Coach John Harbaugh gave the Ravens off Friday to celebrate Christmas. Here are five things that should be on the Ravens’ wish list for Santa, as they hope for a better 2016:
1. A win over the Steelers on Sunday.
The Ravens (4-10) could sweep the Steelers (9-5) and do major damage to their playoff hopes by beating them Sunday. The Ravens haven’t had much to brag about this season. But sweeping the archrival Steelers would brighten the holiday mood for the Ravens. And for Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, losing to the Ravens would feel like getting a lump of coal for Christmas.
2. Better luck with injuries.
With an NFL-high 19 players on injured reserve, is it asking too much for the Ravens not to suffer any more injuries until next season? Let’s hope not.
3. A strong draft in 2016.
The Ravens need an influx of young talent to close the gap between them and AFC North rivals Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome is one of the best in the business, and he will have plenty of ammunition in next year’s draft. The Ravens must cash in to avoid another disappointing season.
4. Having Steve Smith, Terrell Suggs, and Joe Flacco in the lineup for Week 1 next season.
Ravens fans are hoping that Smith won’t retire, that Suggs (Achilles) makes a full recovery and returns, and that Flacco (knee surgery) is ready for the season opener next year. While the Ravens shouldn’t count on Smith and Suggs like they have in the past, having their talent and leadership around for at least one more season would be a plus.
5. More team speed.
The Ravens need to get faster on both sides of the ball, to create more big plays on offense, to prevent more big plays on defense, and to force more turnovers. A healthy return by wide receiver Breshad Perriman would give the Ravens’ offense another playmaker they didn’t have this season. But the Ravens’ decision-makers will be bringing their stopwatches to the draft, looking for more overall team speed.