If we learned anything with the NFL rivalry games in Week 16 it’s that you can’t ever underestimate your opponent, regardless of record.
I have always said in analyzing NFL games…
Never underestimate the impact of a divisional or other traditional rivalry. You got Cowboys/Redskins, Chiefs/Raiders, Colts/Patriots or Jets/Dolphins to examine? You better know the history and understand one thing – if one of these teams is up and one is down, the team that is down is getting ready for the Super Bowl. Their Super Bowl. Such was the case this week with a rivalry of more recent vintage (but deep roots): the Baltimore Ravens vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers.
First off, get this.
The Ravens weren’t always the Ravens. They used to be the Cleveland Browns and spent the ‘70s, part of the ‘80s and the ‘90s getting the tar kicked out of them by the Steelers. Also understand that just 5 or 10 years ago, this was the fiercest rivalry in the NFL, being fought between two of the best teams in the NFL. Both teams have recent Super Bowl pedigrees (that means both starting QBs and at least part of the roster were part of the Super Bowl championship year or years).
This is not kid’s stuff.
So when you saw the 9-5 Steelers, who many people think are the best team in the AFC, who most people agree are certainly the most feared offense in the AFC and maybe the NFL, and the only AFC team besides New England with a proven Super Bowl QB (healthy at least) under center, you probably figured there was no way a horrific, injured beyond all recognition, 4-10, 11 point underdog, Baltimore Ravens team had any chance to win this game.
You were wrong.
Despite having 6th string (he joined the team 12 days ago) QB Ryan Mallett (his career passer rating is 62) under center (did I mention he was so bad the Texans cut him), the Ravens somehow, inexplicably came out and beat Pittsburgh 20-17, thus winning the Super Bowl. Their Super Bowl.
10 years from now, more than that even…
Ravens fans will presumably have plenty of success to reminisce over. Remember Ray Lewis? Remember Jamaal Lewis? Remember when we beat Frisco in that crazy Super Bowl where the lights went out? We will still remember that year when the Ravens had ALL those injuries and they were terrible and Pittsburgh was great and then the Ravens beat them. And they missed the playoffs. And it was awesome. THAT’s their Super Bowl.
Featured Image via NBC Sports