WASHINGTON — The Baltimore Ravens, who in the preseason were considered contenders for the 2015 Super Bowl, are on track for their worst year in team history.
The reality facing quarterback Joe Flacco and his corps is this: they are 1-5. With 10 games left, what do they have to look forward to?
“We’re not going to get disappointed. We’re not going to point fingers,” head coach John Harbaugh said to reporters this week.
All of the Ravens’ losses have been close games, with opponents’ victory margins six points or less.
So the question is: are the Ravens having bad luck or has the team gone downhill?
The hopeful team had a 55 percent chance to make the playoffs before the season started, according to fivethirtyeight.com’s 2015 NFL predictions.
After their 25-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, the Ravens now have just a slim 7 percent chance to make the playoffs, fivethirtyeight reports.
“We’ll just live with it,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll stand tall, and we’ll just keep fighting.”
But the fight will be a long one. Baltimore is tied for the worst record in the league with the Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars.
“We will turn it around,” Harbaugh said. “There’s no doubt about it. It’s going to happen, no matter how much some people doubt.”
While Harbaugh tries to remain optimistic, fans can’t deny that the Ravens seem to have lost their touch. They’ve allowed 162 points – an average of 27 points per game – this season and are sitting in last place in the AFC North.
What’s wrong? Mistakes, mistakes and mistakes.
Flacco and wide receiver Steven Smith Sr. aren’t looking like the playmakers they once were, with Flacco throwing interceptions and Smith dropping touchdown passes.
“I have to rise up,” Flacco said in a press conference after practice on Wednesday.
Smith agrees. “We’re in a deep hole, and we have to dig ourselves out of it,” he told reporters Wednesday.
But the hole seems to be getting bigger.
While there are mishaps such as injuries that are bound to happen, the Ravens are becoming all too familiar with their inability to hold fourth quarter leads.
However their misfortune doesn’t stop there. They’ve encountered absurd incidents such as the thigh catch made by Cleveland Browns tight end Gary Barnidge in Week 5 and the sinkhole that appeared in the turf when Ravens kicker Justin Tucker missed a 45-yard field goal attempt at San Francisco’s Levi’s Stadium on Sunday.
Finally, Baltimore’s offense needs to stop giving up costly turnovers and the defense needs to stop allowing big plays.
“I know I wear my emotions on my sleeve,” Harbaugh said. “I’m just going to be (like), ‘I can’t believe this happened!’”
Hopefully Harbaugh and the team won’t get flushed with embarrassment under the bright lights when the Ravens visit the Arizona Cardinals Monday at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.