The Baltimore Ravens are entering the final quarter of the 2016 season with a very tenuous grasp on the lead for the AFC North division title. While they share a 7-5 record with the Pittsburgh Steelers as the best record in the division, they are currently seeded higher than their rivals due to the fact that they won the head-to-head game between the two teams earlier in the season.
But they may be facing one of their most difficult stretches of the year during the final four games, which includes three games away from their home turf, with trips to Foxboro, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati, while they also play host to the Eagles in between the first two away games.
In spite of the fact that they have a difficult assignment ahead of them through the home stretch, the Ravens are riding high after they throttled a listless Dolphins team in Baltimore by the score of 38-6. The 32-point margin, I believe, is the biggest margin, either in victory or defeat, for any team in the division so far this year.
And they believe that game has set the tone for the rest of the season, which has seen them climbing in a variety of power rankings, many of which put them ahead of the Steelers now. Of the task ahead of them, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said, “what degree of challenge is it? It’s a big challenge. It’s a huge challenge. We feel like we have just the men for the job in this room right here”.
The Ravens began the season with a three-game winning streak before losing their next four games. since dipping to 3-4, they have since gone 4-1 in a streak that started with the win over the Steelers. The only blemish in between was a loss to the Cowboys, which is also the Steelers’ most recent loss after three consecutive victories.
“We like the fact that we’re in a fight for the division championship”, Harbaugh said, which might be fair to say given that the Ravens only won five games last season—though two game against the Steelers. “That’s our first goal” he said of the division battle; it is “the starting point of everything we try to accomplish one week at a time. Now we have our toughest challenge”.
Still, Harbaugh in the Ravens are certainly not dismissing what an obstacle the Patriots present them as their next game on the schedule, and the veteran head coach was highly complimentary of New England’s organization as well as their performance on the field. They are tied for the best record in the AFC at 10-2, after all.
“We’re going to need to play our best football on Monday night up in New England to win that football game”, he said. “We do believe we have a chance to do that based on where we’re at right now. That’s what we’re shooting for”.
The Ravens, by the way, have the fifth-lowest strength of victory in the league this year, and that includes the winless Browns, though it should be noted that Baltimore’s two wins over Cleveland affects that ranking. The teams the Ravens have beaten combine for a winning percentage of just .315, compared to the Steelers’ .440, which is the 12th-highest in the league.