Baltimore Ravens
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Baltimore Ravens

Jaguars-Ravens Preview

Published Nov. 13, 2015 1:31 p.m. ET

While the Baltimore Ravens' public display of optimism is a sign of faith following a rough first half, the task of still achieving their goal of reaching the playoffs is downright daunting.

The Ravens continue that hefty challenge Sunday while trying to hand the Jacksonville Jaguars a 14th consecutive road defeat.

A playoff qualifier six of the last seven seasons, Baltimore (2-6) returns from its bye week with the belief it is still a contender.

"I expect our guys to have high expectations," said coach John Harbaugh, whose team's losses have come by a total of 30 points. "The standard here has been high.


"We're not going to let those expectations go. We're not pleased with where we're at, just like the fans aren't pleased, the coaches aren't pleased, the players aren't pleased. Nobody in the organization is pleased with where we're at, but we're very determined to turn it around."

That remains a tall order no matter how much they believe. Since 1990, no team that started 1-6 like these Ravens has reached the playoffs. Only three teams are behind Baltimore in the AFC.

"That's why it's going to feel so much greater when we finally make it, coming back from this record and the first eight games of this season," cornerback Jimmy Smith said. "Let's make some history."

With five home games left, Baltimore would seem to have an advantage. However, a 29-26 win over last-place San Diego on Nov. 1 is the Ravens' only victory at M&T Bank Stadium.

"The first half of the season is gone. You can't do anything to bring that back or change anything about it," linebacker Daryl Smith said. "What we do have in front of us is the rest of our games. Our future is in front of us. We're not really thinking about what we've done, but it's all about what we're getting ready for."

They must improve a defense that has not forced a turnover in five straight games and yielded an average of 27.9 points since losing Pro Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs (Achilles) in a season-opening 19-13 loss at Denver.

A torn Achilles also ended Steve Smith's season after the 36-year-old led the team with 46 receptions and 670 yards. Tight end Dennis Pitta was placed on injured reserve Wednesday with a hip injury that's limited him to seven games since the start of the 2013 season.

Justin Forsett rushed for 271 yards in the first two games of October but has since totaled 167 in three games on 3.6 per carry.

"All of our guys understand that this is the game that matters," Harbaugh said. "We need to be 1-0 this week, and we have a lot of 1-0's in front of us that we have to take care of."

The Ravens have won six straight home games over Jacksonville, including a 20-12 victory last season when they sacked Blake Bortles eight times.

The Jaguars (2-6) haven't won a road game anywhere since beating Cleveland on Dec. 1, 2013. Their 13-game skid away from home is the worst in franchise history and currently the longest in the NFL.

However, their last three road losses have been by seven points or less, including one in overtime at Indianapolis in Week 4. Jacksonville hung around last Sunday when they visited the New York Jets, but a fumble and an interception by Bortles ended two of its four drives in the fourth quarter en route to a 28-23 defeat.

The Jaguars have 10 turnovers in the last four games - six in the fourth quarter of the last three - after committing just four in their first four contests.

"I love the spirit of our team," coach Gus Bradley said. "I love how they're relentless and they don't blink and they battle and they fight and they scratch. They'll do anything they can to give us a chance to be victorious. Unfortunately, it's not enough."

Though Bortles has thrown 17 TD passes and at least two in four straight games, he has six INTs and three fumbles over the past three.

Bradley, though, remains pleased with Bortles' progress.

"I think he is doing a lot of really good things, a lot of good things," Bradley said. "I think that in critical times he is making plays. He's giving the receivers a chance. ... Yeah, there's going to be some areas where he continues to improve on, but that's everybody in this game."

Rookie T.J. Yeldon has averaged 5.3 yards per carry while gaining 179 in the last two games, and second-year wideout Allen Robinson is among the league leaders with 707 receiving yards and six touchdown catches.

Allen Hurns has a TD catch in a franchise-record six consecutive contests and hopes to play Sunday despite spraining his foot last week when he caught five balls for a season-high 122 yards. He practiced on a limited basis Friday and says he's "very confident I'll be out there."


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