Well, looks like some are showing the respect Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens have earned. A playoff team 6 of the past 7 years, at least 1 win each of those years, 3 AFC Championship games, 1 ring, most playoff road wins, and the best playoff record amongst quarterbacks since Flacco's career started in 2008, the Ravens seem to overcome the odds every year and achieve more than the pundits expect.
One such analyst is Peter King, who seems to always be on the bandwagon of teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers and his hometown New England Patriots. In recent years, he has steadily seemed to display more and more respect for the Ravens. This year, that has culminated in the ultimate show of respect, something unexpected from anyone in Baltimore, and that regularly would earn a "homer" cry if done by a Ravens fan: Peter King listed the Baltimore Ravens number one in his June 1st Offseason Power Rankings. Clearly he is catching on to what we all know- John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco, above all else, are winners.
Here is what he had to say:
1. Baltimore. Why? I trust John Harbaugh to find answers in a league devoid of a truly great team. I trust the running game to take pressure off Joe Flacco until he develops chemistry with new receivers, and I trust Dean Pees to replace Haloti Ngata with a combination platter of front-seven changeups. This is a battle-tested team that had two 14-point playoff leads in Foxboro last January. I just think the Ravens will find a way.
Other AFC teams he expects to make the playoffs in order:
4. Kansas City (9-7). Two things must happen: making Justin Houston contractually happy and finding some answers in the passing game. I like most everything else about the Chiefs’ ability to play in January.
5. New England (12-4). I don’t care if Damon Huard plays the first four games. Pats will win 11. Or more.
8. Pittsburgh (11-5). Like Antonio Brown a lot. Like Ben Roethlisberger a lot. But this faith is subject heavily to the ascension of Keith Butler to defensive coordinator after 16 seasons as a defensive assistant below the coordinator level. Mike Tomlin is putting tremendous faith in Butler, who replaces Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau, to be a breath of fresh and productive air. Risky move, and early returns are good. But early returns come in shorts and T-shirts on the South Side of Pittsburgh, not on a cruel Thursday night in Foxboro.
9. Denver (12-4). The Ryan Clady injury shows what a house of cards this offensive line was. (Of course, any team can say losing the left tackle is a crippler, and it is.) But when your quarterback is 39 and cannot roll out and escape the rush, it’s triply important.
11. Indianapolis (11-5). Best team in the AFC South, which isn’t saying much. Still have no clue how the Colts will stop the best offenses in football. I bet Chuck Pagano doesn’t know either.
So it looks like some outside of Baltimore are slowly catching on to the high ceiling of our elite organization, from our Owner, Front Office, and Head Coach, to our scouts, franchise QB, and players. We draft well, develop well, and replace our own players and owners with expertise. King seems to have caught on. In recent times, pundits like Skip Bayless and Pete Prisco seem to also be showing more respect. I am not sure I like it- I prefer underdog status- but it was inevitable when you are regularly as successful as our Ravens are...