Ravens: The past is the past
If you've been reading my column, you know that no one has harped more about the Ravens' problems against struggling teams more than I have, but I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that it won't be a problem any more.
Here's why: The Ravens suffered their apparent letdowns at a point in the season when they were going back and forth between high-intensity games against really good teams (and winning most of them convincingly) and seemingly less-significant games against teams that they were expected to beat. It's on them that they didn't beat some of those teams, because they'd be sitting pretty in the AFC home-field derby right now if they had won even one of the three games they lost, but the past is the past.
The difference now is multi-fold:
1. The Ravens will have plenty of time to moderate their emotions after their uplifting Thursday night victory over the 49ers. Ten days between games is almost like coming off a bye week, which will help the Ravens get healthy and mentally refreshed.
2. There are no more of those super-intensity games until the season finale against the Bengals on the road, and who knows if that one will still be significant. If the Ravens take care of business in Cleveland, that will be the end of the emotional roller coaster. They'll just need to remain on an even keel to get through the games they are supposed to win.
3. There can be no doubt in any corner of the lockerroom that the Ravens have no margin for error the rest of the way if they want to be playing home games in the postseason. Every game is a must-win game, and the Ravens have won every game they've felt that way about this year.
Been wrong before, of course, but I can't see the Browns making a dent in the Ravens defense this weekend. The key for the Ravens is pretty simple. Don't turn the ball over and the rest will take care of itself.