The Ravens 5-2 record has a fraudulent feel to it. The team ranks 26th in total defense, last in the NFL in time of possession and they lead the league in penalties, hardly a recipe for a trip to New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII.
In the last 3 weeks the Chiefs and Cowboys ran the ball down their throat and Houston took them out to the Texas woodshed for 43-13 whoopin’.
We haven’t seen this kind of Ravens defense since the early years when they first staggered into town. That’s the bad news, the good news is they play in the AFC and in 2012 that stands for Awful Football Conference. Look around the AFC and you’ll see some good, a bunch of mediocre and a full plate of bad football. I don’t like the look of this Ravens team, but take a deep breath the Ravens have the second best record in the conference, time to recover from this sorry play and likely will contend.
The last two Super Bowl champs, Green Bay and the Giants were ordinary teams at this point in their championship years. It goes like this. Don’t screw it up too bad the first half of the season, be strong down the stretch in December and get fitted for a Super Bowl ring sometime in February. Remember somebody from the AFC has to go to the Super Bowl. Look around there’s not a whole lot out there. The Ravens are one of only 3 AFC teams above the .500 mark. Only three of 16 teams! Let’s sort this out.
Houston 6-1- Appear to be the class of the conference. Balance and special players on both sides of the ball
and the AFC’s best defensive player in J.J. Watt. Negatives, they lack post season experience, have a good but not great QB in Matt Schaub and they did give up 42 points at home 2 weeks ago to Green Bay.
New England 4-3- Last week’s OT win over the Jets kept them from being 3-4. Never count out the Belichick-Brady combo, my bet to win the East but suspect right now with losses to Arizona, Baltimore and Seattle.
Pittsburgh, Denver and San Diego are all a mediocre 3-3 but competent. Very un-like the Steelers to keep coughing up 4th quarter leads but that’s what they’ve done in road losses to Denver, Oakland and Tennessee. I suspect in mid-December Pittsburgh will be in the usual battle with the Ravens for the North title. It’ll be the Chargers and Broncos for the West. Does Peyton stay strong through the Rocky Mountain winter and will Philip Rivers start playing like the quality quarterback that he was?
The Jets, Dolphins, and Bengals I don’t think so. We might see some rare flashes of brilliance from these teams but not enough consistency. Is the AFC getting old? Brady, Manning and Roethlisberger have started 10 of the last 11 Super Bowls. They all have some tread left on the tire, but the quality of the teams they bring with them may not be NFC worthy.
Last year for the first time since the NFL went to 8 divisions in 2002 the NFC won the regular season series with the AFC, and the Giants put a cherry on it when they won the Super Bowl. This year the NFC is dominating the AFC winning 19 of 28 head to head games, that’s the biggest margin after 7 weeks since the start of 8-division play.
The AFC’s dominance at QB is over. Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, and rookie Robert Griffin III are NFC game changers.
Last year at this time the AFC had 9 teams with a winning record this year only 3. If you’re a Ravens fan that 5-2 record sure doesn’t feel right, but the good news is they play in the AFC and right now it doesn’t look like you have to be great to get the AFC Championship game. Good might be good enough.