Week eight provided a much needed bye week for the Baltimore Ravens as it allowed players to heal and get healthy and coaches to hit the film room to figure out what adjustments and changes need to be made to become more consistent on both sides of the football. The Ravens headed into the bye week 5-2 with a one and a half game lead in the AFC North and a game lead for the second seed in the AFC.
After yesterday's games, as tonight's game is an all-NFC matchup and thus has no relation to Baltimore, the Ravens now understand that they will need to win more games than they lose for the remainder of the season if they want to make the playoffs. Below we will diagnose the happenings of week eight and how they affect the Baltimore Ravens:
- Pittsburgh Steelers make RGIII and Washington Redskins surrender – Up until week eight, I had not been impressed with Pittsburgh, they looked old and mediocre at best. After week eight….impressed. The Steelers appeared to return to them old selves, as they played pretty good defense (although aided by 10 dropped passes from Redskins) and their offense looked borderline unstoppable. Jonathon Dwyer looks legit, and they will have a great stable of running backs when Redman and Mendenhall are healthy. The Steelers improved to 4-3 with their victory and are now just one game behind the Ravens for the AFC North lead, and places even more importance on their two games with the Steelers in week 11 and week 13.
- Miami Dolphins embarrass New York Jets in New York – I picked this one wrong, I thought no way Miami goes to New York and wins, nonetheless destroy the Jets. How does this affect Baltimore? Easy, if the Ravens find themselves trying to earn a wildcard spot if the division leaves their grasps, Miami will be one of the teams vying for the wildcard.
- New England Patriots are the Patriots again – Thought the Pats were finally coming back from their dominant ways? Think again, the Patriots destroyed a descent St. Louis Rams team in London yesterday and improved to 5-3 on the season and now sit just one half game behind Baltimore for the second seed in the AFC and a first round bye. Every year there are two teams the Ravens always prepare for, and this season is no different now, Pittsburgh and New England….although there is that third team, Houston.
- Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning = Gelling – Don't look now but Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos appear to be clicking on all cylinders after their shaky start and are now 4-3 on the season. Winning the division becomes crucial now for Baltimore as no one would want to play Peyton Manning in Denver come the playoffs.
- AFC is turning it around – Two weeks ago (week 7) when the Houston Texans hosted Baltimore, the Ravens and Texans were the only two teams in the AFC with winning records, after week eight there are seven teams with winning records. With six playoff spots in the AFC, one of these teams is going to be left out in the dark. Baltimore better have found the right adjustments and changes needed to become more consistent as wins will be all the more valuable now.
I am still extremely confident that Baltimore is going to make the playoffs and most likely win the division, but the road traveled will be much tougher than expected just two weeks ago. With two games that need to be victories (at Cleveland, vs Oakland) following the bye week, Baltimore should be in great position heading into their week 11 matchup at Pittsburgh.
If you read Ravens101's article yesterday, you know that I made my week 8 picks, as well as my guest picker, my wife. You would also know that she has already beaten me! I give credit where credit is due, but the Jets, Eagles, and Titans really let me down! Looks like I am cooking dinner tomorrow.
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