After dominating Jacksonville, San Francisco, and Miami in consecutive weeks, the Baltimore Ravens looked like the dominant force everyone had been waiting for all season. Forget about the hiccup Saturday night against Pittsburgh (minus Lamar Jackson), Baltimore is viewed by many as the favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Despite recent explosive performances against some of the best teams in the NFL, it’s still hard to trust the Ravens based on previous postseason failures.
Since 2018, the Ravens have had one postseason victory, the lone playoff win in Jackson’s career. In fact, this franchise has just one other postseason win since hoisting their second Lombardi trophy over a decade ago. While they’ve been consistently in the mix under head coach John Harbaugh over the past 10 years, the Ravens don’t have much playoff success to show for it.
This season Baltimore flew under the radar for quite a while, as they have in previous years. Most sports talk shows outside of Maryland were busy rambling on and on about the Dolphins, Bills, and Chiefs. All good teams in their own right and Kansas City are the defending champs. However, as steady as this Ravens squad has been all year, they’ve frequently fallen down the list of talking points for most NFL pundits.
Baltimore has been quietly dominant but, even as they’ve made their ascent up the mountain, Harbaugh’s team has still been overshadowed by teams like the 49ers, Cowboys, and Eagles. That is until a couple of weeks ago when they put a special Christmas butt whooping on San Francisco. The final score in that game (33-19) made it seem a lot closer than it was. Baltimore went out there with something to prove and beat down most people’s favorite (to that point) in their own stadium.
When it comes to winning on the road, the Ravens have been the best this year — posting a 7-1 record. Baltimore also sports the best point differential in the league (+203) and ranks first in points allowed on defense and fourth in points scored on offense. The Ravens are arguably the most well-balanced team in the NFL. The second loss to the Steelers in Week 18 wasn’t a good look, but when you rest your superstar quarterback that’s the biggest shock in the world.
Having already locked up home-field advantage, which left coach Harbaugh with a decision, and he chose to opt for Jackson to rest. And looking back at Jackson’s history of missing games late in the season over the past few years, that looks like the wise choice right now. The last time the Ravens finished atop the AFC in the regular season they showed up in the divisional round and were upset by the Titans, 28-12.
That was a game in which Jackson tossed the ball 59 times playing from behind through the entire contest. While Jackson was only in his second year as a pro, he was coming off an MVP campaign — so to see the Ravens bounced in such a way was shocking. That doesn’t mean the same fate awaits this time around, but it’s got to be in the back of their minds. That loss feels like so long ago, but we know how history has a way of repeating itself. It’s up to the Ravens to remove all doubt and prove to the world they deserve to be the favorite in the AFC.
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