When the standings in the NFL are looked at this morning, we will see the Baltimore Ravens with a 2-1 record heading into a key AFC North match-up with the Steelers in Pittsburgh next Sunday. The Ravens have played three close games, winning two of them in games that were not decided until the final moments. However, many fans will say that a win is a win, regardless of how the victory was earned. Others will point to winning a close game when the expectations were for a blowout over a winless team in their home opener.
Meanwhile, next week's opponents, the Pittsburgh Steelers, went on the road and destroyed an undefeated Tampa Bay Buccaneers team with their third string QB leading the way. Therefore, if a win is still a win, is it enough to give confidence to the fans that the Ravens can go into Heinz Field and defeat their arch rivals playing the way they have so far in 2010?
Of course, most fans couldn't care less if the Ravens go to Pittsburgh and squeak out a victory, as long as we come away with the "W." However, if we have to scratch and hold our collective breath to come from behind in the fourth quarter to beat the lowly Browns, how can we expect to win on the road in as hostile environment as there is in the league? Lots of fans will shake their heads and say we have no chance to win right now, as we are either not laying good on offense one game or on defense the next. The offense behind a solid game from both Joe Flacco and Anquan Boldin, who hooked up for three TD connections yesterday, outplayed a defense that could not stop the run, allowing a 100 yard rusher and over 170 total yards on the ground.
Knowing that the Steelers defense is a lot better than the Browns, and the fact that Pittsburgh hung over 30 points on the road in Tampa, can the Ravens limit the scoring enough for Flacco and company to put enough points on the board against a team that has haunted them and especially Flacco in his previous two seasons in the league.
That remains to be seen, but for now, a win and we are at the top of the division, regardless of how pretty or ugly that win might look like. Next week will give the Ravens and their fans a true idea of where this team stands in the competition not only for the AFC North, but as a playoff and dare we say, a Super Bowl contender?