in the first (17th overall), second (48th overall), third (79th overall), sixth, and seventh rounds. However, Baltimore is expected to be awarded four compensatory picks at next week’s owners meetings in Orlando.

The Ravens traded their original seventh-round pick from this year’s draft to the Indianapolis Colts last offseason in exchange for offensive lineman A.Q. Shipley, who started nine games in place of left guard Kelechi Osemele as he underwent season-ending back surgery.

The NFL draft begins on May 10 with the first round and runs through May 12.

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DeCosta reportedly contacted by Dolphins for general manager opening

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DeCosta reportedly contacted by Dolphins for general manager opening

Posted on 10 January 2014 by Luke Jones

It appears to be that time of year again when NFL teams come calling for Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta about their general manager openings.

According to the Miami Herald, the Miami Dolphins have contacted DeCosta in regards to their opening following the dismissal of general manager Jeff Ireland. However, head coach Joe Philbin remains in place, which would certainly be a sticking point for any high-profile candidate having interest in the Dolphins job.

Multiple outlets were immediately shooting down the possibility of DeCosta having any interest Friday morning.

DeCosta has already been publicly named the heir apparent to Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome by owner Steve Bisciotti and is compensated as well as many general managers around the league, factors that have resulted in him declining interview requests in the past. The 42-year-old expressed his loyalty to the Ravens as recently as last offseason, and it’s difficult to imagine the Miami job being very attractive with the fallout of the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin saga continuing to hang over the head of the organization and Philbin still remaining as head coach.

“I love being a part of the Ravens and plan to stay here and help them win championships,” DeCosta said in a statement issued by the Ravens at the end of the 2012 regular season.  “I have no intentions of leaving this team.”

Of course, one should never say never in terms of his future, but DeCosta has been with the Ravens since 1996 and is considered a critical part of the organization’s present and future. It’s difficult to view Dolphins owner Stephen Ross’ inquiry as anything more than a pipe dream considering DeCosta has turned down far more attractive job inquiries before.

The 57-year-old Newsome reiterated last January that DeCosta was the man who will eventually take his place but wasn’t thinking about retirement anytime soon.

“I know he’s going to be [the successor],” Newsome said during the week of Super Bowl XLVII. “Steve has said that. I know the Ravens will be in good hands when that time comes. That’s a long time away though.”

 

 

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Ravens enter Monday night controlling own path to AFC North title

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Ravens enter Monday night controlling own path to AFC North title

Posted on 16 December 2013 by Luke Jones

Sunday’s NFL action brought good and bad news to the Ravens as they traveled to Detroit for a critical nationally-televised meeting with the Lions.

With Cincinnati falling hard to Pittsburgh in a 30-20 final at Heinz Field Sunday night, the Ravens now control their own path to a third consecutive AFC North title if they are able to win their final three games to conclude the regular season. Should Baltimore beat Detroit and New England next Sunday, a Week 17 meeting with the Bengals would decide the division as the Ravens would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Cincinnati with a victory in the season finale.

However, the bad news for the 7-6 Ravens Sunday was the Miami Dolphins earning an impressive win over New England to temporarily land in the No. 6 spot in the AFC with an 8-6 record. Baltimore owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over Miami with a Week 5 win earlier in the season, but the Dolphins finish the season with a road game against Buffalo in Week 16 and a home game against the Jets in Week 17, leaving the Ravens with an even smaller margin for error than anticipated a couple weeks ago.

With Miami and 7-7 San Diego both scoring big wins in Week 15, the Ravens were reminded that there will be no such thing as backing into the playoffs like they did a year ago in losing four of their last five to finish 10-6 before making their remarkable run to Super Bowl XLVII. It’s becoming apparent that the AFC postseason is void of any juggernauts — like Seattle is shaping up to be in the NFC — and is setting up nicely for any one team to get hot at the perfect time, but the Ravens’ biggest obstacle is now to simply qualify for the tournament.

