The story of the Ravens' season is inconsistency

November 17, 2011|By Matt Vensel

Depending on which week you catch them -- and sometimes which half or quarter you catch them -- the Ravens are either the best team in the AFC or one that might not even make it into the playoffs.

“The story of the season is going to written at the end,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday. “I’m not writing that story now. The story for us as a football team is this week. … All the other story lines, I would like to give you an answer, but I’m really not interested.  ... It’s not my job to have that answer for you.”

Nine games into the season, the only conclusion we can scribble down with a purple pen is that the Ravens had supremacy over the Pittsburgh Steelers, though they might meet again in the postseason.

I’m assuming the Ravens will get there, given the caliber of talent they have on both sides of the ball, but it is no sure thing. Nine teams in the AFC have three or four losses. No AFC team has fewer than three losses. The Ravens are 4-0 at home this season, but Cincinnati and San Francisco poses challenges in the next week.

I’m pretty sure the Ravens can do nothing to surprise me at this point. I could see them running the table and locking down the AFC’s No. 1 seed. And I wouldn’t be stunned if they somehow finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs. That’s how different the Ravens looked in the loss to Seattle than they did from the win in Pittsburgh.

"It's pretty typical in the NFL,” Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said Wednesday. “My first three years, it seems like we have had a point where we have felt like this every year. We're never running away with it at [9-0], 10-0. We feel like we can be there, and we felt like we can be there every year. We're just not."

Consistency is the story of the 2011 season. They might very well be the best team in the AFC right now, but for the first time in the Harbaugh era, they are losing games against lesser opponents, which probably explains why Harbaugh has been so frustrated this week when answering questions from reporters.

We saw the Ravens’ championship-caliber upside in wins over the Steelers, the New York Jets and the Houston Texans. But in the road losses against Tennessee, Jacksonville and Seattle, they didn’t look like a team that is capable of stringing three or four wins together when the playoffs roll around in January.

That story could change in the next seven weeks if Harbaugh and his staff make the right revisions.

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