After the shellacking — deflated footballs or not — the Patriots gave the Colts, it was clear the true AFC Championship was between New England and Baltimore in the Divisional Round. The Ravens held two 14-point leads but were unable to hold on in the end, losing 35-31. If the Ravens had won, you'd like to think their experience would have gone a long way against the Colts in the AFC Championship.
With that in mind, only two teams remain in the NFL right now — the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots. The remaining 30 teams are simply could've, should've and would've. However, the folks at Pro Football Focus and ESPN put together a project looking at these teams and how close they were from being true Super Bowl contenders.
The Ravens ranked second on the list, just behind the Cowboys. While the Cowboys were dubbed having the personnel to go toe-to-toe with the final two teams, with PFF and ESPN stating they were zero players away from being a true contender, the Ravens were just two players from being next-level.
It's an interesting breakdown, for sure, and it makes for some nice back-and-forth between the advanced stats gurus at PFF and the football analysts at ESPN.
For instance, PFF lists Pernell McPhee as elite, with Elvis Dumervil and Kelechi Osemele as good. Arguments can be made for Dumervil to move up to the elite category, since he was assuredly a factor in McPhee's success. And the same can go for Osemele, as he and Marshal Yanda were the best guard combo in the NFL.
Give the project a look. It will be a great way to pass the time on this slow Wednesday, especially for those still stuck in the frigid cold in the Mid-Atlantic to the Northeast.