Perhaps the biggest message to take away from Sunday’s action is that the Ravens need to continue to win and build on the momentum created by a three-game winning streak to finish out their recent homestand. Otherwise, they’ll be depending on help from other teams to advance to the postseason for a sixth consecutive season, and that’s never a good feeling to be playing difficult games at the end of the season while needing to keep an eye on the scoreboard.

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Playoffs?!?!?!?!?

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Playoffs?!?!?!?!?

Posted on 11 December 2013 by Thyrl Nelson

There are 3 weeks remaining in the season for the Ravens, and all other teams for that matter. The good news is that the Ravens are very much in control of their own playoff destiny; if they win their remaining 3 games nothing can keep them from the playoffs. There is however, still little reason to believe that the Ravens will win all 3 games. The other good news is that they probably won’t have to. The bad news then, is that there are a myriad of possibilities on how the season plays out and what it might mean from a Ravens perspective.

 

Here is a comprehensive breakdown of all scenarios and possible tie-break situations the Ravens might face as the season winds down:

 

Ravens

Record 7-6     Conference Record 6-4     Division Record 3-2

Remaining Games: @DET, vs NE, @CIN

 

Bengals

Record 9-4     Conference Record 7-3     Division Record 2-2

Remaining Games: @PIT, vs MIN, vs BAL

This one is pretty straightforward, if the Ravens are going to catch the Bengals they have to beat the Bengals…they’ll also need Cincinnati to lose at least one other game. Any tie between the Ravens and Bengals would go to the Ravens because it will require the Ravens to beat the Bengals for the second time this season, thereby giving Baltimore the head-to-head tiebreaker.

 

Steelers

Record 5-8     Conference Record 4-6     Division Record 2-2

Remaining Games: vs. CIN, @GB, vs CLE

At 8-8 Ravens would lose the tiebreaker, either by division record if they failed to beat CIN (they’d be 3-3 to PIT’s 4-2) or by common opponents The Ravens beat HOU lost to DEN, the Steelers lost to OAK & TEN, meaning the Ravens would be 7-7 vs common opponents and the Steelers would be 8-6.

At 7-9 the Ravens would win the tiebreaker if they beat the Bengals and the Steelers lost to either the Bengals or Browns with a 4-2 division record to Pittsburgh’s 3-3. The Steelers would win the tie breaker by common opponents if the teams wound up with the same divisional record.

 

Dolphins

Record 7-6     Conference Record 6-3

Remaining Games: vs NE, @BUF, vs NYJ

The Ravens have the tiebreaker vs the Dolphins by virtue of their head-to-head victory over Miami. That could change though if the tie is between more than just 2 teams.

 

Jets

Record 6-7     Conference Record 3-7

Remaining Games: @CAR, vs CLE, @MIA

The Ravens have the tiebreaker vs the Jets by virtue of their head-to-head victory over New York. That could change though if the tie is between more than just 2 teams.

 

Titans

Record 5-8     Conference Record 4-6

Remaining Games: vs AZ, @JAX, vs HOU

At 8-8 Ravens would win tie-breaker by conference record if they win 1 more AFC game. If Ravens lose to CIN & NE but beat DET the tie-breaker becomes strength of victory (common opponents are PIT, HOU, NYJ & DEN both teams would be 3-2).

Right now the Titans 5 victories are over teams with 26 combined wins and they’d have to win their final 3 games accounting for 14 more wins so far for a total of 40 opponents’ wins. The teams that the Titans have beaten and would have to beat have 21 combined games remaining.

The Ravens 7 wins are over teams with a combined 36 wins and 1 tie and would have to win one of their last 3 games over a team with 7, 9 or 10 wins. That plus the 26 games that those opponents have remaining would seem to position the Ravens in control of the tiebreaker over Tennessee at 8-8.

