Will the Real Baltimore Ravens Please Stand Up?
What Ravens team will show up on Sunday?
Will it be the dominating bunch that held a four-game win streak in which they beat their opponent by an average of nearly nine points? Or will it be the team of recurring heartbreak who finds a new, impossible way to lose every week?
Last week we know who showed up.
With a 94.9% win probability midway through the fourth quarter, it seemed Baltimore had finally found a winning formula. But just as they’d done in their three prior losses this season, they made it interesting, too interesting.
The Broncos Bust Storyline
This week’s opponent, the Broncos, are anything but interesting.
They’ve been as disappointing as any team in recent memory, mortgaging their whole future for a QB who’s failed to score more than 23 points in any one game this year.
Wilson’s cringe-worthy on-field moments in 2022 are second only to the retina-burning display he provides off of it. It’s not fair he’s all of a sudden the league’s most-mocked player, but it’s a cruel, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world and lately, Wilson’s stunk.
This season, and throughout his career, he’s been aggressive, a trait that made him one of the league’s most exciting players for so many years in Seattle. But due to a combination of poor accuracy and a disappointing supporting cast of skill position players, Wilson’s aggressiveness hasn’t paid off.
He has the lowest completion percentage in the league (min. 10 games started) and has a quarterback rating lower than the number of times he’s been sacked this season (35). It’s hard to believe, but the Broncos’ season could be a lot worse if it weren’t for their fourth-ranked defense.
The Broncos are currently scoring fewer points per game (14.3) than the 2017 Cleveland Browns team that went 0-16. If the Broncos could have scored 20 points in every game this season, a mark that would be good for 23rd in the league, they would be 8-3 entering this game instead of 3-8. I say all of this to provide some perspective for us Ravens fans, so we may realize that however frustrating this season has been, it could always be worse.
Broncos Country, You’re Fried
The last nine words of my column a week ago were “don’t be surprised if Jacksonville pulls off the upset.”
I’ve never been less happy to have been right. And I can’t even say I was totally correct because I predicted a Baltimore victory, but I knew the Jags were sneaky and could pose some problems.
It’s safe to say I don’t have that same feeling about the Broncos. Sure, the Ravens have found a way to make some of the league’s flattest passing attacks look dynamic (Patriots, Browns, Giants), but it’s not even fair to call this week’s opponent flat. The Denver Broncos’ passing attack is concave, a hollow pit, filled a little more each week by the consistent trickle of tears supplied by Broncos’ country.
No Offense in Broncos Country
Teams that have given the Ravens trouble have spread it out and picked them apart through the air. The Broncos do not have that capacity. They’re a team built to run the ball starting a running back they signed off the waivers in October.
They’re a team whose first-year head coach made his name coordinating an offense that got the ball out nearly as fast as anybody yet signed a quarterback who’s at his best holding onto the ball longer than everybody.
The only way the Ravens lose this game is with careless offense. Lamar must come to terms with the fact that offense will be hard to come by. Play clean football and 17 points wins this game. Get frustrated and try to fit balls into impossible windows against a very talented defense, and the result is less certain.
Jacksonville in the Rearview
It’s important that Baltimore put together an assertive victory after last week’s collapse. “No more close games” should be the motto as the regular season winds to a close. The narrative that this team can’t finish games seems to hold more and more truth with each passing choke job.
A double-digit victory would go a long way towards righting this ship and restoring this team’s confidence ahead of the looming postseason.