So many NFL analysts have criticized the Baltimore Ravens for their Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde personality. They look so good at home but so bad on the road, they say. They cannot be a true Super Bowl contender unless they can be more consistent, they say. Their offense is anemic and their defense cannot stop anyone, they say. They are in trouble, they say.
The Ravens abused the Oakland Raiders in every definition of the word in yesterday's 55-20 beatdown. All three phases, offense, defense and special teams bullied the Raiders all day long. Despite a statistically impressive day from Oakland QB Carson Palmer, who threw for 368 yards while playing from behind, this was as complete a victory for Baltimore since they blasted the Cincinnati Bengals 44-13 to open the 2012 regular season.
With a 7-2 record, the Ravens lead the AFC North with a 7-2 record. The Pittsburgh Steelers, who play tonight and are expected to win, will have a 6-3 record, and will remain a game behind the Ravens. The two teams play Sunday night on national TV, with first place in the division on the line. Again. It seems whenever these two teams play, something other than bragging rights is always on the line.
Regardless of who wins next week, one thing is for sure. The Ravens are absolutely for real. They are not in trouble as the critics say, since losing both LB Ray Lewis and CB Lardarius Webb. This team, when clicking, is among the best in the league and can play with, compete and beat any other team in the league.
Winning on the road in the NFL is tough, regardless of the so-called level of competition. Look around the league and you will find teams who play a lot better at home than they do on the road. The Ravens might stand out more so with this trend, but they are still 7-2 and one of only six teams in the conference with a winning record.
They appear well on their way to a fifth straight playoff appearance, the only team in the league that can currently make that statement. The Pittsburgh Steelers will surely be favored when the Ravens head there next weekend and deservedly so. However,the Ravens swept Pittsburgh last year and trust me, the Steelers are as much concerned about Baltimore as vice versa.
The Ravens sent a very clear message to the rest of the league as well as their critics. They are a force to be reckoned with and will not be laying down for any team regardless of their inconsistencies. They are absolutely a Super Bowl contender and they will make life miserable for any team that thinks and prepares otherwise.