At 7-9 the Ravens would win the tiebreaker by conference record with a Titans loss to Jacksonville or by common opponents with a loss to Houston. If the Titans lost to Arizona instead the tiebreaker would instead go to strength of victory where the Ravens wield a heavy advantage.

*At 7-9 there would also seem to be a likelihood that more than 2 teams would be vying for the spot.

 

Chargers

Record 6-7     Conference Record 3-6

Remaining Games: @DEN, vs OAK, vs KC

At 9-7 the Ravens would win the tiebreaker over San Diego by conference record 7-5 or 8-4 to the Chargers 6-6.

At 8-8 the Ravens would win the tiebreaker over San Diego by conference record 7-5 or 6-6 to the Chargers 5-7.

At 7-9 The Ravens win the tiebreaker over San Diego 6-6 to the Chargers 4-8.

 

3-Way Ties

*Multi-team ties require divisional ties to be broken first. Refer to above for Ravens Steelers tie break scenarios.

 

Ravens, Dolphins & Titans

At 8-8 if Ravens beat DET, lose to CIN & NE tiebreaker goes to MIA by conference record.

If Ravens lose to Detroit beat CIN or NE, TEN eliminated by conference record, then Ravens win head-to-head vs Dolphins.

At 7-9 Tennessee is eliminated on conference record unless their loss is to AZ. If TEN loses to AZ and all teams are 7-9 with 6-6 conference records and strength of victory would decide the tie. Here’s a strength of victory refresher:

-The Titans 5 victories are over teams with 26 combined wins. They’d have to beat Jacksonville and Houston with a combined 6 wins so far.

-The Ravens 7 wins are over teams with a combined 36 wins and 1 tie.

-The Dolphins 7 wins are over opponents with 41 wins so far.

The 3 weeks remaining in the season and the successes and failures of the teams beaten by the Ravens, Dolphins & Titans in those 3 weeks could change a lot, but for now advantage Dolphins.

 

Ravens, Dolphins & Chargers

Chargers eliminated by conference record. If Ravens and Dolphins are tied in conference records then Ravens win head-to-head vs Dolphins, if conference records are not equal winner is determined by conference record.

Ravens, Titans & Chargers

Chargers eliminated by conference record, revert to Ravens Titans tiebreakers above.

Ravens, Jets & Titans

Jets eliminated by conference record, revert to Ravens & Titans tiebreakers above.

Ravens, Jets & Chargers

Ravens win by virtue of conference record.

4-Way Ties

Ravens, Jets, Titans & Chargers

Jets and Chargers eliminated on conference record. Refer to Ravens & Titans tiebreakers for the rest.

Ravens, Dolphins, Titans & Chargers

Chargers eliminated by conference record. Refer to Ravens, Titans & Dolphins 3-way tiebreaker for the rest.

 

 

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Contender or pretender: Sizing up the AFC wild-card race

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Contender or pretender: Sizing up the AFC wild-card race

Posted on 03 December 2013 by Luke Jones

For the Ravens and a number of other AFC teams who’ve plodded along with a .500 record or slightly worse through the first three quarters of the 2013 season, the final sprint is here in determining who will grab the coveted second wild-card spot as Kansas City is all but guaranteed the No. 5 seed.

Of course, coach John Harbaugh and his team still hold hope that their Week 17 meeting with the Cincinnati Bengals will provide an opportunity to play for the AFC North title, but the Ravens will need their division counterpart to slip up to reduce the deficit to just one game entering that final contest at Paul Brown Stadium on Dec. 29. In the meantime, the Ravens simply must focus on winning games and securing their current grip on the No. 6 seed in the AFC as their 6-6 record equals the Dolphins — and an Oct. 6 victory over Miami gives them the tie-breaking nod.

