Sched­ule sug­gests there’s shot

Fi­nal se­ries of games might play to post­sea­son fa­vor if Ravens can get act straight

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - SPORTS - By Jeff Zre­biec

As they left the locker room Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon and headed their sep­a­rate ways for what re­mained of the team’s bye week, Ravens play­ers main­tained that they were al­ready look­ing ahead. That view was more en­cour­ag­ing than look­ing back on the first seven weeks.

After a 2-0 start, the Ravens lost five of seven games and rarely re­sem­bled a team that has earned a right to call it­self a play­off con­tender. Yet, a cur­sory look at the stand­ings, along with the Ravens’ sched­ule over the fi­nal seven games, sug­gests that while they may not cur­rently pass the eye test as a play­off-cal­iber team, they are very much in the post­sea­son mix.

Re­gard­less of what hap­pens in today’s games, the Ravens (4-5) won’t lose too much ground among a mass of medi­ocrity in the AFC play­off pic­ture. Three of the four divi­sion lead­ers — the New Eng­land TV: Ra­dio: Pa­tri­ots, Kansas City Chiefs and Pitts­burgh Steel­ers, have six wins. Beyond those con­fer­ence fa­vorites, three other teams, in­clud­ing the Ten­nessee Ti­tans and Jack­sonville Jaguars, colead­ers in the AFC South, have five wins. Four other teams are sit­ting on four wins. “We’re right there,” Ravens wide re­ceiver Mike Wal­lace said. “If we want it, we can take it. It’s right there. But we just have to go out and be ag­gres­sive, and just know that we can win these games.”

A few weeks ago, Ravens coach John Har­baugh ex­pressed the be­lief that the team would prob­a­bly need 10 wins to se­cure its sec­ond post­sea­son berth since the 2012 sea­son. Re­minded ear­lier this week about his pre­dic­tion, Har­baugh didn’t dou­ble down on the call.

“I am hop­ing what­ever we get is go­ing to be enough,” he said. “We are in it. There is no doubt about it, we are in it.”

To reach 10 wins, the Ravens are go­ing to have to go 6-1 the rest of the way. Even the most op­ti­mistic Ravens fan would be hard pressed to project that for a team that hasn’t won back-to-back games since early Septem­ber. How­ever, a 5-2 fin­ish and a fi­nal 9-7 reg­u­lar-sea­son record, which may or may

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