For most of their history, fans of the Baltimore Ravens always felt their team was targeted by the NFL, and not in a good way.
But after their thrilling sudden death AFC Divisional Round playoff victory over the Denver Broncos, their story may now make them the biggest draw for the Super Bowl. The possible fairy tale ending to Ray Lewis' career could come with him hoisting the Super Bowl trophy down in New Orleans.
His final game at the biggest game of the year could be part of the better match-up compared to seeing the New England Patriots and Tom Brady for the sixth time in the last dozen years. Outside of the northeast, most football fans are more than tired of having to endure all the love the announcers show towards #12, only to see him lose the last two times he's been there, both times as big favorites.
However, the Ravens could draw great headlines in match-ups with either the San Francisco 49ers or Atlanta Falcons. If Baltimore plays San Francisco, there would be the obvious match-up of the two Harbaugh head coaches, aptly changing the unofficial name of the game to the "Har-bowl."
There would also be the comparisons between the Ravens #52 (Lewis) and 49ers (Patrick Willis), as well as the two future stars at QB. Ironically, it could also possibly feature the Ravens current placekicker, Justin Tucker, against the Ravens former placekicker, Billy Cundiff, who is currently on the 49ers roster as a backup.
If the Ravens play the Atlanta Falcons, then the face-to-face ultimate way to settle the five-year old "Matt Ryan vs. Joe Flacco" debate. The constant comparison between Matty Ice and Joe Cool is sure to raise the ire of Ravens fans, who see their QB's playoff record compared to the other guy's first post season win only last week and laugh in response.
Either match-up is sure to have more side stories and angles than any that would come out of one involving the Patriots and Brady. The NFL is all about the Benjamin's and the Ravens angles clearly out-trumps any other, meaning the combination of the different stories they bring with them would make the league more money.
Hence, the theory that the league prefers the Ravens beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, a very strange and rare feeling for Baltimore fans to experience. Now all the Ravens need to do is to go out there and make the NFL's dream come true and, ....play on!