Following this Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings that concludes the current three-game homestand, the Ravens have the most difficult path of any of the wild-card contenders over the final three weeks in playing three teams projected to land in the postseason. Baltimore figures to need to win three of its final four games in the final month for a good chance to maintain its grip on the No. 6 seed, meaning the Ravens will likely need to win two of three against Detroit, New England, and Cincinnati and only the Patriots game will be played at M&T Bank Stadium in Week 16.

The Ravens’ 6-4 conference record stacks up well with the rest of the field, but the outcome of their two remaining AFC games will loom large should they find themselves in a number of tie-breaking situations.

Here’s a look at the rest of the field as I determine who the contenders and the pretenders are:

MIAMI (6-6) – CONTENDER
Conference record: 5-3
Remaining schedule: at Pittsburgh, New England, at Buffalo, New York Jets
Skinny: It would have been unsurprising to see the Dolphins fold in November with the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin situation hanging over their heads, but Miami has rebounded from an embarrassing loss to Tampa Bay to win two of its last three. The Dolphins are in the best position to challenge the Ravens mathematically, but their next two games will make or break them as they go to Heinz Field before playing the Patriots at home. Just one win over the Steelers or New England would put incredible heat on the Ravens over the final two weeks against difficult opponents. Of course, the Dolphins’ Week 5 loss to Baltimore continues to doom them if those two teams finish tied for the No. 6 spot with no one else in the mix.

TENNESSEE (5-7) – PRETENDER
Conference record: 4-5
Remaining schedule: at Denver, Arizona, at Jacksonville, Houston
Skinny: Their current record and remaining schedule still suggest the Titans have a slim chance, but the season-ending injury to quarterback Jake Locker last month and two losses to a vulnerable Indianapolis team in their last three games have all but sealed their fate. Backup Ryan Fitzpatrick had been playing well before an awful performance this past Sunday, but the next two games figure to be the final nails in the coffin to the Titans’ playoff hopes. Tennessee started fast this season, but only two wins since the start of October clearly scream pretender in an already-mediocre field.

PITTSBURGH (5-7) – CONTENDER
Conference record: 4-5
Remaining schedule: Miami, Cincinnati, at Green Bay, Cleveland
Skinny: Many eulogized the Steelers’ season following the Thanksgiving night result, but Pittsburgh could still be the biggest threat in the wild-card race with three remaining home games. A normally-intimidating trip to Lambeau Field in Week 16 to take on the Packers could also be easier should Aaron Rodgers be shut down for the rest of the season as some are speculating. A Steelers win over the Bengals in Week 15 would help the Ravens in their quest for the division title, but Baltimore’s season split with Pittsburgh creates a more complicated tiebreaker that could come down to division record or even record in common games. Perhaps more than anything else, Ravens fans begrudgingly know it’s never a good idea to count out Ben Roethlisberger, meaning the Steelers still have a shot.

SAN DIEGO (5-7) – PRETENDER
Conference record: 3-6
Remaining schedule: New York Giants, at Denver, Oakland, Kansas City
Skinny: The Chargers’ home loss to Cincinnati on Sunday not only failed to do the Ravens any favors in the AFC North race but landed Mike McCoy’s team in the pretender category. San Diego has arguably looked better than any of the other wild-card contenders — the Ravens included — when playing at its best, but inconsistency has once again plagued the Chargers as it seems to annually. They have three remaining home games, but the Chargers have already lost three games at Qualcomm Stadium and are just as likely to lay an egg against the Giants or the Raiders than to pull off an upset over the Broncos or the Chiefs. Their abysmal conference record won’t do them any favors in a tie-breaking scenario, so San Diego’s only real hope is to run the table.

NEW YORK (5-7) – PRETENDER
Conference record: 2-7
Remaining schedule: Oakland, at Carolina, Cleveland, at Miami
Skinny: Only two weeks ago we were talking about the Jets holding the No. 6 spot in the conference, but they’ve crashed and burned since then with a road loss to the Ravens and an embarrassing home defeat to Miami by 20 points this past Sunday. Their quarterback situation is the worst of any of the teams still vying for a wild-card spot as Geno Smith hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since before Halloween. The Jets’ remaining schedule isn’t awful, but they appear far more likely to lose their four remaining games than to go on a run necessary to land the No. 6 seed. New York was still better than many expected this year, but a dysfunctional offense has finally sunk the Jets after some impressive wins earlier in the season.

