With two consecutive wins under their belt, and riding a wave of good feelings after last night’s dominant defensive performance, the Ravens may feel a bit disappointed to have a bye week coming. With that said, this bye week could end up aiding the Ravens later in the season. Not only will will the bye give injured players a week to recover from their knocks, but it will give the coaching staff an additional week to fine tune the offense, and get the defense prepared for the dynamic and dangerous Houston Texans offense.
The one thing that will be pivotal for the Ravens during the bye week will be to stay focused. The schedule gets no easier after the week off, with games against the Texans and Steelers on the immediate horizon.
With two weeks to mend their nagging injuries, it seems like Ben Grubbs, Lee Evans, Chris Carr and Dannell Ellerbee should be back to near-full productivity by Week 6, when the Texans roll into town.
As much as Torrey Smith did in St. Louis, he looks like a one-trick pony, his trick being to run past slower, unprepared safeties and hope Joe Flacco makes a good throw downfield. While Evans is a similar receiver, he is much more versatile, and can run several routes well. His return will help open up the passing game that was virtually non-existent against the Jets last night.
Ever since the fiasco in Nashville, the Ravens’ pass defense has rebounded well. They held Sam Bradford to 166 yards
through the air, and Mark Sanchez to only 119. What hasn’t been mentioned much today following last night’s win was the fact that a fairly shallow group of Ravens defensive backs were able to shut down two very dangerous Jets receivers in Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes. Chris Carr’s return would make the Ravens’ defense ever deeper and more formidable as they head for the homestretch of the season.
The Ravens and Browns both have a bye next week, meaning the Steelers and Bengals each have an opportunity to gain back a half-game in the AFC North standings. Pittsburgh goes up against an “are they real or not?” Tennessee Titans team, and the Bengals will play in a stinker against Jacksonville. If both teams lose, the division picture will look a bit clearer, with the Ravens emerging as obvious front-runners. On the other hand, if both teams win, the Ravens are coming off of the bye week without any room for error. The Week 9 matchup in Pittsburgh will be huge in the AFC North race.
The Texans played a physical game yesterday against Pittsburgh, and will go up against a somewhat tough Oakland Raiders team while the Ravens are resting next week. It will be interesting to see how fatigue and health play a part when the Texans come into Baltimore, as the Ravens will undoubtedly be less injured, and much fresher. It’s always tough for visiting teams to get things going early at M&T Bank Stadium because of the crowd, but if a rested Ravens team jumps on the Texans from the outset, it may be impossible for the visitors to get much of anything going throughout the game.
Edgar Walker is a staff writer for Baltimore Sports Report, covering a variety of topics. He also contributes to Essex-Middle River Patch, and writes a weekly column at The Purple Chaos. Go ahead and follow Edgar on Twitter, if you really have nothing better to do.