Did it all finally catch up to the Baltimore Ravens?
The injury situation is dire with star linebacker Ray Lewis, among others, out hurt. The schedule probably didn't help with a short week last month before playing in one of the NFL's colossally dumb Thursday night games on three days' rest. And while the Ravens won five of their first six games anyway, it was clear they were hanging on for dear life.
Wins over New England, Cleveland, Kansas City and Dallas came by a combined 13 points, and only one of those teams has a winning record through Week 7. And four of those games were in the friendly confines of M&T Bank Stadium.
So maybe we should have expected a 43-13 blowout at the hands of the Houston Texans last weekend -- a team that itself was 5-1 entering the game and intent on avenging last year's playoff loss in Baltimore. But it begs the question: Where do the Ravens go from here with Lewis out maybe for the rest of the season after having surgery to repair a torn triceps and top cornerback Lardarius Webb definitely out for the year with a torn ACL?
"They are in trouble," NBC football analyst Rodney Harrison said. "All those injuries on defense to their main players. I don't know if they are going to be good enough to be able to overcome those injuries."
The one thing saving Baltimore from any unnecessary panic is that the AFC North isn't what it once was. The Pittsburgh Steelers are off to a 3-3 start entering this weekend's home game against the Redskins. The Cincinnati Bengals are 3-4, and the hopeless Browns are 1-6. Somebody has to win that division.
Baltimore is off this week thanks to a well-timed bye and then has games against the Browns and the Oakland Raiders (2-4). Settle down that shaky defense, which has allowed 72 points in its last two games, and get star running back Ray Rice the ball -- he had just nine carries against Houston -- and the Ravens will be in good shape before playing the Steelers twice in 14 days (Nov. 18 and Dec. 2).
- Brian McNally