Typically, fans and writers alike consider the AFC North Division rivalry games “must win”. Many considered both the Steelers game and the Patriots game “must win” situations for the Ravens.
I disagree. The Ravens are off to a 4-2 start, having played the Jets, Bengals, Steelers, and Patriots all on the road already, and having lost only two of those four games. I think that’s respectable.
The games the Ravens must win are the home (and away) games against clearly inferior teams. They must beat the Browns, Broncos, and Panthers.
And when a team like the Bills comes to Baltimore, the Ravens must win.
When you look at the schedule, the Ravens are up against some very good teams on the road this year: Jets (5-1), Patriots (4-1), Falcons (4-2), and Texans (4-2). Of course, there are also the three divisional road games against the Steelers, Bengals, and Browns.
Any team, even good teams, are going to lose some of those tough road games.
Buffalo is last in the league in passing offense, and last in the league in running defense. The Ravens pass defense is ranked third, and while they haven’t gotten the running game going in full gear, everyone knows how dangerous their three backs are.
The two losses thus far this year were both disappointing. The Ravens simply played poorly on the offensive side of the ball against the Bengals; but every team (and every quarterback) is going to have an off day.
Yes, it would have been nice to hang on and beat the Patriots last week. That game may matter when the playoffs get here, either in the wild card or seedings. But losing that game isn’t going to cost the Ravens a shot at making the playoffs, as long as they continue to beat the teams they should beat.
And they should beat the Bills. Convincingly. If they don’t, fans and writers will legitimately question not only how good the Ravens are, but question their ability to even reach the playoffs.
This article was also posted at Bleacher Report