It’s now been a week since we dodged the impending doom predicted by the Mayan calendar, but if you had talked to many Ravens fans last weekend, their world was still on the verge of coming to an end.
Are the Ravens going to have a losing season?
But, they’re going to miss the playoffs, right?
Well, they certainly won’t have a home playoff game.
Yes. They will.
With their victory over the Giants last Sunday, the Ravens captured the AFC North title. But, even before the win, they already had secured their fifth consecutive postseason berth. So, why are so many fans distraught week in, week out?
It’s simple. The Ravens haven’t been living up to our lofty expectations and we, as fans, are some of the most ungrateful in pro football. We take the Ravens’ success completely for granted, and it’s time for that to change.
Ravens fans are like the spoiled brat on Chanukah who receives great presents for seven straight days but on the eighth night unwraps a dud and berates his parents for letting him down. We, too, don’t realize how good we have it.
There are a few sensible reasons why. The Ravens have come so close to greatness. They’ve always been a couple of games — and a few pivotal mistakes — away from making a Super Bowl appearance. And, yes, this year they’ve regressed as a unit. Joe Flacco is developing slower than the Solo Cup property, and a once-vaunted defense is riddled with injuries.
But, in spite of that, the Ravens still have earned a postseason berth. Things could be way worse. We could be fans of the Bills, Browns, Buccaneers, Jaguars, Raiders, Rams or Redskins. Those teams have not made the playoffs once in the same span that the Ravens have gone five times. (The Redskins can punch their ticket with a win Sunday.)
Also consider that while the Ravens have five playoff victories in the past four years, 14 teams (nearly half the NFL) have not earned a single playoff win in that same period.
Now, here comes to the difficult part. I admit it. I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to taking the Ravens’ success as a given.
I shout at the TV during games, sulk into the office on Mondays when the Ravens lose and call into local sports radio stations to express my dissatisfaction with the team.
Maybe it’s time I give all that up and start to appreciate that my hometown team is competitive every single year. The Ravens haven’t played a truly meaningless regular-season game since 2007 when Brian Billick was head coach, Kyle Boller was starting quarterback and George W. Bush was president.
Yes, it’s a fact, the Ravens have struggled this year, but all that matters is for them to find their groove at the right time. Hopefully, the defense can heal its many wounds, Flacco can regain the mojo he had earlier in the season, and the fans can find a way to get behind a team that’s brought them so much joy and excitement over the last four-plus seasons.
Once we’re in the playoffs, anything can happen. Let’s lighten up.