BALTIMORE MD - DECEMBER 05: Derrick Mason #85 of the Baltimore Ravens argues a call with a referee during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium on December 5 2010 in Baltimore Maryland. Pittsburgh won 13-10. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
You have to give it to Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason, who is on a team that's hearing it from fans after Joe Flacco lost a fumble against the Pittsburgh Steelers with 3:22 left in a game. The Steelers would score a late touchdown three plays later and reverse a four-point deficit into a three-point win. The following week, Baltimore gave up a 21-point lead, allowing two touchdown drives of over 95 yards in the fourth quarter allowing the Houston Texans to send the game into overtime. Baltimore would win the game on a pick-six by Josh Wilson.
If the season were to end today, then there would serious investigations as to why the season only lasted 14 weeks. The Ravens would also make the playoffs as the fifth seed by way of a tie-breaker against the New York Jets. The truth is, it would be extremely hard for the Ravens to miss the playoffs -- they can clinch this weekend with a win and several scenarios of teams losing -- Colts and Chargers losing is one, Colts, Dolphins and Chiefs is another and Dolphins, Chargers and Colts is a third.
However, scenarios also exist in which the Ravens could miss the playoffs. First, the Ravens have to lose to the Saints this weekend -- but can beat the Browns in week 16. Then you have to include that the Jaguars and Chargers have to win out along with the Colts and Jets winning two of their next three games. In that scenario, the Ravens would be in a must-win situation in week 17. Against the Cincinnati Bengals.
While the Ravens are still comfortable in most playoff scenarios, fans are somewhat concerned about recent play and Derrick Mason gets that.
"We could be worse," Mason said. "We could be Buffalo or Cincinnati. We could be completely out of the playoffs right now. But we're 9-4. You can't satisfy everybody. Obviously we'd like to be going into this week undefeated just like everybody else in the NFL wants to be. But the reality is, it don't happen that way. Some weeks you play well, and some weeks to skate by like we did this last week. I can understand the fans frustration, but they've got to look at the big picture. Where are we? We're 9-4 and if the playoffs happened right now, we'd be the fifth seed. Stop being a pessimist. Be an optimist. Be happy with where we are. Because honestly, it could be a lot worse."
True. It could be worse for Ravens fans. There's no question that the Bengals are one of the worst teams in the NFL. And perhaps most of the time, Mason would be correct in using the hypothetical.But if I were Mason, I'd be a little more cautious about what team you use. Specifically, the Bengals.
Even though Cincinnati is 2-11, one of those wins came against the Baltimore Ravens. The Bengals have won ten of the previous 12 meetings against Baltimore. In the past two seasons, Mason has combined for only four receptions for 62 yards and quarterback Joe Flacco has thrown eight interceptions against the Bengals defense in the past three games.
As Bengals fans, we have no illusions that this team is bad. But there's something to be said about a scenario in which the Bengals could knock Baltimore out of the playoffs. And if that's not enough to get Bengals fans up for one last hurray before what's going to be a long and difficult offseason, then you're simply not alive.