One very simple way to put yourself in position for a playoff spot is to perform well against your division rivals.
That’s an area in which the Ravens have excelled under John Harbaugh.
Since Harbaugh took over the Ravens’ head coaching reigns in 2008, his team is 14-7 against division foes. Those numbers have been even stronger of late, as the Ravens have won five straight AFC North games and seven of their last eight.
The bulk of those division wins over the last three and a half seasons have come over this Sunday’s opponent, the Browns. Baltimore has won six straight games against Cleveland, with its last defeat at the hands of the Browns coming all the way back in November of 2007.
Given the way the two franchises have each performed the last few seasons, it’s hard to believe there was a time when the Browns earned a season sweep of the Ravens. That is, in fact, what happened during that 2007 campaign, when Cleveland went 10-6 and came up just short of a playoff spot.
Here’s another indication of the Ravens’ strong play in the division the last few years: they have allowed just 13.8 points per game against AFC North opponents since 2008, ranking as the NFL’s best average by a defense in games within a division.
For anyone wondering if Emanuel Cook, the defensive back claimed off waivers by the Ravens yesterday, has any kick return experience, the answer is no.
Cook contributed to the Jets’ special teams during his 12 games with the team (including eight this season), making six special teams tackles, but he has not returned any punts in his NFL career, and only is credited with one kickoff return for zero yards.
Baltimore’s run/pass ratio has come into question a lot this season, but here’s an interesting stat which shows just how heavily the Ravens have relied on the run down the stretch in past seasons:
Since 2008, the Ravens have ran the ball 453 times in December and January and have averaged 152.6 rushing yards per game during those months, a total which is the NFL’s third-best average in that span.
The Ravens have also excelled at stopping the run in the winter months, allowing an NFL-low 83.2 rushing yards per game during December and January in Harbaugh’s tenure as head coach.