Baltimore's enigmatic ways

The Ravens' severe inconsistencies suggest the Super Bowl is a long shot

Updated: November 15, 2011, 1:59 PM ET
By Vince Verhei | Football Outsiders
FlaccoJim Brown/US PressLike his team, Joe Flacco's performance has been a week-to-week mystery.

Through nine games, the Baltimore Ravens have won twice as often as they have lost. They have scored 73 more points than they have allowed, the second-best rate in the AFC. They have wins against playoff contenders like the Houston Texans, New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers (twice). By any measure, the Ravens are a good football team.

However, Baltimore is also unreliable, losing games to clearly inferior foes like the Jacksonville Jaguars and, on Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks. The 22-17 defeat in Seattle encapsulated the Baltimore season: This team has a tendency to disappear sometimes, especially on offense, and it also fields some of the worst special teams units in the NFL.

How schizophrenic have the Ravens been this season? The teams they've beaten have a combined record of 31-26, a .544 winning percentage. That's significantly better than the record of the teams they've lost to (11-16, .407).

So what does it all mean, and are the Ravens on the elite list of Super Bowl contenders?