Despite the turmoil in Ravens Nation following Baltimore’s 19-17 home loss to the Packers, the Ravens are in a not-so-foreign position.
The Ravens sit at 3-3, the same record they had after six games in 2008 and 2009 – the start of Head Coach John Harbaugh’s tenure. Baltimore made the playoffs both years.
What will be essential in determining whether this year’s team follows the same path are the next three games.
Baltimore is entering a crucial stretch of three straight divisional games. It begins this Sunday in Pittsburgh, then (after a bye) they travel to Cleveland and come home to face the Bengals.
The Ravens are still very much in the thick of the race for the AFC North, and their performance over the next stretch will go a long way in determining who will get the division crown.
“It’s definitely the most important [stretch] to make a stand in our division,” defensive tackle Art Jones said. “Everything we want is still right in front of us.”
Winning the division is top priority, especially with one wild-card spot already looking claimed.
The Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos are both 6-0, so there will likely be two playoff teams out of the AFC West. That leaves just one more wild-card spot.
As it stands now, the Miami Dolphins are in the lead at 3-2. The Ravens, Browns, Titans and Chargers are all behind them at 3-3.
Winning the division is the most direct way into the playoffs, and still very attainable with five AFC North games remaining. It would also guarantee a home playoff game.
Baltimore is just one game behind the Cincinnati Bengals (4-2) and tied with the Browns, but holds the tiebreaker.
The Ravens spent a good chunk of the offseason specifically preparing for their divisional foes. Now they’ll put that work to use.