At this point in the season, it's hard to argue against the New England Patriots as the AFC's best team. Prior to Monday night, you could have made a strong argument for the Ravens as the best team in the conference, but once again, they failed to live up to the expectations and hype surrounding the team.
On Monday night, the Ravens' top rated defensive unit squared off against the NFL's lowest rated offensive team, the Jacksonville Jaguars. You would think that the Ravens could score enough points to win against a team that is averaging just 12 points per game, right? Apparently that's not the case. The Jaguars were able to muster their season average, 12, in their win over the favored Ravens. The Ravens, averaging 25.8 points per game, were saved from laying an egg with just over 2:00 to go in the game win they scored their only touchdown of the game. It's not time to panic in Baltimore, but there's certainly cause for concern.
Elite teams simply don't do this. Sure, there are times that elite teams struggle. The Patriots blew a big lead over Buffalo and gave that game away. The Steelers were completely out-played in every way in week 1 by the Ravens. It's understandable that elite teams will have off-games, but they just don't lose to low quality teams such as the Jaguars.
I'm not trying to take away from the Jaguars' effort on Monday. They played the best defense I've seen any team play all year, but their offense didn't score enough points. I still can't believe the Jaguars didn't allow a third down until about 5:00 to go in the 3rd quarter. Yes, the Jaguars played fast on defense, but that's inexcusable on the Ravens' part. No defense should be able to do that, especially considering the weapons the Ravens have on offense.
The Ravens had earned my respect as a top-tier team going into Monday night. Their opening weekend win over Pittsburgh was one of the most impressive wins by any team all season. Sure, they had that head-scratching loss to the Titans, but that was an early season games, and things like that tend to happen to good teams in the early part of the year. This isn't the early part of the year. This is the middle of the season. A top-tier team would be coming into mid-season form, but as we found out on Monday, the Ravens are not a top-tier team.
Now, the Ravens have more concerns than they care to admit. Terrell Suggs openly questioned offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron's playcalling following their 12-7 defeat in Jacksonville. Their offense, which had looked poor at times, looked like they were a college team playing a top-tier pro defense most of the night, and their defense failed to get any turnovers deep in Jacksonville's territory. Yes, they recovered a fumble on their own goal line, but their offense needed short fields to work with, and that's something their defense was unable to provide most of the night.
The Ravens should still be counted as one of the top teams in the AFC. No one is doubting that. What I am saying, and many others have echoed this sentiment, is the Ravens need to find offensive consistency to make a deep run in the playoffs. The AFC has many very good teams, and the Ravens will have to bring their "A game" every week in January if they want to play in a Super Bowl in the near future. The Patriots and the Steelers have proven year in and year out that they are clutch late in the year. It's time for the Ravens to take their game to the next level and show that same type of fortitude every week.
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Low quality team in the Jaguars? I'm not going to sit here and get into details about why our team isn't low quality, but it's obvious you haven't been watching close enough. Yeah, our offense is struggling but is that really enough to consider us as low quality? Our defense has been playing good all season. And since we came away with the win, I guess we did score enough points.
The Jaguars have the worst offense in the NFL. They have a top 10 defense. Yes, they're difficult to score on, but they produce next to no points. The win over the Ravens is a step forward, but let's not lose sight of the Jaguars' losses to the Panthers and Bengals, both games they should have won but didn't. The Jaguars are a team on the rise, but at this point, you can't call them anything but "poor." They're 2-5 with a lot of coulda, shoulda, wouldas, but didn'ts.
@smaclemons The worst I can consider this team is average. There is no way you should be considered as low quality or poor with a Top 10 defense, even with the worst ranked offense. Not only that, but you beat a team who was considered as the best team of the AFC. Now if we were getting blown out and not looking competitve at all, then I'd agree but that hasn't been the case. Low quality is the Dolphins right now and there is no way we can be put in the same category with them. I'll take coulda, shoulda, wouldas over it ain't happening. Which is all that is going to be said about a team like the Dolphins. I'm not saying we're good but low quality is disrespectful to this team in my opinion.
@KeenanJ We'll agree to disagree on this one. Are the Jaguars on the same level as the Dolphins, Rams, or Colts? No. Not even close. That I agree with, but I don't think the Jaguars are on the same level of a middle of the road team like the Chiefs or the Bills (both of which I would call average). That label can change if the Jaguars can put together a few wins in a row, and the Texans game this weekend is huge going into the bye. At this point, the Jaguars have 1 very impressive win and a few very disappointing losses. I'd call them below average. That can change though.