Late For Work 10/6: Why Are The Ravens Ranked So Low?

Plus reasons why the Ravens’ 3-1 record is so impressive and explaining the D’s success.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Wednesday, October 6th, 2010 at 9:25 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Why Are The Ravens Ranked So Low?

“Educated idiot” was a new term I learned from NBC’s The Apprentice this week.

It’s a little harsh, but sometimes people can be so “smart” they defy simple logic. Or maybe head-to-head competition just doesn’t count for much anymore.

Why else would websites rank the Steelers and Jets ahead of the Ravens?

At least with the Steelers, one could argue they are better now with the return of starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who reportedly “looked sharp” in his first practice back with his team following a four-game suspension.

Or perhaps it’s the league’s parity that has the power rankings a bit suspect this week.

At the season’s quarter mark, 23 teams are either in first place or within one game of the division lead. That’s the most teams at the top of the standings through four weeks of play in NFL history, according to USA TODAY.

Seventy-five percent of teams (24) are at .500 or better. By comparison, 20 teams managed to avoid a losing record at this point in the 2009 season.

  • ESPN: Ravens are ranked No. 6, down from No. 4 last week. Despite beating them head-to-head and sharing the same record, Steelers (No. 1) and Jets (No. 4) are ranked ahead of the Ravens.
  • USA Today: Ravens are ranked No. 2, up from No. 4 last week.  The “soon to be champs” Jets are also ranked ahead of Baltimore (and everyone else) at No. 1. The Steelers are No. 4.
  • ProFootballTalk.com:  Mike Florio ranked the Ravens No. 2 behind the Jets. He wrote that if there were a rematch today, the Jets would win.
  • FoxSports.com: Ravens are ranked No. 1, up from No. 7 last week.  It’s tough to appreciate this ranking as Adam Caplan continues to be all over the place with the Ravens. He had them as low as No. 17 after Week 2′s loss. The Steelers and Jets are ranked Nos. 2 and 3, respectively.
  • NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora: Ravens are ranked No. 3, up from No. 4 for two consecutive weeks. Since I’ve been tracking them thus far…Steelers are No. 4 while the Jets are No. 7.

Poll:  Ravens WRs Competitors Or Selfish?

I’ve been very curious about something for the past couple of weeks.

Hopefully you can help satisfy my curiosity.

Are the Ravens wide receivers competitors or selfish?

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Baltimore finds itself in a whole new era in which either the offense and defense can put a game on its shoulders. Having nine former Pro Bowlers (Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, Le’Ron McClain, Todd Heap, Matt Birk and Mark Bulger) on offense is unfamiliar territory.

So are the questions that come with it, specifically questions about players being selfish.

Nobody has to “share” the ball on defense. It’s tougher to point the finger of blame if a defensive player doesn’t have impressive numbers in major stat categories – sacks, tackles and interceptions.

It’s only a quarter of the way through the season and Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron has already had to defend players on his bolstered offensive unit, specifically his receivers, against the notion that they are selfish.

Not that the receivers haven’t given people a reason to question their motives. Houshmandzadeh has been open about his desire to get more passes thrown his way. Mason and Boldin have been visibly emotional on the sidelines during games.

“Let’s all be realistic,” Cameron told Ken Murray of The Baltimore Sun after Sunday’s win. “The world that we live in — all of us — it breeds selfishness. And these guys really aren’t selfish in my view. They’re competitors. There’s a huge difference between guys that are selfish and guys that are competitors. We have competitors, we want competitors here.

“The defensive guys want sacks; I get that. Offensive guys want the ball; I get that. I’d be scared to death if guys didn’t want the ball. I really would. Actually, I’ve been in that situation where guys are kind of … they really don’t want the ball in the clutch. That’s the worst feeling. So to me, I think we’ve all got to take a deep breath and realize it’s the nature of the business.”

Cameron added that if the receivers do want to complain, he hopes those complaints are aimed at him. He just doesn’t want it to affect the way the Ravens play on Sundays.

Another AFC North team, the Cincinnati Bengals, is having problems with offensive chemistry, as receiver Chad Ochocinco tweeted Monday morning, and it has led to their 2-2 record. Meanwhile, it seems that the trust between Flacco and his receivers is growing, as is evidenced by back-to-back fourth-quarter comebacks.

There is a line between being a competitor who believes in himself, as Cameron explains, and not being happy for a teammate when he succeeds, as selfishness suggests.

So I’m curious what fans think. On which side of the line do you think the Ravens receivers stand? Are they confident competitors or selfish players?

Why Ravens’ 3-1 Record Is So Impressive

An article from The Baltimore Sun’s Jamison Hensley provides much optimism for the future.

The Ravens are 3-1 despite major hurdles that may not exist moving forward. Here are four reasons Hensley says the Ravens’ record is so impressive:

  • Three of Baltimore’s first four games were on the road. It was a rigorous challenge that five other teams also had to face, but couldn’t overcome. Now Baltimore is rewarded with seven of its final 12 regular-season games at M&T Bank Stadium.
  • The pass defense is No. 1 in the league despite an absent Ed Reed. Just two more games and he will come off the physically-unable-to-perform list.
  • Ray Rice has yet to get on track after suffering a bruised knee and fewer touches, but once he hits his stride again, the Ravens’ offense will be that much better.
  • Winning despite a losing turnover battle. From 2000 to 2009, the Ravens had a 10-50 record (.166) when they lose the turnover battle. In 2010, the team is 2-1 when it commits more turnovers than the other team.

Rex Predicts a Jets-Ravens Rematch

More on the defying logic … Jets fans are still trying to rationalize their team’s loss to the Ravens.

It was a close game, Ravens winning by one, so everybody would love to see a rematch.

Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan took it one step further, actually predicting a rematch … in January.

On Monday, he was asked if the season-opening loss provided a “wake-up call” to the team, which has responded with three straight divisional wins.

Ryan wasn’t buying the wake up-call theory, explained ESPN’s Rich Cimini.

“I don’t think we needed it, to be honest with you,” Ryan said.  “We’re going to be talking about that (game) until we play them in the playoffs, it sounds to me.”

For the record, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said in his post-game press conference after the Week 1 win that he also had a feeling the two teams would see each other again.

Sterling Sharpe Is Confused

NFL Network: Playbook: Haloti Ngata and the Ravens Defense
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NFL Network’s Sterling Sharpe turned to Mike Mayock to understand why the Ravens defense (ranked No. 2 overall) has been so successful when Sharpe admittedly thought it would be much weaker this season.

“I started off the 2010 season saying that the weakness of the Baltimore Ravens football team was their secondary,” Sterling said in the NFL.com video below. “You see how much I know, because the Baltimore Ravens have proven me wrong.

“So Mike, what is it that we’re missing about this defense? There is no Ed Reed. There’s only Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs; that’s all we can name on that defense. How in the world are they doing this?

Mayock’s answer came in the form of a 350-pound lineman, Haloti Ngata.

Mayock used lines like, “this is like watching a VW trying to cut off an 18-wheeler,”  “are you kidding me? That’s just freakish,” and “he sticks his foot (and opens his hips) better than some safeties.”

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