The Baltimore Ravens suffered a difficult 28-27 defeat at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. The Ravens were left to pay for several missed opportunities throughout the course of the contest. The loss does significant damage to Baltimore’s reputation as potential Super Bowl contenders. Is MVP candidate quarterback Lamar Jackson enough?
Jacksonville scored the game-winning touchdown in the dying seconds of the fourth quarter. An aggressive move to attempt a go-ahead two-point conversion helped seal Baltimore’s fate. A late-game defensive collapse against the lowly Jaguars isn’t exactly indicative of a squad that’s capable of hoisting the Lombardi in February.
It followed up an uninspiring showing against the Carolina Panthers the week before (an unconvincing 13-3 victory). The Ravens managed 308 total net yards of offense. These Ravens aren’t trending in the desired direction.
Through 11 contests, the defensive numbers indicate the Ravens possess serious issues that could hamper their postseason aspirations. Their passing defense is allowing 253.8 yards per contest. They’re the 27th-ranked unit in that department despite investing heavily into personnel upgrades through Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton.
The Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs remain favorites to represent the AFC in the conference’s championship game. Nothing about Baltimore’s struggling pass defense suggests they can contain Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen in the postseason. It’s a hurdle the Ravens must clear in order to achieve their lofty postseason dreams.
Baltimore’s offense possesses clear weaknesses as well. Their passing offense ranks 26th across the league (193.4/game). A wide receiver group that already lacked proven talent and depth got even weaker when Rashod Bateman suffered a season-ending foot injury. Starting tight end Mark Andrews has missed time as well. The Ravens have been forced to rely on the likes of Isaiah Likely, Demarcus Robinson, and Devin Duvernay. Not exactly a murderer’s row of pass-catchers.
Baltimore’s offense revolves around Jackson and running the football. But they’ll almost certainly encounter a scenario in January where they’ll need to be more effective through the air. The league’s top four passing offenses are the Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Bills, and Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens couldn’t possibly avoid those four high-octane passing offenses in January. They lack the passing-game prowess to go head-to-head. It could be Baltimore’s undoing.
The 7-4 Ravens remain tied for first place in the AFC North. Their divisional foe Bengals are nipping at their heels, however. Cincinnati’s win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, paired with Baltimore’s loss, means both squads stand at 7-4. Baltimore’s two-point win over the Bengals in October separates the two via the tiebreaker, but Baltimore’s margin for error has disappeared. A regular-season finale between the Ravens and Bengals looms especially large.
The Ravens may still find themselves in the wild-card hunt as opposed to division winners. The AFC’s playoff picture is cluttered and unpredictable. The New England Patriots and Los Angeles Chargers are currently out of the postseason. They’ll be gunning to replace one of the AFC’s playoff holders. The Ravens must proceed with extreme caution.
Sunday’s defeat further exposed chinks in Baltimore’s armor both offensively and defensively. Head coach John Harbaugh will work tirelessly around the clock to search for solutions for his Ravens’ shortcomings. The blueprint has been laid for Baltimore’s postseason demise.
- Feb 01, 2023
- Jan 31, 2023