For the second straight postseason, Joe Flacco outperformed a future Hall of Fame quarterback. It’s how he rolls. So it’s no surprise that the Baltimore Ravens are returning to Foxboro for the AFC championship game a year after dramatically falling to the Patriots 23-20.

Perhaps it’s just me, but during Ravens games I see far more tweets from fans justifying Flacco’s performance than criticizing it, so much so that the supporters have become more annoying than the naysayers. Maybe I don’t follow anyone stupid enough to think that Tyrod Taylor should have taken over as the team’s starting quarterback in week 14 — although I also don’t listen to local sports talk radio — or maybe the supporters constantly feel the need to highlight every good pass the Ravens’ quarterback completes.

Either way, the coverage of Joe Flacco’s play is too much for me to handle. If you point out an overthrow, you’re labeled as a “hater”, but if you ignore a poor downfield pass, you become an “apologist”. I didn’t realize there were only two sides I could be on in this argument.

Joe Flacco leads Ravens to 38-35 victory over BroncosImage Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Then there’s the national’s media’s take on Flacco. Ever since proclaiming he’s an “elite” quarterback, ESPN puts together a graphic or highlight package that shows why he is/isn’t a top quarterback. They Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith debate it, it’s put in a SportsNation poll and the rest of the country judges Baltimore’s QB on a meaningless comment he made to a reporter who asked him a trap question back in August.

Personally, I’m on the “I believe Joe Flacco can lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl, but I don’t want to pay him top five money if he doesn’t perform like a top five quarterback” side. And I think I’m the only one standing in the middle of this Flacco War. Folks on both sides are firing muskets (in the form of twitter insults) at me. But I can’t comprehend why they just don’t analyze Flacco the same way I do.

I refuse to apologize for any player’s performance. I’m a Baltimore fan, but if any athlete makes a bad play, I’ll acknowledge it. With that, I also praise the good ones. Flacco completed a tremendous game saving 70 yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones with 31 seconds remaining in regulation. But he also missed Torrey Smith downfield twice.

Am I an apologist or a naysayer?

Neither. I just want the Ravens to make a smart business decision with their franchise quarterback. I want Flacco in purple for the rest of his career and I want that to happen with an affordable contract.

Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun reports that with the Ravens tight salary cap situation they’ll plan to “ramp up talks” after the season with Flacco to avoid franchise tagging him. Ray Lewis retiring will save them $4.35 million, but they will “scramble to try to retain” their free agents.

Joe Linta, Flacco’s agent, recently told Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network that Flacco is “a top five guy, if not better.” That quote doesn’t make it seem like the negotiations will be easy for Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens.

Flacco has wracked up 613 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions so far this postseason. He’s recorded a 120.0 quarterback rating and the average length of his touchdowns is 39.8 yards. In the postseason, he is indeed performing better than a top five quarterback.

But can the Ravens afford to pay him like one and still put together a competitive roster around him?

Zach Wilt is the Founding Editor of Baltimore Sports Report and host of the BSR Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @zamwi or send him an email: