The Ravens won just five games last season, yet believe they can be a playoff team in 2016. Recent history suggests they can pull it off.
During the past five seasons, seven NFL teams have made the jump from five wins or less, to the playoffs the following year. The only year it didn’t happen was 2014:
Bengals went from 4-12 to 9-7, made playoffs as wild card.
Broncos went from 4-12 to 8-8, won AFC West.
Colts went from 2-14 to 11-5, made playoffs as wild card.
Redskins went from 5-11 to 10-6, won NFC East.
Chiefs went from 2-14 to 11-5, made playoffs as wild card.
Eagles went from 4-12 to 10-6, won NFC East.
Redskins went from 4-12 to 9-7, won NFC East.
There are several reasons why the Ravens believe 2016 will be a bounce-back season.
So many key players missed significant time with injuries last year, including quarterback Joe Flacco, linebacker Terrell Suggs, wide receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Breshad Perriman, running back Justin Forsett, and left tackle Eugene Monroe. The Ravens believe their luck avoiding injuries almost has to be better in 2016.
Meanwhile, the Ravens like what they did during an 11-pick draft that should improve their depth. They also believe free agent pickups like safety Eric Weddle, cornerback Jerraud Powers, wide receiver Mike Wallace, and tight end Ben Watson have strengths that will make them more versatile and consistent.
Then there is John Harbaugh’s track record, with six playoff appearances during his eight years as head coach. Harbaugh has never missed the playoffs two consecutive seasons.
None of that guarantees anything for the 2016 Ravens. But while going from 4-12 to the playoffs won’t be easy, that kind of leap is hardly unprecedented.