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Why Ravens are pretenders

Despite the Ravens' gaudy 7-2 record, QB Joe Flacco's decision-making has been quite poor. Thomas Campbell/US Presswire

At the beginning of many NFL postseason campaigns, at least one team appears to have a better chance of reaching the Super Bowl than it actually does. For such a club, expectations are often raised by factors such as favorable schedules or lucky bounces, and when those factors disappear in the postseason, the team usually ends up heading home much earlier than anticipated.

We still have seven weeks of football left before the NFL postseason begins, but it is already becoming clear that the team most likely to fit the above description in this year's playoffs is the Baltimore Ravens.

That might seem like a hyperbolic statement since the Ravens were only a disputed call away from making it to the Super Bowl last year. Further, they sport a 7-2 mark that equals the third-best record in the NFL and are coming off a 55-20 thrashing of the Oakland Raiders that saw Baltimore set a team record for most points scored in a single game.

But as notable as those achievements are, the truth of the matter is that many factors indicate this year's Ravens squad is not playing at anywhere near a Super Bowl-caliber level.