By Erik Helmle
Elm Staff Writer
At the end of the National Football League season, it seems to all come down to numbers. There are 32 teams, which are divided into two conferences and four divisions within those conferences. Among these 32 teams are the 12 who will reach the playoffs, and among those 12 there will be two who will battle it out in the most-watched annual sporting event in the world for the title of NFL Super Bowl Champions. In order for a team to get there, of course, they need to win and win consistently. As of Week 5, there are only 10 teams with winning records. This is not atypical given the relative competitiveness the NFL has seen as of late and the fact that only five games have passed, but it is a bit alarming once you begin to rattle off some of the records of teams that made or almost made the playoffs last year. Some of the more recently decent teams that are struggling right now include the Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks, and Detroit Lions.
Which brings us to the Baltimore Ravens. Out of all teams that made the playoffs following the 2014 Regular Season, the Ravens at 1-4 have the second-worst record out of the 12 other teams who qualified. The only team in the entire league that has a worse record than the Ravens as of Week 5 is the Lions, who are sitting at 0-5. The Ravens’ lone win came in an overtime thriller against a Steelers squad that was missing their starting quarterback and was held captive by a terrible kicker. After losing to the Browns in overtime, the fingers have begun to point towards potential sources for the team’s struggles. The perceived culprit is the spotty defense, which has been able to keep games competitive but has been unable to stop late-game drives that lead to opponents winning by single scores; three of the Ravens’ four losses have been a result of these drives. Losing close games makes the experience particularly painful for the team as well as their fans. A frustrated Ravens fan studying at Washington College, who wished to remain anonymous, exclaimed that he feels his team “gets on the bus before the game ends”.
Another local NFL team, the Redskins, are not faring much better. In the extremely underwhelming NFC East division, the Redskins are currently in a three-way tie for second place with a 2-3 record. Their wins have been unimpressive, and their losses have been abysmal. With Robert Griffin III on the bench indefinitely, former backup quarterback Kirk Cousins is leading his team on the turf to mixed results. He currently has five touchdowns and six interceptions, and personally sealed the game on Sunday with one of his interceptions being returned for a touchdown. The entirety of the Redskins’ 53-man roster is loaded with question marks. Inconsistent running backs, receivers who are unable to handle catches, and a defense that seemingly only makes plays when it feels like it. This is a recipe for disaster, and everyone involved seems to know it.
Fortunately for the Redskins, they still have a decent chance to turn their season around in their divisional race. Their main competition for now will come from the mercurial New York Giants but the Dallas Cowboys will benefit from the return of both their star quarterback and wide receiver in about a month, which will open up the division again. The Ravens, however, are not so lucky. The 5-0 Bengals rule the division right now, and for many the 2015 season appears to be lost for Baltimore.