Never in recent memory have the football gods shined so much mercy upon an up-and-down team like the 2017 Baltimore Ravens. This team looked dead at 4-5. The offense stunk. The defense was putrid.
But now here they sit at 8-6 and a chance to run the table with the stumbling Indy Colts up next and the bumbling Bengals after that—both games at home. 10-6? Are you kidding me? Suddenly a #5 seed is in the picture.
Of course you’ve got to go out and actually play the games—but it sure looks good on paper.
Saturday, December 23 | 4:30 PM
This has been an up and down, down and up year for the crazy Ravens.
Joe Flacco is finally healthy again after masking a lousy back injury most of the season and he’s playing like the original QB he used to be. The Ravens offensive line has somehow solidified after a horrific first half of the season—give offensive quality control coach Greg Roman a lot of credit for that. And they have found an impact running back—Alex Collins, a castoff from the Seattle Seahawks.
The Ravens have always bragged they are built for the months of December and January. Weirdly enough, they are getting a fortuitous chance to prove it.
The Colts have lost 8 out of their last 9 games— but don’t take them lightly, they have been right there at the end in a lot of those tough losses. This may be head coach Chuck Pagano’s swan song this weekend, but you can bet your bippy the Colts on the active roster will be playing their butts off to show support for him.
The Ravens will likely be without starting wide receiver Jeremy Maclin Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts.
The veteran didn’t practice all week after injuring his knee last week against the Cleveland Browns and is officially listed as doubtful. Head coach John Harbaugh indicated that a final decision on his status may not come until gameday.
“It’s kind of day-to-day at this point at time right up until the game, I think really,” Harbaugh said Thursday. “It could even be a game-time decision.”
If Maclin is unavailable, the Ravens may decide to do some roster maneuvering to ensure they have enough healthy receivers Saturday. Quincy Adeboyejo is currently on the practice squad and is a candidate to get moved to the 53-man roster.
The Ravens have to make any roster decisions by 4 p.m. Friday if they are going to add a receiver to the active roster. Baltimore also has Mike Wallace, Chris Moore,Michael Campanaro and Breshad Perriman available if they decide not to promote Adeboyejo.
Maclin is the only Ravens player whose status is really in doubt going into this weekend. There was some concern about defensive tackle Carl Davis after he suffered a shoulder injury Sunday, but he practiced all week and told reporters he expects to play. He’s officially listed as questionable.
The only other players dealing with injuries are defensive backs Maurice Canady (knee) and Anthony Levine (thigh), who are both listed as questionable
Colts Rule Out Four Players
The Colts have some significant injury concerns, as they ruled out wide receiver Donte Moncrief (ankle), cornerback Rashaan Melvin (hand), offensive lineman Denzelle Good (knee) and tight ends Brandon Williams (concussion) and Jason Vander Laan (concussion).
Indianapolis hoped to get Melvin, a former Raven, back in the lineup, but decided he wasn’t ready to play after he was a limited participant in practice all week.
The most notable injury for the Colts is quarterback Andrew Luck, who has missed the entire season with an arm issue.
The Ravens close their season at home against the Indianapolis Colts (3-11) and Cincinnati Bengals (5-9). Their closest playoff rivals the Tennessee Titans will take on the NFC West-leading Los Angeles Rams (10-4) and the AFC South-leading Jacksonville Jaguars (10-4).
Sarah Ellison of the Ravens media department says it best:
“When you really think about it, it’s kind of crazy that the Ravens control their own destiny and are completely expected to advance to the playoffs with two games remaining.
“Just think about what the team has endured in terms of injuries and adversity. Rock bottom may have been the Week 9 loss to the Tennessee Titans just before the bye week. That three-point defeat, combined with close losses to the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings, seemed like major blows to the Ravens’ season.”
They went into the bye with a 4-5 losing record.
But since that time, Baltimore has flipped its record by winning four of the last five games and is now playing some of its best football.
“The team deserves credit for weathering adversity,” wrote Russell Street Report’s Tony Lombardi. “When they fell to (4-5) on the season thanks in large part to an offense that then ranked 31st in the league, many of us laughed when head coach John Harbaugh said, ‘We’re in it!’
“Harbaugh hasn’t wavered. His belief in his team and coordinators and all of the next-men-up who have filled in admirably for many competent vets lost for the season, has resonated. Today, the 2017 Baltimore Ravens appear more galvanized than at any point during the season. Their collective focus appears razor sharp and while their long-term goal is a championship, as a team, they possess steely-eyed conviction with short-term sights – one game at a time.”
Some of the Ravens’ season-ending losses included starting linebacker Zachary Orr, starting tight end Dennis Pitta, All-Pro guard Marshal Yanda, starting guard/tackle Alex Lewis, Pro Bowl-worthy cornerback Jimmy Smith, starting defensive end Brent Urban and ascending running back Kenneth Dixon.
“The 2017 season could have and should have been a colossal mess, yet for the moment, the Ravens appear stronger than they’ve been for years,” Lombardi wrote. “And the oft-maligned coaching staff deserves credit for navigating the turbulent waters that 2017 has presented. “