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Despite crowded wild-card picture, Ravens’ task clear over final month

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Despite crowded wild-card picture, Ravens’ task clear over final month

Posted on 02 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens entered the weekend with the rare chance to not only rest but take a long look at the rest of a crowded AFC playoff picture.

Moving into the No. 6 spot in the conference by way of their 22-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last Thursday night, the Ravens could give thanks at the end of the holiday weekend for still holding the final wild-card position due to their tie-breaking win over the 6-6 Miami Dolphins earlier in the season. But four teams linger with 5-7 records, and different factors are working for and against them in the chase to play football in January.

There’s plenty of watching and wondering what will happen over the season’s final four weeks.

“Everybody is playing everybody right now,” coach John Harbaugh said. “With so many teams involved, it’s going to be the way it’s going to be. One team wins, another teams loses. A lot of times, it helps us either way, and it hurts us both ways — it doesn’t really matter.”

The Dolphins have only one game remaining against teams that are .500 or better (New England).

Pittsburgh plays three of its final four games at Heinz Field and only one of those four contests comes against an opponent with a winning record (Cincinnati).

Despite a crippling quarterback situation, the New York Jets play only one team with a winning record and it’s an NFC opponent (Carolina).

After a disappointing home loss to the Bengals that did no favors to the Ravens’ AFC North title hopes, the Chargers still play three of the final four games at home.

And even 5-7 Tennessee has games remaining against Jacksonville and Houston, two of the worst teams in the NFL.

It’s a lot to process as we start tracking conference marks, records against common opponents, and strength of victory, but Harbaugh and the Ravens choose to focus only on what they can control with so many scenarios still alive with four games to go. The hope of a division title will depend on the Bengals slipping at least once or twice leading into the Week 17 meeting between the teams in Cincinnati, but advancing to the postseason for a sixth consecutive season is a clear path if the Ravens can avoid treacherous detours along the way.

“What matters is us; we just have to win,” Harbaugh said. “If we win games, things are going to work out for us. If we don’t, things are going to be tough. That’s what we have to take care of; we have to take care of ourselves.”

Though facing the best running back on the planet in Adrian Peterson doesn’t sound like a layup, the Ravens will face their last opponent with a record below .500 Sunday when the Minnesota Vikings come to town to conclude a three-game homestand. After that, the road becomes bumpier than at any other point this season with a Monday night road game at NFC North-leading Detroit, a Sunday night home finale against AFC East-leading New England, and a regular-season finale in Cincinnati.

The Ravens hold the one-game edge over all No. 6 seed contenders after Miami, but they’ll still need to win three of their final four to get to the 9-7 mark, a standard that would very likely put them in the postseason. An 8-8 record could still conceivably land the No. 6 seed in the AFC, but such a path will depend on tie-breakers and considerable help from other results.

The good news is Baltimore appears to be getting hot at the right time. After winning two straight for only the second time all season, the Ravens are back at .500 and are on the verge of getting tight end Dennis Pitta back to provide a boost to a below-average offense. Experience is certainly on their side as they can simply point to last year to remember it’s all about clicking when the stakes are at their highest.

However, these Ravens are also 1-5 on the road and figure to need to win at least one of their final two road games. Only one of Baltimore’s six wins — their Nov. 10 home win over the Bengals — has come against teams currently holding a winning record and only one other victory — an Oct. 6 win at Miami — came against a team at the .500 mark.

The Ravens believe they’re getting better and are peaking at the right time. They’ll have every opportunity to show that in the month of December.

Their playoff lives will depend on it.

