This season, the Baltimore Ravens have been the best worst team in the NFL. There have been several losses which should’ve been wins. But, due to calls just not going Baltimore’s way (for instance, their trick play versus Arizona should have been a thing), an astounding number of penalties and freak injuries, and an inexperienced receiving and defensive backfield corps that just haven’t gotten the job done, the Ravens have hobbled to a 2-6 record and are, effectively, out of the playoff hunt.
The Jaguars, on the other hand, were kind of expected to still be close to the bottom of the pack. In addition to having a young, but still inexperienced, group of receivers, they made few offseason moves to offset their losses (and their divisional rivals’ gains). Also, they’re the Jaguars. Unlike the Bengals of late, they still haven’t been able to turn the corner from loveable loser to powerhouse.
So, with this bit of introduction out the way, should Ravens fans be worried about going 2-7 to “start” the season for the first time in ever? Not as much as some would think.
For starters, the Jaguars usually fail to get it done away from Jacksonville. Home team advantage aside, Blake Bortles is still young and prone to make mistakes if people get in his face. Expect the Ravens defense to go after him hard and often. With regards to his long-ball ability and the Ravens’ somewhat ineptitude to defend against the big air play, if the Ravens cab avoid falling for the trap that all-out blitzes present (and cut down on the penalties), they should be good in that department. And T.J. Yelton is dangerous. Damned dangerous. But, when they’re playing without 12 penalties a game, so are the Ravens’ defensive players. Suggs isn’t there and that hurts. But the rest of the squad, in recent weeks, has stepped their game up. No amount of Yelton and Bernard Pierce can change that (yes, Bernard Pierce is a Jaguar now),
On the Ravens side of the ball, they’ve got to make sure they make catches when it counts. Sounds simple, right? But when you’re down a future HOFer in Steve Smith, Sr., and the rest of your receivers have had a roller-coaster season with brilliant plays one down and easy drops the next, making those small catches that eat up clock and yards are needed. Additionally, open up holes for Forsett to get through. He’s shown recently that he’s still that player from last year. He just needs more room to showcase it.
Now, while I tend to avoid predicting final scores, I do foresee a Ravens victory.