The Ravens enjoyed a plethora of success under John Harbaugh in his first six years in Baltimore. As Baltimore’s third head coach, Harbaugh brought the Ravens to six consecutive playoff appearances and three AFC Championship appearances. In his sixth year, quarterback Joe Flacco led the Ravens on a magical playoff run, concluding with a victory in the Super Bowl. The head coach and quarterback duo seemed to be just getting started with their success in Baltimore, but fate had other plans for the two faces of the franchise. Since winning the Super Bowl, the Baltimore Ravens have only competed in the playoffs once in five years. As a result, Harbaugh sits on the hot seat and Flacco must fend off a young quarterback looking to usurp his throne.
After two straight years of literally coming within one play of going to the postseason, the Ravens felt optimistic that this season would be the one when the team returns to glory. The Ravens started strong, winning three of the first four games. But since that point, Baltimore plummeted to a 4-4 record. While still being in playoff contention, the Ravens feel the heat like never before. Not only would only a few more losses kill the team’s January ambitions, but it would also serve as the nail in the coffin of both Harbaugh and Flacco’s tenure in Baltimore.
While the skies are darkening, it is not all doom and gloom for the Ravens. Baltimore has the chance to rebound this week. The Ravens are set to face the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday. A sweep of the division rival, as the Ravens defeated the Steelers at Heinz Field in week 4, would recapture some momentum for the Ravens. The much-needed win would put the Ravens in a good position moving forward. It would improve the Ravens’ divisional record, which may be crucial in the race for the division crown.
If the Ravens defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers, it would serve not only as a major confidence booster but an important strategic victory. The victory would put the Ravens back above .500 ahead of the bye week. After Baltimore’s week off, the Ravens face the Cincinnati Bengals, at home. The Ravens already lost to the Bengals once this year, and may not be able to afford a sweep. If the Ravens won both of these divisional matchups, it would catapult the Ravens back into the playoff mix, and give them a genuine opportunity to win down the stretch. For this to happen, the Ravens must win this weekend against the Steelers. If they lose, it could spell the end for the most successful coach and quarterback in the franchise’s history.