So What Do We Make of the Ravens?

If I told you the Baltimore Ravens were one of the best teams in the NFL, you wouldn’t blink. If I told you one of the best teams in the NFL had just lost three straight games, you would call me an idiot. See the problem here?

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Three weeks ago, the Ravens had a crushing loss to the Patriots when Mark Clayton dropped a pass inside the Patriots 10-yardline that would have kept their game-winning drive alive. Still, they lost.

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Last week, they faced the Bengals and Cincinnati's improbable, unstoppable karma, and succumbed after a last-second touchdown pass from Carson Palmer to Chris Henry. After leading for the better part of the game and looking primed to take the lead in the AFC Central, they lost.

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And then today, in Minnesota, the Ravens battled back valiantly in the fourth, took the lead, only to fall when Brett Favre favre’d the Vikes to a favre-back and a 33-31 lead, and Ravens K Steven Hauschka flubbed what would have been a game-winning field goal. Another loss.

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A respectable loss, but still a loss. A thrilling loss, but still a loss. And It’s a bad sign for the Ravens, who otherwise have all the looks of a Super Bowl team. Still, just as the Broncos have ridden positive momentum to a 5-0 record, the reverse can happen when good teams lose games they should win. These types of losses have the potential to sabotage a team. Nobody likes losing, and moral victories don’t count in the NFL.

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And every year in the NFL, at least one good team improbably stumbles, stumbles some more, and eventually, misses the playoffs—all while everyone touts them as underrated and a Super Bowl threat. The San Diego Chargers have made this an art form. And while it’s not time for the Ravens to panic yet, it’s definitely something to keep an eye on.

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To win in the NFL, you have to be good, smart, and tough. But even if you have those qualities, a lot of close, tough losses can poison a locker room. Sometimes, you need to be lucky, too.

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