The Baltimore Ravens seemed to be the dominant force everyone had been waiting for all season after dominating Jacksonville, San Francisco, and Miami in consecutive weeks. Despite the hiccup against Pittsburgh (minus Lamar Jackson) on Saturday evening, Baltimore is considered by many as the favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. However, due to previous postseason failures, there is still hesitancy in fully trusting the Ravens.
Since 2018, the Ravens have only achieved one postseason victory, the only playoff win in Jackson’s career. In fact, the franchise has only managed one more postseason win since lifting its second Lombardi Trophy over a decade ago. Despite their consistent presence in the playoffs under head coach John Harbaugh over the last 10 years, the Ravens have not had much success in the postseason.
Baltimore remained under the radar for a while this season, with most sports talk shows outside of Maryland focused on discussing teams like the Dolphins, Bills, and Chiefs. While these are all good teams in their own right, with Kansas City being the defending champion, the consistently stable Ravens team did not receive as much attention from most NFL experts.
Baltimore dominated quietly, but even as they ascended, Harbaugh’s team still remained in the shadow of teams like the 49ers, Cowboys, and Eagles. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that Baltimore proved itself by defeating the majority favorite team (up to that point) in their own stadium in San Francisco.
When it comes to winning away games, the Ravens were the best this year with a record of 7-1. Baltimore also has the best points differential in the league (+203), ranking first in points allowed on defense and fourth in points scored on offense. The Ravens are arguably the most balanced team in the NFL. The second loss to the Steelers in Week 18 wasn’t a good look, but giving their superstar quarterback a break wasn’t the end of the world.
After securing home-field advantage, Coach Harbaugh made the decision to give Jackson a break. Looking back at Jackson’s history of missing games towards the end of the season in recent years, it seems like the wise choice at the moment. The last time the Ravens finished the regular season at the top of the AFC, they entered the Divisional Round and lost to the Titans 28-12.
That was a game where Jackson threw the ball 59 times during the entire competition. Although Jackson was only in his second year as a professional, he had just come off an MVP campaign—so it was shocking to see the Ravens struggle so much. This doesn’t mean the same fate awaits them this time, but they must keep it in mind. It’s up to the Ravens to dispel all doubts and prove to the world that they deserve to be the AFC favorite.