AFC North Still Up For Grabs

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The Ravens are one game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North, not to mention heading into the bye week with a three-game losing skid.

Nobody in the locker room is panicking.

The Ravens have always said that the easiest way to make the postseason is to simply win the division. Luckily for them, there are still two Steelers matchups and one each against Cleveland and Cincinnati remaining on the schedule.

"We could be a little better, but the bottom line is I think we still control our own destiny within the division," said quarterback Joe Flacco. "As long as we go out there and play the way we can, play the way we know we're going to, then I think we should be fine the rest of the season."

The Ravens, 3-3, were in a similar situation only one year ago. After only six games, it is still quite a long season.

In Week 5 of the 2008 campaign, the Ravens fell to 2-3 after rattling off three consecutive defeats. They were tied with the Cleveland Browns in the division and far behind the Steelers, who were 4-1 at the time.

All Baltimore did was regroup and finish the year 9-2, bringing the Ravens to 11-5 in head coach John Harbaugh's first season as a head coach, earning a Wild Card playoff berth along the way.

"I guess in order to understand your future, you've got to look back at your past," said wideout Derrick Mason. "We were kind of in the same situation last year, and then we were able to make a run toward the end. So, hopefully it bodes well for us again, where we're sitting 3-3 now, we come back out of the bye [and] we play some really tough teams.

"And the only thing we need to do is get one win first. Once we get one win and get this train to move, I think it's hard to stop us."

That next-game-only mentality is a philosophy that has the Ravens believing they can rebound again.

They will have to quickly with the undefeated Denver Broncos, a team that is playing some of the NFL's best football, coming to Baltimore on Nov. 1.

"Right now is not the time to make projections," stated tight end Todd Heap. "Right now is the time to focus on our next game. We can't really look forward. We've got to make sure we live for right now and take it one game at a time. That's going to be it for the rest of the season. We don't have a lot of room for error right now."

The Ravens turned it around last year in Week 6. Facing the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore opened up its offense to the tune of 105 rushing yards and one touchdown for running back Willis McGahee and a personal-best passer rating (at the time) of 120.0 for Flacco.

Of course, the 2009 version of the Ravens have been even more explosive on offense, with running back Ray Rice leading the league in total yardage from scrimmage and Flacco throwing the deep ball more than he did as a rookie.

And, the Ravens' defense has not lived up to the lofty standards it typically held through the years, as the unit is ranked 17th overall in the league (allowing 332.7 total yards per game).

"I don't know if they really compare to each other or not," Flacco said of the two squads. "All we can do right now is take one game at a time and go try to stack win on top of win and see where we are at the end of the next 10 weeks. I think as long as we do that, then we'll be all right.

"We feel like we have a good team. We just need to go out there and play a little bit better on Sunday. And being on this team last year, I think we'll do that."

The Ravens' three losses have come by a combined 11 points and they all came on last-minute drives.

There are still things to fix, mainly regarding the secondary and pass rush. But, that is where the bye can help.

The Ravens have extra time to prepare and get healthy before playing the Broncos, a luxury they didn't have in 2008 when they met the playoff-bound Dolphins for the first time.

"We're not there yet," Harbaugh said. "But you know what? If we win the next bunch in a row, we still won't be there, because we'll have the next meaningful game to play."

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