Blog Entry

Are the Ravens the best the AFC can offer?

Posted on: November 7, 2011 12:19 am
Edited on: November 7, 2011 12:20 am
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T. Smith catches the game-winning pass from J. Flacco to beat Pittsburgh (AP).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

For most of Sunday night’s game, it looked like Joe Flacco was going to be just good enough to lead the Ravens to an important AFC North defeat. A Baltimore loss that would have put Pittsburgh in a great position for a run in the second half of the season that would make the Steelers the AFC conference title favorite.

Joe Flacco fumbled the ball in the fourth quarter, and then, after the Steelers scored to take the lead, the Ravens went three and out. They were done. And it wasn’t the least bit surprising.

Then, the Ravens -- and Flacco -- redeemed their season.

Despite the fact receivers Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin dropped passes late in the fourth quarter on Baltimore’s final drive, Flacco, who seems to have regressed as a quarterback this year, never lost his poise. He threw a gorgeous 26-yard touchdown pass to Smith with eight seconds to play to provide the game-winning score and beat the Steelers 23-20.

And now that Baltimore has won, sweeping the season series with Pittsburgh, are we silly to consider the Ravens the class of the AFC? It’s hard to say. Baltimore has played some horrendously bad games, losing to the Titans and the Jaguars. But they’ve also beaten the Steelers twice and knocked off the Jets and Texans. At this point, who else could be the AFC’s elite?

Not the Steelers. They’ve taken two bad losses to the Ravens, and that’s going to be a big problem if these two squads end up tied in the standings at the end of the year. The Patriots? It’s hard to take them seriously when their pass defense is so bad. The Bills? No, they looked shaky today in losing to the Jets. The Jets? Just not seeing it this year. The Texans? Maybe, but they still have to win their division and they’ve never done it before.

But what about -- and I would have laughed at this a few weeks ago -- the Bengals? Cincinnati and Baltimore play Nov. 20 and Jan. 1, and with their win at Tennessee today, the Bengals are 6-2, tied with the Ravens for first place in the AFC North.

The Ravens have a great defense, but so do the Bengals. As far as offensive skill players are concerned, the teams are evenly matched, but Cincinnati has been more consistent in playing solid football this season.  Still, I’m not convinced about Cincinnati quite yet.

The question: are the Ravens good enough to challenge the Packers for the title of NFL best? You could say yes after watching tonight’s game, but I’m not seeing yet, mainly because I don’t trust Flacco as an elite quarterback. Even with his 92-yard game-winning drive in the final 2:13, even with his 14 third-down conversions (the most against the Steelers since the 1970 merger), and even with his poise on the final drive, I’m not sure the Ravens are the AFC’s elite simply because I don’t believe in Flacco.

But you know what? “I don’t care,” Flacco said on NBC after the game. “We’re excited we won the football game.”

He should be. It was a hell of a win. But showing us that Baltimore is the AFC’s best? I’m just not ready to buy in yet.

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Comments

Since: Apr 1, 2010
Posted on: November 7, 2011 5:08 am
 

Are the Ravens the best the AFC can offer?

this is the problem with national media, they look at stats, they dont know the team very well and they say things like Joe Flacco has appeared to regress, if you know the situation you'd know its not Joe Flacco...the team got younger on offense in a hurry and their OL wasnt healthy and wasnt playing well...guys are coming along, Joe was never the problem



Since: Jan 15, 2007
Posted on: November 7, 2011 3:36 am
 

Are the Ravens the best the AFC can offer?

The Ravens, Steelers and Jets are really the only ones from the AFC that have a shot winning the Super Bowl. Then you have the 2nd level like Cincy, Oakland, Houston, Pats and Bills. I am not sure on the Chargers seeing how awful they have looked at times. Pats beating the Jets could help them move up but that D gives them no shot at all I think.  The Bengals are close too but I am not sure they will last the whole season and playing in that division does not help. they look great with the 5 straight wins and the 6-2 record but the only solid team they beat is Buffalo by 3. Other wins are jacksonville, Seattle, Tennessee, Indy and Cleveland. The next 5 weeks will tell us a lot about Cincy with Pitt 2 times, Baltimore and Houston once each. They could easily fall to 3rd place quick in the next few weeks and probably will.




Since: Jan 24, 2008
Posted on: November 7, 2011 3:14 am
 

Are the Ravens the best the AFC can offer?

Half the season has passed and I honestly do not believe that one team has seperated itself from the rest. The Bengals are efficient on offense and have great talent in the front and back ends of their defense. The Ravens have a great defense and have a offense that can be explosive. I still think the jury is out on pittsburgh which I believe is still a lot worse than what they appear to be. The Raiders, Chargers, Texans, Bills, Patroits, and Jets are in the conversation too. No team in the AFC has an identity nor has shown any level of consistency except the Bengals. So I would have to go with the Bengals till further notice. But this can be a week to week thing.



Since: Feb 26, 2007
Posted on: November 7, 2011 3:05 am
 

Are the Ravens the best the AFC can offer?

brian8ball,

You are the absolute reason why everyone despises Jets' fans... You do nothing but troll on these boards, using immature insults [such as "little man"] and blindly defending the Jets when it's clear they are a second-rate team this year. Please go crawl back into you hole and come back out when it's time to make excuses as to why the Jets missed the postseason.


brian8ball
Since: Aug 3, 2011
Posted on: November 7, 2011 2:39 am
This comment has been removed.

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brian8ball
Since: Aug 3, 2011
Posted on: November 7, 2011 2:39 am
This comment has been removed.

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brian8ball
Since: Aug 3, 2011
Posted on: November 7, 2011 2:03 am
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Since: Jan 6, 2007
Posted on: November 7, 2011 1:44 am
 

Are the Ravens the best the AFC can offer?

A comparison between the Bengals and Ravens defenses is something of a joke. Not to offend any Bengals fans, but the Ravens have more talent on every level. Cinci is playing excellent D this year, but no defense in the league has yet had a game like Baltimore did against the Jets. I don't know that I've seen any defensive unit have a game like that, except maybe the 2000 Ravens (I'm too young to remember the '85 Bears). On offense I would say that Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin, and Joe Flacco are a better trio than AJ Green, Andy Dalton, and whoever the Bengals are playing at RB right now (is it still Benson? Bernard Scott? Serious question here, guys) if only because of experience.

I don't want to take anything away from the Bengals right now, but I would really like to see some more quality wins before I say they're ready to compete with the best in the AFC. I would still put the Pats and Ravens above them, with a couple other teams around the same level. 


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