“We are in position to control our own destiny,” Harbaugh said. “That is what you try to accomplish going into December, so we’ve accomplished that. Now it’s up to us to make the most of it and to go ahead and control our destiny, win the games we have to win, starting with this one – and this is the only one that matters right now – and take it from there.”

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Ravens emerge from Week 13 action holding No. 6 seed in AFC

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Ravens emerge from Week 13 action holding No. 6 seed in AFC

Posted on 01 December 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

Armed with the luxury of sitting back and watching the rest of the NFL’s Week 13 action play out Sunday after a 22-20 win over Pittsburgh on Thursday night, the Ravens maintained control of the No. 6 seed in the AFC.

Miami was the only other of the six 5-6 teams entering Week 13 to emerge with a victory to improve to 6-6, but the Ravens hold the tiebreaker due to their Week 5 win over the Dolphins in early October.

The bad news on Sunday came in the form of the Cincinnati Bengals’ 17-10 win over San Diego that allowed them to keep a two-game lead over the Ravens with an 8-4 record in the AFC North. However, a Bengals loss to the Chargers would have forced a three-way tie for the sixth spot in the AFC, a scenario that would have resulted in Miami winning the current tiebreaker due to a superior conference record over the Ravens and San Diego.

The Ravens will welcome the Minnesota Vikings to town next Sunday while Miami travels to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh to take on the 5-7 Steelers.

Of course, the road to the playoffs will grow much more difficult for the Ravens after that as they play three projected playoff teams to conclude the regular season — two of them coming on the road.

Here are the Week 14 games impacting the AFC playoff picture next weekend:

Minnesota (3-8-1) at Baltimore (6-6)

Indianapolis (8-4) at Cincinnati (8-4)

Oakland (4-8) at New York Jets (5-7)

Miami (6-6) at Pittsburgh (5-7)

Tennessee (5-7) at Denver (10-2)

New York Giants (4-7) at San Diego (5-7)

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Deserving or not, Ravens remain firmly in AFC playoff hunt

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Deserving or not, Ravens remain firmly in AFC playoff hunt

Posted on 18 November 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

They don’t deserve to be in the postseason and certainly don’t look like a playoff team.

The eyeball test warrants a failing grade.

Too little consistency and too many bad losses will cost them at the end of the season.

They’re simply not good enough.

The following statements have been used over and over in describing the Ravens as they’ve lost four of their last five games to fall to 4-6 on the season and 2 1/2 games behind division-leading Cincinnati in the AFC North.

And those same descriptions can and have been used to describe the seven other teams currently jockeying for the final wild-card spot in the AFC playoff picture. In fact, “plodding” might be a better term to use in describing the race for the No. 6 seed in the conference.

Unless commissioner Roger Goodell elects to eliminate the final spot, a team with an underwhelming résumé through Week 11 will find itself playing in January as the final seed in the single-elimination tournament. The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins hold the slight edge at the moment over the rest of the pack at 5-5, but their flaws are as apparent as any of the six 4-6 teams chasing them.

“What it goes to show you is how close it is, and what a razor-thin margin it is in the National Football League,” coach John Harbaugh said in describing the current playoff picture. “That’s what makes the National Football League great. We would all rather be sitting here talking about being atop the division and chasing a home-field advantage or something like that. And that’s something that we were shooting for. We wanted to be in that position. We haven’t done the things we needed to do to be in that position.”

The frustration is understandable after a 4-6 start, but deeming the Ravens undeserving of the playoffs and writing them off are subjective statements that would be true in most seasons but are made in isolation from the rest of the field through Week 11. While I’m unwilling to say they’re definitively better than any of the other seven teams fighting for the final spot, you won’t convince me that any of those competitors are superior to the Ravens, either.

The truth is the AFC is mired in mediocrity once you look beyond Denver, New England, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Kansas City, making it difficult to predict which team — if any — will make a strong run over the final six weeks to sneak in. At this point, 10-6 would virtually guarantee the final playoff spot, but 9-7 has a good shot of being the season-ending target.

