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This Sunday (1pm CBS) is a must win for the Ravens.  If they want any chance at winning the division (let alone getting into the playoffs), they need to go on a big winning streak to close out the season.

Such a feat has been done several times, most recently with Washington last year, when they were at one point 3-6 and knocked off 7 straight victories to make the playoffs.  At 3-5, our guys are in somewhat better shape, but the NFL is unpredictable and anything could happen in the 2nd half of the season.

Like I’ve mentioned before, the Ravens were indeed 9-2 last year before their 3 game losing streak.  So far this season, they’ve encountered a 3 game losing streak early in the schedule rather than later.  You can look here and see that similar losing streaks have hit the Ravens in the past 6 years.  This is a regular occurrence, and there’s also the big winning streaks that come along during the season.

The Ravens under John Harbaugh have never won more than 4 games in a row during the regular season (again, see for yourself in the link I provided).  Two things to note though: our guys are proving this year that streaks are meant to be broken & this can be advantageous for us if the streak stays the same.

If the Ravens are indeed incapable of winning 4 games in a row with Flacco under center, then the best case scenario would be for finishing the season on a 7-1 run, ensuring a 10-6 record and a likely playoff spot.  Again, its doable, anything is possible, and it has been done before.

There’s a good reason certain teams don’t try to peak early during the season.  Despite all of the conditioning, the expansive playbooks, the bigger, stronger, faster players, fatigue can hit anybody.  You can look no further than the 2012 Houston Texans.  A team who seemed unstoppable and destined to win the Super Bowl ended up fading during their last 4 games and were embarrassed by the Patriots in the playoffs.  For a team to start the 11-1 is incredible!  But it does nothing if the same team can’t keep it up throughout the playoffs.

Don’t forget the 2007 Patriots either.  The sole team to end the regular season 16-0.  The team who set many different offensive records in just one season.  Also, with the dubious record being the one team in NFL history to have a 18-1 total record which didn’t result in a Super Bowl win.

The peaking aspect should be in all teams’ minds, as there are the opposite cases of teams who barely get to qualify for the playoffs and win the Super Bowl by peaking at the right time.  The New York Giants are masters at this practice.  The sole Super Bowl win for Peyton Manning came during the season where his team had one of its worst win-loss records during his tenure.  The fact that Peyton could only win it all the one time his team wasn’t comfortably ahead of the rest of his division is worth taking note.

When it comes to wins in any sport, the process involves skill, prep work, solid coaching, as well as a bit of luck.  Any one team can be somewhat sure how many yards they can likely get against any other team.  They can’t, however, be so sure about turnovers.  Granted, if one team has a terrible quarterback and the other has a great secondary, you’re likely to see interceptions.  But what about fumbles?

Fumbles are a unique aspect in football.  There are many rules that have been written & rewritten regarding whether or not a fumble has occurred.  You can’t, however, provide statistics demonstrating the likelihood of expected fumbles in any game.

Ray Rice has been very good in his career at keeping fumbling to an absolute minimum.  Last season, he fumbled twice for the entire year.  Last postseason, he fumbled at least twice, as well as the start of this season.  Why did that happen?  It’s just bad luck.  Same as when an intended pass gets deflected, flies up in the air, and caught by a defensive player.  It counts as an interception against the quarterback, but its an iffy stat that also owes itself to luck.

If you’re like me, (I see some similarities between you and I) you may find that you’re somewhat at fault for the bad luck this season.  No I’m not singling out anybody, and I’ll probably be blaming myself more so than any particular fan.  There was a poll that came out this year that ranked Ravens fans as the most superstitious.  Yeah, we’re #1 in that department.

Honestly, every Sunday I’ve been racking my brain to try to get back into the lucky groove I was in last year.  It comes to the weekend where I decide how I’m going to approach the game and in what manner in order to assure a win.  I’m trying something different that I haven’t done since about August, and hopefully there’s luck to be had from that.

Until then, we should just focus on the strengths of both the Ravens and our opponents for this week: the Bengals.  Now, I may be biased in my analysis, but I feel the Bengals are a wounded team that is on a downward track.  Either Andy Dalton is just having an off year, or teams have really figured him out and made him a nonfactor.  Either way, his 6-3 record this year does not seem to reflect his actual team’s progress so far.

They are hurting on defense which is normally their underrated strength.  AJ Green, their best offensive weapon, hasn’t gotten as much opportunities to grab the headlines with his play.  Although the Ravens just lost to the Browns, so did the Bengals but at a point when the Browns were not as good.  And now they lose arguably their best defender for the season in Geno Atkins.

Even during the Ravens’ 3 game losing streak, they were very close in each game and could have very well won all three and be 6-2.  Part of the losses can be attributed to bad luck and that can’t be helped.

Or can it?  Good luck to the Ravens and all the fans!


P.S. I took a closer look at the link regarding past schedules, and the Ravens have encountered 3 game losing streaks in 2008, 2009, 2012, and now 2013.