The Ravens have reached the official midpoint of the 2013 season in a position they haven’t been in a long time.
For the first time in eight years, they’re under .500 after eight contests at 3-5. In coach John Harbaugh’s first five seasons, the team experienced the occasional slump or lull, even last year when it lost four of its last five regular season games before embarking on the Super Bowl run.
But this year’s slide feels a bit different. Baltimore is struggling in so many areas and not dominating in any.
With eight games to go, the Ravens are now in third place in the AFC North, 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Bengals (6-3) and a half-game behind the second-place Browns (4-5).
While a week ago, the Ravens’ positioning in the wild card race wasn’t so bad, another loss on the ledger is making things look awfully grim.
Barring a complete collapse by the Chiefs (9-0) or Broncos (7-1), there will be only one wild card up for grabs in the AFC. Right now, the Jets sit in that spot at 5-4.
Baltimore might be just 1 1/2 games back of the Jets, and winning some games could change the team’s outlook in a hurry. But the Ravens have six teams standing between them and a playoff spot.
That’s right - Baltimore is tied with the Raiders for 11th in the conference with the Jets in sixth, Titans, Dolphins and Chargers tied for seventh at 4-4, and the Browns alone in 10th at 4-5.
Odds are that one member of that horde will get hot at some point, but if all those teams keep following the same up-and-down trajectory, the Ravens will have a chance.
Baltimore still has plenty of opportunity to control its own fate with two games against the Bengals and one against the Jets. However, at the moment, the Ravens’ playoff chances wouldn’t be classified as probable.