As mediocre as the entire field of 5-5 and 4-6 teams has looked, even an 8-8 record — or, gasp, 7-9? — with a favorable tie-breaker arsenal could conceivably be awarded with the No. 6 seed. Whether you elect to embrace that possibility with any level of enthusiasm is your choice.

With a head-to-head tie-breaking win over Miami and a meeting with the Jets this Sunday, the Ravens have an opportunity to gain the upper hand against the two teams they’re currently chasing in the wild-card race. That doesn’t mean they have the advantage over the rest of the field, but their chances appear no worse than any other team — even if you must hold your nose while saying that.

“We are right there. We can do it, and we’re good enough to do it,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve got every tool we need; all we have to do is go get it done. But that’s on us. We believe we have what it takes, but it’s up to us to prove it, and we’ve got to go prove it by winning these games.”

Whether the Ravens can do it remains to be seen, but three straight games at home starting Sunday provides a crucial opportunity to stack wins and ease the pain from their current 1-5 record on the road.

Here’s a look at the rest of the race for the AFC’s No. 6 seed in the current order in which teams stand based on tie-breaking procedures, which I’ll forgo including beyond conference records for now:

6. NEW YORK (5-5)
Conference record: 2-5
Remaining schedule: at Baltimore, Miami, Oakland, at Carolina, Cleveland, at Miami
Case for: Only one game remaining against a team with a winning record, league’s top-ranked run defense
Case against: Struggling rookie quarterback Geno Smith, minus-85 point differential (worst among the eight contenders for No. 6 seed)

7. MIAMI (5-5)
Conference record: 4-3
Remaining schedule: Carolina, at New York Jets, at Pittsburgh, New England, at Buffalo, New York Jets
Case for: One of the NFL’s better pass rushes, potential of young quarterback Ryan Tannehill
Case against: 31st in total offense, fallout from the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito saga

8. OAKLAND (4-6)
Conference record: 4-3
Remaining schedule: Tennessee, at Dallas, at New York Jets, Kansas City, at San Diego, Denver
Case for: Fourth-ranked run offense, sixth-ranked run defense
Case against: Unrest at quarterback position, 25th-ranked pass defense

9. TENNESSEE (4-6)
Conference record: 3-4
Remaining schedule: at Oakland, at Indianapolis, at Denver, Arizona, at Jacksonville, Houston
Case for: Seventh-ranked pass defense, fifth in conference in takeaways
Case against: Season-ending injury to quarterback Jake Locker, four remaining road games

10. PITTSBURGH (4-6)
Conference record: 3-4
Remaining schedule: at Cleveland, at Baltimore, Miami, Cincinnati, at Green Bay, Cleveland
Case for: One game remaining against teams currently above .500, veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger
Case against: 30th-ranked rush offense, 26th in run defense

11. BALTIMORE (4-6)
Conference record: 4-4
Remaining schedule: New York Jets, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, at Detroit, New England, at Cincinnati
Case for: Expected return of Dennis Pitta, four remaining home games
Case against: 31st in yards per carry and 30th in total offense, three games remaining against teams currently above .500

12. CLEVELAND (4-6)
Conference record: 3-4
Remaining schedule: Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, at New England, Chicago, at New York Jets, at Pittsburgh
Case for: Fifth in total defense, play-making ability of wide receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron
Case against: 26th-ranked rush offense, 10th in AFC in takeaways

13. SAN DIEGO (4-6)
Conference record: 2-5
Remaining schedule: at Kansas City, Cincinnati, New York Giants, at Denver, Oakland, Kansas City
Case for: Fourth-ranked passing offense, plus-4 point differential (best among the eight No.6 seed contenders)
Case against: 27th in pass defense, four games remaining against teams currently above .500

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