Mark Viviano: The NFL Is Weak-To-Weak
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You can’t believe the Ravens lost to the lowly Seattle Seahawks and I can’t blame you for being stunned. Like everyone else (except Keyshawn Johnson) I expected the Ravens, flying high after the big win over the Steelers, to easily handle the previously 2-and-6 Seahawks.
Since week 3 of the season I’ve been touting the Ravens as a true Super Bowl contender and this loss doesn’t change my opinion.
Why not? The loss in Seattle is emblematic of the pig-pile parity of the NFL- a league that is set up so that all of the teams are very similar. There is very little margin of difference between the best teams and the worst, and the Ravens still rank as one of the best teams in the conference. And, as we’ve seen 3 times now this season, lesser teams like Tennessee, Jacksonville and Seattle can beat them. Disturbing? To an extent, yes. It’s at the very least bothersome to see a team play so well against the Steelers (twice), Jets and Texans, and so poorly against the aforementioned Titans, Jags and Seahawks.
Those 3 disappointing defeats have all occurred on the road and each featured critical turnovers by the Ravens. Yes, disturbing. I’ve been saying all season that I don’t see the Ravens losing a regular season home game this season and I still have no reason to alter that opinion. I believed they were setting themselves up for a home playoff run. But 3 bad losses can hinder that hope. And who in the AFC should Baltimore be most concerned about? I say it’s Pittsburgh. Even though the Ravens beat the Steelers twice, the rivals matchup very evenly.
The Steelers are the one team in the AFC with the talent and toughness to beat the Ravens. What’s bothersome about the matchup right now is that Pittsburgh has no “bad” losses, and they’re in first place with a bye week and a weak schedule ahead. The Ravens have a weak schedule ahead, too. But, as we know, it’s what I call a “weak to weak” league. So-called bad teams beat the so-called good teams every week. It’s frustrating to fans. But it’s exactly the model the league has built itself to be.
The Ravens are destined for another post-season battle with the Steelers. We’ll see if/how it plays out but it’s what the NFL is hoping for. Home field can be critical whenever they meet. Losing to Seattle may end up costing the Ravens in that regard down the road.