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All eyes on the Ravens’ playoff push

| December 19, 2018, 11:44 AM

Rams Head
This season was supposed to be a fairly unremarkable one for the Baltimore Ravens. The team was seen as being somewhat caught in the middle between division contention and a rebuilding effort, with the result that most projections were of a mediocre campaign. Sports Illustrated predicted a 7-9 finish in the AFC North, and this seemed to be more or less on par with the broader expectations.

Things have gone better than expected to this point however. At the time of this writing, the Ravens are 8-6 and in the playoff picture, though not with much room to spare. It now feels like a good time to take a look at some of the key factors in the playoff push, and the overall outlook for the team at this point.

The Oddsmakers’ Outlook

The oddsmakers tend to know best, and now that New Jersey has its own listings for sports betting, it’s easy to get a somewhat local perspective on playoff and Super Bowl odds and things of that nature. At this moment, the Ravens are behind the Steelers in terms of odds to take the division (which should be fairly obvious going by the standings at the moment), and depending on where you look, the team has about the ninth or tenth best odds at a Super Bowl. However, following Week 15, the Ravens are favored – if by a narrow margin – to make the playoffs.

A Difficult Schedule

The downside of the Ravens’ playoff push is that the schedule for the end of the season is difficult. The team will spend Week 16 in Los Angeles facing the Chargers, for whom Philip Rivers is mounting both an MVP campaign and a potential Super Bowl challenge. And the Ravens will close out the season hosting the Browns – a game that will see Baltimore favored, but which also could have major playoff implications for both teams on the line. The likeliest scenario is that the Ravens go 1-1 in these two games, which would be enough, but things could get tight.

A New Offensive Duo

The Ravens’ offense has been a little bit of a question mark at times the last few seasons, and even heading into this one. There really hasn’t been much stability at the running back position since the unfortunate downfall of Ray Rice; and while Joe Flacco remains a hero to Baltimore for having won a Super Bowl, he is at this point a below average quarterback in the league. Just in time for the playoff push though, the offense seems to be finding an identity, primarily behind the duo of Lamar Jackson and Gus Edwards. Jackson is unquestionably the quarterback of the future, and while he’s not a terrific passing threat yet, his ability to run makes him both entertaining and effective. Edwards, meanwhile, came out of nowhere to start dominating from the running back position, and now has fans asking if he can keep up the pace. If he can, and if Jackson rises to the occasion, Baltimore will be dangerous.

A Potential League-Best Defense

As has become traditional of the Ravens’ best teams, this group’s defense is among the best in the league. ESPN’s total defensive metrics rank Baltimore second behind only Houston, and Houston’s defensive reputation is boosted by a very high sack total in a division of relatively weak offensive lines. The Ravens have held the Chiefs to 24 (a low total for their ridiculously explosive offense), the Falcons to 16, the Titans to 0, and the Steelers to a total 37 points in two contests. This defense can get the better of anyone, which is the main reason that some are starting to feel the Ravens could be a dark horse contender.

Rams Head

Category: LIFE IN THE AREA, Local News, NEWS, Sports

About the Author - Stephanie Fahie

Stefanie is a local blogger and social media content marketer from Maryland. She has an unhealthy obsession with puns, sarcasm and caffeinated beverages. She can usually be found on a baseball field!

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