Originally written on Ravens Football Machine  |  Last updated 11/14/14


It seems the Ravens only beat the Colts once every ten years--- so Sunday's game playing against the snake-bit Indianapolis franchise without Peyton Manning is a big chance for the Ravens to change that old trend.

Here's our staff writer Ron Benamor again with a nice 3rd-quarter summary of where the Ravens are right now as kickoff time looms at M&T Bank Stadium:



Quarterly Report
Three quarters into the season, the Ravens are 9-3 and look like one of the NFL’s premier teams. 

 

This season has had its fair share of ups and downs. However, a 9-3 record suggest that the ups have outweighed the downs. I took a hard look at the Ravens and came up with five headlines of this season thus far.

Excellent offseason transactions: General manager Ozzie Newsome looks like an absolute genius for his offseason roster changes. Derrick Masons age and unfamiliarity with the New York Jets offense made him expendable; he eventually got traded to Houston where he contributes sparingly (I bet he wishes he stayed with the Ravens). Todd Heap is having an injury-riddled season thus far. In addition, Heap’s release allowed for second year tight ends, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta to emerge as some of Joe Flacco’s most reliable targets. Releasing McClain and McGahee paved way for Ray Rice to become an elite running back. Cutting Kelly Gregg opened up opportunities for rookie Pernell McPhee and sophomore tackle Terrance Cody. Both Cody and McPhee have contributed greatly to the Ravens superb run defense.  However, it may be the offseason additions that elevated Baltimore into super bowl contention. The Ravens signed safety Bernard Pollard, who undeniably has been one of the most feared tacklers on the Ravens squad. Opposing receivers now have to think twice before crossing the middle of the field, for fear of getting clobbered by Pollard. The duo of Reed and Pollard is becoming one of the best safety combinations in the NFL. In addition, fullback Vonta Leach, who came with Pollard from Houston, has provided a huge boost for the Ravens rushing attack. Leach is perhaps the best blocking fullback in the league and also produces well on short yardage carries. Bryant Mckinnie is proving that he can still play at a high level and Andre Gurode has played well in lieu for injured players Ben Grubbs and Matt Birk. Ricky Williams has been a large factor in goal line run plays, mustering up two touchdowns. And who can forget the additions of the Smith’s in the 2011 draft? Torrey Smith is having a marvelous rookie season with 613 receiving yards and five touchdowns; two of which were game winners. While cornerback Jimmy Smith has had a good rookie year, notching two critical interceptions in divisional bouts against Cleveland and Cincinnati. All in all, these offseason transactions have greatly improved the Ravens roster for this season and for seasons to come.

 

Baltimore dominates at M&T: The Ravens are one of the NFL’s best when it comes to playing at home. Baltimore is 6-0 at home thus far, with remaining home games against the 0-11 Colts and the 3-8 Browns (looks like it will be 8-0). Baltimore’s dominance at home will continue if the Ravens can land home-field advantage by the end of the season. If so, the road to Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI will run through Baltimore, something opposing teams will have difficulty overcoming.

 

The Ravens ‘D’: Baltimore’s defense is perhaps the most complete defense in the NFL. Baltimore is top five in passing defense, rushing defense and total defense. Baltimore leads the league in sacks with 41, and is third in scoring, allowing only 16 points per game. If you think about it, the Ravens essentially have a pro-bowl caliber defender in each level of the defense. Lets start with the defensive line. Haloti Ngata is arguably the most talented defensive tackle in the game. On to the linebackers. Ray Lewis is one of the most feared linebackers in the NFL, while Terrell Suggs has made his case for defensive MVP with 10 sacks and 2 interceptions. Now to the secondary unit. Ed Reed has done the usual, scaring the heck out of opposing quarterback with his uncanny ability for finding the ball. In addition, the emergence of safety Bernard Pollard and cornerback Lardarius Webb has drastically improved the rush and pass defense. Webb and Pollard are amongst the leaders in tackling for the Ravens. Webb has also notched 5 interceptions this season. However, the Ravens offensively have also emerged as a top tier unit, ranking 6th in scoring in the league at 24.7 point per game. Regardless, the Ravens defense will provide the biggest advantage in playoff battles, where Baltimore will likely have to go through the dynamic offenses of the New England Patriots and possibly the Green Bay Packers.

 

Ravens ability to win in various ways: The Ravens have the rare capability of adapting week in and week out to new opponents. Baltimore has found numerous ways to win games thus far. In week one (Pittsburgh) and three (St. Louis) they did it with offensive explosion. Against the Jets, 49er’s and Cincinnati, defense paved way for victories. In back-to-back games versus Arizona and Pittsburgh they did it by coming from behind with Joe Flacco’s poise and precision. And against Cleveland they won with a ground and pound game plan, rushing for a 280 yards. Look for the Ravens to continue adapting, as Baltimore will likely run the ball in similar fashion against the 30th ranked run defense of the Indianapolis Colts.

 

Ravens play down to their competition: Baltimore has had some troubles this year. But who would have thought that those troubles would come from their lesser competition? Baltimore is 3-3 against teams who were sporting a sub-500 record. However, Baltimore overcame their Achilles Heel on Sunday with a 24-10 rout against the woeful Cleveland Browns. Only time will tell if the Ravens have found a permanent fix to that issue. The Ravens currently hold the second easiest remaining schedule in the NFL with remaining games against Indianapolis, San Diego, Cleveland and Cincinnati.  

 

Grade A-: Ravens fans have to be pleased with their team twelve games into the season. The Ravens have just about exceeded expectations. Who would have guessed that the Ravens would have swept Pittsburgh and be atop the AFC North? Not many. One could only imagine what the Ravens record would be if they had played to their potential in the three losses. The Baltimore Ravens have to be considered as one of the favorites to win the AFC. However, the Ravens aren’t looking for an AFC championship, they are looking for a world championship. Anything short of that will be a disappointment.

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