WITH THE JETS on deck, this isn't the Sunday to wonder if the Ravens need intervention, like commandos sent in to yank brainwashed cult members out of the bunker. And oh, what a bunker they're in.
The team's new training facility has a cafeteria, video games, a pool table and enough earth-toned ceramic tile to line Interstate 83 from Owings Mills all the way down to M&T Bank Stadium.
It proves you can sit on top of the world, even with the worst offense in the NFL.
So what, right? In the 2000 season finale, the Jets helped embolden the Ravens' unorthodox mind-set - the one that says they don't need to be a team where the quarterback is good for at least one or two wins each season.
The Jets ran off 524 yards of offense that December day in 2000. They held the Ravens to five first downs, but still lost, 34-20. The Ravens forced six turnovers, which is why to this very day, fantasy football players count on the Ravens' defense for points.
With the worst offense and the NFL's stingiest defense, Brian Billick still serves up his special recipe Kool-Aid - and players like Ed Reed are eager to stir the potent cocktail.
With Reed's shoe-top pick and NFL-record 106-yard return for a touchdown last week against the Browns, the Ravens' safety made sure that the frothy, brainwashing tonic went down nice and smooth.
At 5-3, with the Chad Pennington-less Jets on the docket today, the Ravens are rolling along, status quo, thinking what they've been made to think: We won the Super Bowl without scoring touchdowns, we can get there again.
If Reed can serve as playmaker/difference-maker for the Ravens in the clutch, that means the defense and/or special teams made it one more week that the phone lines, talk-radio callers and Internet chat rooms didn't burn with talk about Kyle Boller and how he's not capable of winning a game for the Ravens.
This becomes all the more crucial in games against AFC opponents, with the Steelers looking tough to beat for the AFC North title. The Ravens are trying to beat back any tiebreak opportunities, not an easy task when road games against the Jets, New England, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are ahead.
If there was a game in which a quarterback's ability to pull out a win was already a factor, the Ravens have their 27-24 loss to Kansas City to consider. Trailing, the Ravens got the ball back on their 27 with 2:33 remaining and pushed to their 40 before a fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
Boller went 10-for-17 that day, too inexperienced and off-target against a very aggressive Chiefs defense. He never led a drive that lasted longer than nine plays.
Last week against the Browns, Boller "graduated" from a rookie season that spanned two years. He got a slightly thicker playbook and was asked to throw 30 times. This became a necessity, once it was clear the Browns had no confidence in Boller's ability to beat them, instead loading up against the run.
That he completed only 17 passes was enough to spark more derisive comments from another NFL broadcast crew.
"When and if Boller will ever complete a long pass to make the defense honest and get Jamal Lewis some running room ... "
Hard to tell if that's a taped message or if, by some coincidence, anyone who watches or analyzes the Ravens' offense comes up with the exact same conclusion.
Back at home, though, in the palatial estate up in the suburban wonderland of Owings Mills, the Ravens drink the drink and sing the party line - and they believe it.
"This is a team. This is truly a team; offense, defense and special teams," receiver Travis Taylor said.
What else can a receiver on this team say? The Ravens' offense is ranked last in the league. Other than Kerry Collins, there isn't a quarterback in the league who is performing as poorly as Boller, which is demonstrated in some of the most astounding stats this side of Ripley's.
It takes scrolling down the season's list of top NFL receivers to find the Ravens' Randy Hymes ranked at No. 44, with a paltry 235 yards - and 57 yards came on one catch against Kansas City.
No problem, apparently. Jamal Lewis is so willful about carrying the ball he won't let 10 defensive players in the box alter his mind-set.
"I see that every week," he said.
But if he was frustrated last week against Cleveland, Lewis goes into today's game convinced the Ravens' offense is a viable product.
"I don't buy into the [theory that the quarterback has to win you a game on occasion]. As long as the offensive line is doing what they can do, which is dominate, we can win at the line. We went to the Super Bowl like that. As long as the quarterback doesn't make mistakes," Lewis said.
"We have the quarterback who can do it. He's growing. He's coming along," Lewis said.
That the team hangs tough and formidable despite the existence of a bona-fide offense means at least one thing: The Kool-Aid still tastes good.