BALTIMORE, MD – No Pittsburgh Steelers, no problem for Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens, right?
Not so fast.
With the AFC North champion Baltimore Ravens set to play the AFC South champion Houston Texans, both teams—despite their regular-season accomplishments may be nothing more than beneficiaries of luck and circumstance.
For the Ravens—their arch-rival and nemesis—injury-riddled Pittsburgh would be upset by the Denver Broncos 29-23, thanks to Tim Tebow’s 80-yard touchdown on the first play of overtime, do not have to face the prospect of losing to the Steelers for the fourth time in the post-season.
For the Texans, they would run away with the AFC South—thanks in part to Indianapolis Colts quarterback, Peyton Manning suffering a neck injury.
Not to take anything away from either Baltimore or Houston, but what if Pittsburgh didn’t lose to Denver? What if Manning didn’t injure his neck?
Would either even be in the playoffs facing each other?
If there is one person who may have benefitted the most that is involved in the up-coming Texans-Ravens clash is quarterback Joe Flacco.
Flacco, the fourth-year quarterback out of Delaware has finally been given the tools to not only slay the Steelers but ultimately lead the Ravens to their second Super Bowl title.
Flacco would throw for 3,610 yards, throw 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions for a QB rating of 80.9
In an effort to help Flacco, Baltimore would draft speedy wide receiver Torrey Smith in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft and tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson in the third and fourth rounds of the 2010 NFL Draft respectfully.
Baltimore would also acquire Pro Bowl wideout Anquan Boldin from Arizona and Lee Evans from Buffalo and along with Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice, has a bevy of talent at the skill positions.
So is this the year that Flacco finally leads Baltimore to the Super Bowl?
If there was such a golden opportunity for the Ravens to go the Super bowl, this is it, due to playing at home in the Divisional round in Houston and their recent post-season success against the Patriots, Baltimore is the one team in the AFC that New England does not want to face due to their physicality.
While Flacco is a good quarterback, is he elite?
Does he have the mental toughness to be aggressive downfield in the post-season?
At 6’6 and 240 pounds, Flacco has the arm strength and physical makeup of an elite quarterback, but in terms of his mental make-up, he has shown a tendency to fold by throwing an ill-timed pass, taking a bad sack or simply making a bad decision.
Tomorrow’s game against Houston will be his first shot at staking his claim to elite status against one of the top defense in the league in Houston.
And if he succeeds, Flacco will face the top-seeded Patriots in Foxboro, and with all of the weapons at his disposal in Rice, Smith, Boldin, Evans and Dickson, Flacco and his apologists will have no more excuses if he comes up short again.
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