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Ravens Not Alone With Inconsistency

In their last four games, the Baltimore Ravens are 2-2. In their last two games, they are 1-1. Every time they seem to be talked abut as one of the top teams in the AFC after coming off a big win, they suffer a letdown and lose to a team they appear to be superior to in every conceivable way. That inconsistency has fans concerned that this is no way for a Super Bowl-caliber contender to play week after week.

Relax Ravens fans, misery loves company. As frustrating as this 2011 NFL season has been to watch, you have company not just around the AFC North, but the AFC as a whole. Taking a look at the nine teams in the AFC with winning records, you see a different season shaping up to be perhaps the most competitive one in years, if not over the past decade at least.

Mediocrity may be the buzzword that will best describe the 2011 season, as there is no clear cut favorite in the AFC as opposed to the NFC, where the 8-0 Green Bay Packers are the class of the conference if not the league, followed closely by the 8-1 San Francisco 49ers. Four other teams in the NFC have three losses, but none anywhere nearly as consistent as the Packers and 49ers.

Five of the top nine teams in the AFC have three losses and the other four have four losses. You have to go all the way back to the 2002 season to find a similar season where the #1 seed for the playoffs had an 11-5 record and two 9-7 teams made the post season in the AFC.

The top nine teams in the AFC have a combined record of 52-31, but over their past four games it is only 22-14 and over their most recent two, it is an even 9-9. Certainly not a picture of superiority, much less consistency. Over those past four games, the hottest teams are the Houston Texans (4-0), Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1), New York Jets (3-1) and Cincinnati Bengals (3-1).

The Ravens are a combined 4-0 against those teams, with the first match-up of their home-and-home series with the Bengals coming next week in Baltimore.

Those same nine teams who are a combined 9-9 in their past two games show only the Houston Texans as the lone undefeated team over that span, with their last loss a 29-14 defeat at the hands of the Ravens.

What this all proves is that as bad as yesterday's 22-17 loss to the lowly 3-6 Seattle Seahawks was, the Ravens are still among the top teams in the conference, with a chance to be ahead of their competition in the AFC North and at or near the top of the AFC if they can stay perfect at home in 2011 with a victory over the Bengals next week.

Last Four Weeks:

Baltimore Ravens: 2-2

Pittsburgh Steelers: 3-1

Cincinnati Bengals: 3-1

New York Jets: 3-1

New England Patriots: 2-2

Buffalo Bills: 1-3

Houston Texans: 4-0

Tennessee Titans: 2-2

Oakland Raiders: 2-2

Overall: 22-14

Last Two Weeks:

Baltimore Ravens: 1-1

Pittsburgh Steelers: 1-1

Cincinnati Bengals: 1-1

New York Jets: 1-1

New England Patriots: 1-1

Buffalo Bills: 0-2

Houston Texans: 2-0

Tennessee Titans: 1-1

Oakland Raiders: 1-1

Overall: 9-9