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If Ravens don't give up, you shouldn't either

Can the Ravens still dig themselves out of this hole?

Obviously, optimism is in short supply these days among Ravens fans, and there is plenty of reason to believe that the team's playoff quest is over after losing four of its first five games. The devastating home loss to the Cleveland Browns last week certainly left that impression.

The proverbial glass looks a lot more than half-empty right now, but the math can still work if the Ravens can figure out a way to stop making stupid mistakes at critical moments and start finishing games.

Though it's hard to argue with the history of 1-4 teams, it's possible that we're looking at an anomalous AFC this season. The number of undefeated teams going into Week 6 has created a disturbance in that force known as NFL parity. If you look at the standings, you'll notice that there are only three non-division leaders in the AFC with as many as three victories, and all of them have issues that could keep them from padding their wild-card credentials.

The Ravens are sitting within one game of everybody else, so the math can still work for them if they can do what you're supposed to do when you're in a hole -- stop digging.

Of course, we're just talking about the mathematical possibilities, not the actual condition of the team, which certainly is problematic. The Ravens are banged up and undermanned right now, so even the struggling San Francisco 49ers appear to be a pretty formidable opponent, particularly on the road.

The Ravens obviously need to find a way to win Sunday's game and then get some players back before their Monday night road game against the tough Arizona Cardinals. That could be the night that keeps real hope alive because of the way the schedule has been laid out for them this season.

Going in, a lot of people felt that if the Ravens could survive this ridiculous seven-game stretch that included five road games and three of those out west -- even with a 3-4 record -- they would still be positioned to make a second-half run to the postseason. That's still mathematically possible, but it remains to be seen if it is competitively realistic.

This conversation could end with a loss Sunday, but the Ravens could keep hope alive long enough to make their appearance on Monday Night Football a real moment of truth.

Stranger things have happened.

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