The Baltimore Ravens return to M&T Bank Stadium to host the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football. The friendly confines of their home-field advantage has been just that for the Ravens, winners of eleven straight regular season home games going back to the 2010 season. The Ravens swept their home schedule in 2011 and the last home loss was to the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 13 of the 2010 season.
Unfortunately, they are 6-5 on the road since that last home loss, proving that not only is it tough to win on the road in the NFL,but tough for the Ravens to beat the teams they are expected to beat, even as visitors. Losing to the Philadelphia Eagles in a manner fans have seen all too often during this trend continues to be disturbing.
If the Ravens return to the safety of the home crowd and beat the Patriots, does this exonerate the poor performance of the team, especially QB Joe Flacco, whose second half performance was as much of a problem as the defense's inability to slow down Michael Vick and the Eagles offense?
Flacco still needs to prove that he can succeed in the opponent's den, with the sound of the crowd in his ears. He needs to be able to consistently silence that crowd by making the throws we've seen him make in Baltimore. Flacco needs to be able to accurately and efficiently drive his team downfield, be it for the game-winning touchdown or in position for the game-winning field goal.
We know he can do it because we've all witnessed it happen over the past four years. However, it has not been consistent enough to earn him the accolades he obviously so desperately craves. Until he can do it on a regular basis and not every now or then, there will always remain that question of whether or not he is an elite quarterback.
Right now, after Sunday's performance, or better stated, non-performance, he;s not. A win Sunday night over the Patriots will be a sweet revenge for the AFC Championship Game, where, ironically, Flacco had an excellent game, certainly even better than his counterpart, Tom Brady. However, it will not erase the doubts that surround Flacco and the Ravens once they go back on the road once again. Only time and the results will change the current question marks.