There is one major difference between the Ravens’ three-game winning streak and their four-game losing streak: health.
Even when Baltimore was winning, they were still making mistakes, committing penalties, and turning over the ball. The only thing is, they had their playmakers on the field instead of the injury report.
Last year, when the Ravens were healthy for a small portion of the season, they still lost games. They didn’t have the personnel to win games. The secondary was awful, the pass rush was nonexistent, and the receivers could not make plays.
This year has been different. They’ve gotten game-sealing interceptions. Terrell Suggs and Timmy Jernigan have been terrorizing QBs (9 sacks between them). Terrance West has taken control of the run game, and Joe Flacco has had many receivers to throw to (9+ targets with a completion in multiple games this year).
That is of course, until the injury bug hit.
The team leader in interceptions, C.J. Mosley, injured his hamstring during an interception and has been out for two weeks. Flacco’s blind side protector Ronnie Stanley has missed the entire losing streak. All Pro captains Steve Smith Sr. and Marshal Yanda have missed the last two games. Pass rushers Suggs and Elvis Dumervil have missed games in the last two weeks as well.
The common element of these injuries? The Ravens have lost each game these players have missed.
Baltimore is currently 3-4 heading into their Bye Week, and tied for second in the division to the 4-3 Pittsburgh Steelers. Now is the time to turn the season around. Along with rest comes better health.
Terrell Suggs, Marshal Yanda, Ronnie Stanley, and Rick Wagner all were spotted on the practice field this week. The Ravens finally have their entire starting offensive line back for the first time since Week Three.
Reports have said that Mosley and Smith Sr. are close to returning to practice as well. With five days of rest, Mosley should be back again soon to continue his best season yet. The front seven is solid without him in the lineup, but great when he’s healthy. The wide receivers lack toughness without Smith Sr. He is the vocal leader the team needs when he is on the field.
Also, former first-round safety Matt Elam has been activated from IR this week, and will be eligible to play against Cleveland on November 10th. Elam has not played in a game since 2014, but is ready to show the Ravens he is not a bust after they declined his 5th-year option this offseason. With the safety depth taking a hit after Kendrick Lewis was put on IR last week, Elam is a perfect fit.
Lardarius Webb has been struggling with his new position at safety this season, and has been dealing with a hamstring issue as of late. If Webb is to miss any significant time, Elam will be a great pair with team-leader Eric Weddle.
The team that finished out the first three games with a victory is finally inching its way back to health. Two important division games follow the Bye, and the Ravens can seize the division lead with victories. The Bye Week couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for a team with that has its back against the wall.