Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe catches a 19-yard touchdown pass behind Ravens safety Ed Reed in the first quarter. Shiancoe caught two touchdowns in the Vikings' 33-31 win over the Ravens. (Baltimore Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr.)
While the sting of three straight narrow
defeats might have diminished for the Ravens
during the bye, the lasting effect is a
small margin of error for the final two
months of the regular season.
Recent NFL history says the Ravens need
to reach 10 victories to lock up a playoff
berth for a second straight season. That
translates to winning seven of their last
10 games, a homestretch
some of the best
stingiest defenses in
At 3-3, the Ravens
say they aren't making
any playoff calculations.
coach John Harbaugh
But the Ravens
know what lies
ahead: the undefeated
grudge matches against their fiercest AFC
North rival and a December date at Lambeau
A tougher road than last season to the
playoffs? Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson
simply shrugs his shoulders.
"We definitely have a tough road ahead of
us," Johnson said. "But this is the NFL. You
don't have any William and Marys on the
In fact, the Ravens have seven games
against teams with winning records, but
that only touches on the challenges that
Astruggling Ravens secondary has seven
meetings against quarterbacks ranked in
the top half of the NFL in average passing
yards per game (Manning, Ben Roethlisberger
twice, Aaron Rodgers, Kyle Orton, Jay Cutler and Carson Palmer).
A resurgent Ravens offense has seven
games against defenses ranked in the top
half of the NFL in fewest points allowed
(Denver, Indianapolis, Green Bay, Pittsburgh
twice, Cincinnati and Chicago).
If the Ravens make the postseason, they
would certainly have earned it.
"Even though we're 3-3, this team believes
in itself and each other," center Matt
"I'm not happy about being 3-3 but we still
feel good about what we're doing and how
we're doing it."
This season has been an emotional ride.
For the first time in team history, the Ravens
scored more than 30 points in each of
their first three games, running out to a 3-0
start. Then came three straight losses by a
combined 11 points.
The Ravens can't afford many more missteps.
During the past five seasons, teams
that have won 10 or more games have made
the playoffs 94 percent of the time (48 of
51 teams). But teams that won nine games
advanced to the postseason just 40 percent
(eight of 20) of the time.
Harbaugh said he wouldn't be breaking
out the calculator during the bye.
"You know how you make the playoffs?
You win games," Harbaugh said. "And
that's what we need to do."
The Ravens, who are one game behind
the Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals in the
AFC North, are looking to make the playoffs
in back-to-back seasons for the first
time since 2000-2001.
"Right now is not the time to make projections,"
tight end Todd Heap said. "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. We don't
have a lot of room for error right now."