5 questions for the Ravens after the bye [Pictures]
By Matt Vensel, The Baltimore Sun
Here are five questions the Ravens must answer when the second half unofficially kicks off:
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The Ravens entered their bye week with a 5-2 record and a two-win cushion over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North. But as players enjoy hard-earned downtime back at their offseason homes or in warmer, sunnier locales, coach John Harbaugh and his staff are trying to tackle a handful of ongoing concerns that were exploited in Sunday's 43-13 loss to the Houston Texans.
"It's going to be on our shoulders. It's going to be our opportunity to see what we can do with those nine games, and we're going to attack those things with 'an enthusiasm unknown to mankind,' to quote a great coach," Harbaugh said, giving a not-so-subtle nod to his father, Jack.
Among the things the Ravens will need to attack are their inconsistent offense, a toothless pass rush, a run defense that allowed an average of 207.3 rushing yards the past three games, and their tendency to start slowly away from M&T Bank Stadium. And they must do it with urgency.
The Ravens hit the road again after the bye week to take on the Cleveland Browns and then host the Oakland Raiders a week later, followed by road trips to Pittsburgh and San Diego in back-to-back weeks. Other tough opponents after that include the Steelers (again), Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos, and New York Giants, who are the defending Super Bowl champions.
"I think these next couple of weeks are going to be big," outside linebacker Paul Kruger said. "This bye came at a perfect time. I feel like we're going to get our bodies back, get our rest and it will be easier to come back and refocus and get the excitement back and come in strong."