Every year there is a break out team in the NFL, one that will go the first eight games without a loss. The talking heads begin to discuss the potential undefeated season. We’ve seen it forever, whether in New England, Indianapolis or even Denver recently. But this season the National Football League has been littered with average teams. Who is the Goliath that the other 31 teams aim to take down?
At 4-1, the Ravens may very well be that team that I discussed above. Though they haven’t been able to get to where they are in as sexy of a way as teams in recent past have, they have still defeated the Jets and Steelers on the road, two of the best teams in the league.
But, Baltimore is quietly getting it done because of a loss on the road against Cincinnati in which they only scored 10 points and narrow defeats of the Jets, Steelers and even the Browns.
The reason the Ravens may be the NFL’s elite team though probably isn’t because of the success they’ve had this season, but the lackluster performances for other potential powerhouses. No team is undefeated and 4-1 takes first place in the AFC East and North as well as the NFC North and South. The other three 4-1 teams are the Jets, Bears and Falcons, two of whom are very unlikely candidates for an elite team this season. New York could really be the only other 4-1 team worth arguing, but their road wins consist of games against Miami and Buffalo while they have defeated New England and Minnesota in the comfy confines of New Meadowlands Stadium.
The other potential elites would be the Pittsburgh Steelers at 3-1, who have recorded all three of their wins without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Though no one predicted Pittsburgh to even be in the running without Roethlisberger, they have proven that they can get it done early in the season against Atlanta, Tennessee and Tampa Bay. Again though, the edge has to go to the Ravens for going into Heinz Field and defeating Pittsburgh, a tough task even without Roethlisberger.
Though this season has been different without a true top dog, the Ravens can definitely secure the role with a win on Sunday in Foxborough against the Patriots. The Pats obviously aren’t the power house offense that they were in the 2000s and their defense has aged quickly, but just like Pittsburgh it’s a tough place to win on the road and a challenge for Baltimore’s secondary. If Baltimore can leave New England 5-1 with road wins against the Jets, Steelers and Patriots there is no reason for them to not be in the conversation as the NFL’s elite. It’s their role to lose.