AFC Roundup: Ravens As the Underdog, Brady Apologizes to Reed, Flacco Approaching Elite Status?
For the next 1 1/2 weeks, look for the Baltimore Ravens to dominate AFC headlines. In their unlikely Super Bowl run, as well as their players and coach, this team is full of stories.
Currently, the team is a +3.5 with a 47.5 o/u to to win the Super Bowl and they’re fine with it. For the last two games, they were 9.5-point underdogs and still won. So, looking for another win with the odds against them is another reason to surprise everyone and arrive in New Orleans with a chip on their shoulder.
For the Ravens, they also like playing against teams from the west.
Since 2008 when coach John Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco joined the team, they have gone 13-3 against AFC and NFC West divisions teams. The Ravens have outscored them by an average 26.3-17.1 score and outgained them by almost 75 yards per game.
While the Ravens can win as underdogs, one question continues lurking: Is quarterback Joe Flacco elite? He outplayed New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady last week and in the week before, he was the last man standing against Denver Broncos Peyton Manning. Now that the playoffs are over, Flacco’s stats paint a pretty impressive picture.
And on a final postseason note, Brady apologized to Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed for his questionable slide and kick in Sunday’s game. Reed spoke about it on a Baltimore radio station, noting he accepted it and added, “Brady’s a great competitor, I love going against him, and I know where his heart is at for this game.”
While that’s nice for Reed, the league isn’t done with Brady’s kick and it is under investigation.
Reed’s teammate safety Bernard Pollard agrees it should be reviewed and has been vocal about it. He said on Monday to ESPN, “He knew what he was doing. So, I’m the type of player — it has to go both ways. It really does. It has to go both ways. Hopefully, the NFL will do something about it.”
But would the league really fine Tom Brady? Doubtful.
Is Flacco Elite?
In this year’s postseason, Flacco has eight touchdown passes and zero interceptions. This sets him up to either tie or break Joe Montana’s record for the most touchdown passes without throwing a pick in a single postseason, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In 1989, Montana threw 11 touchdowns without an interception.
Should Flacco achieve this, it may just get his critics to change their minds about him as he is usually on the fringe of conversation.
He already has one believer after last week’s game. Patriots safety Steve Gregory said, “He is one of the elite quarterbacks. I know he gets a lot of flack for possibly not being that type of guy. But he is.”
History is also on Flacco’s side. For every quarterback who completed the postseason by throwing a minimum of eight touchdowns without an interception has won the Super Bowl and the Super Bowl MVP.
Will this really be Flacco’s year? He is 5 to 2 to win the MVP award while San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick is 7 to 4.
He recently said, “I think it is just one of those things you dream of when you are a little kid. You watch [Joe] Montana and those guys light them up in the Super Bowl. So, to be here at this point is pretty special.”
Veterans See First-Time Super Bowl Visit
In addition to Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis playing his final game, many of his veteran teammates are playing in their first Super Bowl. Reed, guard Bobbie Williams, center Matt Birk, linebacker Terrell Suggs, full back Vonta Leach and Pollard sit on this list.
For Lewis, he is 6 to 1 for the MVP nod while Reed is 33 to 1.