The Baltimore Ravens were able to escape with a home win this weekend over the Dallas Cowboys, but not without a high cost. CB Ladarius Webb along with veteran LB Ray Lewis have been lost for the season due to injuries. DT Haloti Ngata also suffered a MCL knee injury but he is expected to play this week versus the Houston Texans. OLB Terrell Suggs will be activated off the PUP list this week, but is not expected to contribute on defense any time soon. Look for QB Joe Flacco‘s fantasy production to rise significantly in the coming weeks.
The injuries to Webb and Lewis are a major blow to a defense which has already been struggling this season. When you traditionally think of Baltimore Ravens football, you think of hardcore, smash you in the mouth football with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed leading the way. However, even before the injuries hit the Ravens last week, the team’s defense was not what you once expected from the Ravens.
Currently, the Ravens are ranked 22nd against the pass and 26th versus the run, very uncharacteristic. The Ravens are fourth in the AFC in points allowed, but they have allowed 83 points to the Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys.
You could sense at the start of this season, the Ravens were going to be a more offensive oriented team with the franchise employing a no-huddle offense. Now, with the loss of Webb and Lewis and Suggs remaining out of the defensive front, if the Ravens have any hopes of playing in the post season, John Harbaugh is going to have to focus on the play of the Ravens offense going forward.
I was high on Joe Flacco heading into this season in fantasy circles. He entered the regular season without a contract extension and was just one dropped pass in the playoffs last season away from advancing Baltimore to the playoffs. Flacco has drawn criticism in the media after speaking out about his belief in his abilities, but now he can really cash in on a major payday as the offense will be counted on more to carry this team going forward.
Flacco seems to have intermittent lapses in play, and that is where his criticism comes from. He turned in a horrible performance against the Kansas City Chiefs two weeks ago. However, I believe you are going to see his production ramp up in coming weeks as the Ravens will have to rely more on outscoring their opponents than relying on the play of their defense.
There are some very favorable matchups looming for Flacco and the Ravens as well. They play Houston this week and then head into a bye, but things get right after the bye. A game against the Browns, a home game against the Raiders, the Steelers, San Diego and the Redskins are looming as well.
Flacco is going to have to put this team on his back (or his shoulder) and carry it to the playoffs. If he does, in a contract year, he’ll see a monster payday, likely from the Ravens. He has the offensive weapons, the coaching staff is just going to have to realize this is not the Ravens of old any longer. The defense isn’t going to be able to hold opponents to 16 points or less each game. The defense will be an average unit, and the team will have to rely on the offense. A blueprint that fits Joe Flacco and his new contract just fine.