The Ravens sat out from the action on Sunday but still managed to come out as winners on the bye week. One may wonder how this is possible. Although the Baltimore Ravens did not play, teams that needed to lose to help the Ravens lost, some in unbelievable fashion. The shakeup in the AFC results in a better position for the Ravens, as Baltimore prepares to make its final push towards the playoffs. Here is a recap of the games that help the Ravens, and some that slightly hurt them:
Outcomes that Help Baltimore:
The Bengals lost to the Saints in an absolute teardown in Cincinnati. New Orleans dominated for the entire game, both on offense and defense. Without A.J. Green, the Bengals were kept to scoring a very below average amount of points, 14. Cincinnati’s defense was sliced and diced by Drew Brees, who threw for 265 yards and 3 touchdowns. By the end of the day, the Saints dropped 51 points on the Bengals. As Cincinnati had no answers to New Orleans, head coach Marvin Lewis opted to fire his defensive coordinator. Lewis, the defensive coordinator in Baltimore when the Ravens won the Super Bowl after the 2000 season, will take over play-calling duties starting next week against the Ravens. Cincinnati will also play without Green in this game as well, giving the Ravens a great chance at victory. Cincinnati’s loss to New Orleans puts them at 5-4, and a loss to the Ravens would put them at 5-5, tied with the 5-5 Ravens in the standings.
The Miami Dolphins showed their true colors in Green Bay. Against the Packers, the Dolphins were unable to do much of anything on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Miami could not score a single touchdown. The Dolphins tried to rely on field goals, only scoring four. The defense was shredded by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers attack. Rodgers threw for 199 yards and two touchdowns. He was aided by Aaron Jones on the ground, who blew past the Miami front seven, rushing for 145 yards, and two touchdowns. The final score was 31-12, and the loss for the Dolphins puts them at a 5-5 record. The Ravens will compete against the Dolphins for a playoff berth, and as long as Miami keeps losing, Baltimore will keep winning.
The Outcome that Hurt the Ravens
The Tennessee Titans were able to upset the New England Patriots on Sunday. The Titans bounced back from a 3-4 record, and now sit at 5-4. Although the Ravens have a tiebreaker win over the Titans, Baltimore cannot afford to see Tennesee run away with the season. The two teams need to finish with at least the same record for the Ravens to gain the advantage. If the Titans keep winning, it may prove difficult for the Ravens to make the playoffs. Tennessee, however, has never been consistent. The Titans may have beaten the Patriots yesterday, but Tennessee lost to the Bills in this season as well. Tennessee’s inconsistency may prove as the Achilles heel that sinks this team.
The Outcome that Goes Both Ways
In the Ravens Bye Week Viewing Guide, I listed the Falcons and Browns game as important for the Falcons to win. An Atlanta victory would have pushed the Browns to the far edge of playoff contention. The Falcons could not escape with a win, however, and the Browns score their third victory on the season. On paper, this hurts the Ravens, but in reality, Cleveland won’t be a contender for the wild card spot for much longer. What this game does for the Ravens, is prove that the Falcons are beatable. Atlanta was on the upswing after starting the season very poorly. The loss to the Browns, however, confirms that this team has not changed. Its defense is atrocious, and its offense is too inconsistent to be considered great. The loss puts Atlanta back in the losers column, and gives the Ravens confidence they can beat them in December.