Ravens' 20th season is an awful lot like their 10th

The Ravens' 20th season has not gone well. Their 10th didn't, either.

When the Ravens play the Cleveland Browns tonight on "Monday Night Football," a national television audience will see just what a trainwreck this 2015 season has been.

Joe Flacco? Out. Steve Smith Sr.? Out. Terrell Suggs? Out.

In other words, the players who are most recognizable to that national audience aren't playing.

It was supposed to be fun and festive 20th season in the NFL for the Ravens, but there's been little fun since Week 1 and Festivus almost certainly won't be celebrated in Baltimore after Week 17.

It's a lot like the last time the Ravens tried to celebrate a big anniversary year, in 2005, their 10th season as a franchise.

That year, a wide receiver picked in the first round of the draft (Mark Clayton) didn't exactly pan out as hoped, the leader on defense (Ray Lewis) missed most of the season because of injury and the starting quarterback (Kyle Boller) didn't play in seven games.

This year, rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman never made it onto the field, Suggs never made it out of Denver and Flacco will miss six games after tearing the ACL and MCL in his knee last week.

The 2005 Ravens celebrated the organization's 10th season in the league with a 6-10 record. The 2015 Ravens are on their way toward a much worse season at 3-7 with six games to play.

I wonder how the 20th anniversary merchandise is selling?

To be fair, this year's team has been in every game, whereas that 2005 squad just wasn't terribly good at anything. They had the league's 24th-ranked offense and 28th-ranked defense. This year's 10th-ranked offense and 16th-ranked defense makes a sane person insane wondering how the Ravens have managed to lose so often.

So, here's the bright side: in the Ravens' 11th season, they went 13-3 (the best regular-season record in franchise history) and returned to the postseason.

The Ravens' 21st season could go the same way. No NFL team with a decent front office and coaching staff is at the bottom for long. Here's betting the organization turns things around and starts a string of four straight playoff appearances in 2016.

If history is a trusty guide, though, temper your expectations for that 25th anniversary season in 2020.

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