Fresh off a Bye week, the Ravens at 3-4 take on the Cleveland Browns this coming Sunday. To a man, the players reported in various interviews how rejuvenating it was to get a few days off.
As I write this, the NFL trade deadline is about 3 hours away (4:00 P.M. EST, October 29)… The Ravens have already signed a free-agent running back, former Bengal Bernard Scott. They are known to be looking to pick up a wide receiver through a trade before the deadline.
Sarah Ellison of BaltimoreRavens.com took a long look around the league and produced these observations of the state of the Ravens' competition:
While the Ravens rested Sunday, all three AFC rivals tried to better their standings in the division and conference.
Once Sunday’s games concluded, there was some good news and bad news for the defending Super Bowl champs.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way …The Bengals gained even more ground on the Ravens after a 49-9 beat down of the New York Jets. Cincinnati (6-2) now holds a 2.5-game lead over Baltimore (3-4). Quarterback Andy Dalton threw for an eye-popping five touchdowns.
“If you haven't already, wake up NFL fans and turn your attention to Cincinnati,” wrote ESPN’s Coley Harvey. “The football team here certainly looks for real. Although the Bengals have had wins in which they seemed to control every facet of their game, none this season have been as complete as Sunday's. They put their foot on the proverbial gas and, for the first time, didn't let up.”
With a pair of head-to-head matchups still to be played between the Ravens and Bengals, Baltimore can still win the AFC North. But it’s not a bad idea for fans to start looking at the backup plan: a wild-card spot.
That’s where the good news comes in. Several wild-card contenders dropped another game Sunday, including the Jets (4-4), Dolphins (3-4), Bills (3-5), Browns (3-5) and Steelers (2-5).
Still, Baltimore is one game behind the Chargers (4-3), who also had a bye Sunday, for the final wild-card spot. The Chargers have yet to play AFC West leaders Kansas City or Denver this season.
Meanwhile, it should be noted that a lot of the offense's prior struggles with the running game are directly related to the somewhat unpublicized physical problems of the offensive line.
We now know that injuries have impacted offensive guards Kelechi Osemele (back) and Marshal Yanda (offseason rotator cuff surgery), and they have not been playing at their normal levels. Ravens fans can only hope the week off during the Bye has improved the health situations of Osemele and Yanda. But the probability is the Ravens are going to have lean on the OL backups to mix and match a healthier line the rest of the way.