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What Can The Ravens Do To Get Back Into The Playoffs?

These are worrying times for Ravens fans. After John Harbaugh guided the team to the postseason six times in his first seven years, they’ve now gone three consecutive campaigns without reaching the playoffs. For a franchise that has been as successful as the Ravens have, that’s a disappointing run, and fans will be hoping for better next season.

Despite their 2017 struggles, it is worth pointing out that they won five of their last seven regular season games and finished with a winning record. Though they are second favourites behind the Steelers to win the AFC North with most online sportsbooks, Ravens fans who bet with Stakers will be hoping that the disappointment of last season will lead to their side starting a few games at tempting odds this fall.

However, before then, there are some issues for the Ravens management to address, and the starting point has to be to analyze what went wrong last time.

The main problem was on offense. The Ravens’ passing game was poor last time, averaging 189.4 yards per game. That was largely down to the inconsistent and under-performing receiver group. They also struggled in third and long scenarios. Without a tricky back who can consistently pick up those seven or eight-yard gains, they were easy to counter, and their 4.6 yards per play on third downs was the worst in the NFL.

There were also defensive issues. Sure, C.J. Mosley had a second Pro Bowl season, but while the team were strong when it came to stopping wide receivers, the same can’t be said for tight ends. Both Mosley and Patrick Onwuasor were poor against passes thrown to the tight ends, and as the tight-end position continues to evolve into more of a receiving position, that weakness is going to cause problems going forward.

How can the Ravens improve this time around? Some of the offensive work has already been done. GM Ozzie Newsome has been busy overhauling the receiving core. Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin are out, and we won’t be seeing Michael Campanaro or Ben Watson return, while John Brown and Michael Crabtree have been added to the roster. Meanwhile, new defensive coordinator Don Martindale will be working on fixing the tight-end problem.

While some of the issues can be fixed in training and through free agency, the Ravens also need to add strength in the draft. At least one high-potential wide receiver and a fast, strong outside linebacker will be top of the list, but Newsome will also be looking for a talented back who can correct their third-down problem. Ravens fans shouldn’t be surprised to see them also looking at quarterbacks, given that Joe Flacco isn’t getting any younger.

The core of the Ravens’ roster is strong, particularly on defense, and if they can fix the tight-end receiving issue and refresh the offense, there is every chance that Baltimore will end their run and get into the playoffs next season.

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