Is it possible that the Ravens were better off without Ed Reed?
That seems blasphemous to even type, and I'm not suggesting that there's any truth behind it for fear of getting beaten down when I decide to leave my house.
But the statistics, surprisingly enough, indicate that something has changed over the last three games, and changed for the negative.
When Reed was taken off the Physically Unable to Perform list three weeks ago, the Ravens' pass defense, then ranked third in the NFL, was expected to get a boost.
I mean, how could it not?
By adding a six-time Pro Bowler to the mix, one with the game-changing ability of Reed, how could he not make the Ravens' defense more dangerous? How could he not make it tougher for opposing teams to move the ball and put points on the board?
But when you look at the yardage and points that the Ravens have allowed since Reed's return, you wonder what's gone wrong.
In the Ravens' last three games, that previously third-ranked passing defense has dropped to 13th, and their overall defensive ranking has gone from third in the league to 10th. They've allowed an average of 386 yards since Reed has come back, compared to 281 in the six games before the veteran safety was in uniform.
The Ravens have also been taking a bigger hit on the scoreboard the last three games, allowing over seven more points per game since Reed has been back in the lineup.
Head coach John Harbaugh certainly doesn't buy that Reed is the cause of the drop in the Ravens' defensive statistics.
"It's a spurious correlation," Harbaugh said.
I'm sorry, a what?
"It means that's not the connection," Harbaugh said. "Yeah, that's not the reason. If we're not playing as good of pass defense - which I'm not sure that's true - but if that's the case, then it's not because of Ed Reed or that he's back there or that we've got to find some formula with Ed. It's specific things to specific plays."
Now, it hasn't all been bad since Reed returned. In some aspects, Reed's presence has given the Ravens exactly what they expected it would.
He's grabbed three interceptions in his three games back, has forced a fumble, and has helped jumpstart a defensive unit which struggled to force turnovers while he was gone. Since Reed returned, the Ravens have forced seven total takeaways, and are +3 overall in turnover ratio. That's the type of impact that Reed can make.
Those are indications, Harbaugh says, that, if anything, Reed has made a positive impact on the Baltimore defense.
"Ed has played well," Harbaugh said. "I don't think there's any play you can point to and say, 'Well, Ed's not playing well.' You know, he's playing well. He's had three interceptions. He's a factor pretty much in every play. So, if there's anything specific in the passing game that we haven't done a good job with, it doesn't really relate to Ed."
"You build around your players," Harbaugh added. "That's kind of the point. You build around the guys you have - and it probably builds differently around Ed Reed than it builds around another safety. So, that's something, obviously, you're always working for."