The trouble with a game like the one the Ravens lost to the New England Patriots on Monday night is that you can find a reason to draw just about any conclusion you want about their prospects for the remainder of the regular season.
If you want to believe they still have a navigable route to the playoffs, it's certainly possible to make that case after they nearly rallied from a 20-point deficit against one of pro football's most successful franchises.
If you think the offense is too incoherent for anyone to imagine it keeping up with the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Cincinnati Bengals at their home stadiums on the final two Sunday's of the season, there also was plenty of evidence of that at Gillette Stadium.
The Ravens can't even take the struggling Eagles for granted at home this weekend, and it appears they'll have to win out to reach the postseason, but that isn't out of the question, regardless of how lost they looked for much of Monday night's game.
This is the NFL, after all, where just about anything can happen on any given weekend. And these are the Ravens, who have a puncher's chance every time they take the field, even if they've been swinging at air for much of this season and all of the previous one.
It's all right to give them credit for not folding up after the Patriots rolled up a 23-3 lead in the third quarter, just like it was OK to celebrate their resilience after they pulled out of the discouraging four-game losing streak that took them up to their bye week.
The problem is that everything happens for a reason, so you can no more discount the first 38 unfortunate minutes of Monday's game than you can wipe away that terrible loss to the woeful New York Jets in Week 7, which is pretty much the difference between probably making the playoffs and probably not.
The Ravens did a little bit of everything wrong in the first half. Return specialist Devin Hester, who was finally released on Tuesday, allowed a punt to skip by him and roll all the way to the 1-yard line to set up a safety. The special teams unit allowed a blocked kick that ended Justin Tucker's streak of 35 successful field goal attempts. Joe Flacco threw an interception. The offense stalled in Patriots territory three times and managed just a long field goal in the final minute of the second quarter.
What they did right was keep their wits about them until the Patriots had a series of special teams breakdowns of their own, and then took full advantage of two quick fumbles to climb back into the game.
That's why it's problematic to make too much of their comeback, because it wasn't really of their own making. Though Flacco exploited the muffed punt and the fumbled kickoff return with nice touchdown throws, that didn't change the fact that the Ravens never completed a real drive.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, meanwhile, executed three long touchdown drives even though he was playing without favorite targets Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola. That doesn't count the 79-yard touchdown strike to Chris Hogan in the fourth quarter that essentially staved off the Ravens' late comeback attempt.
So, with the exception of a couple of minutes in the third quarter, the Ravens were soundly outplayed. They also lost top cornerback Jimmy Smith to an ankle injury, which should make things a little easier on Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz come Sunday.
The Eagles are the next must-win on the Ravens' December dance card, but what else is new? They have been standing on a ledge all season, but it's important to recognize that they are still standing after all they have been through.
If they cannot beat the Eagles, then the rest doesn't matter. If they do, their postseason fate might be decided on Christmas Day at Heinz Field in a showdown not unlike the one they almost survived on Monday night.
They've got a lot to figure out in a very short time to get where they want to go.