AFC North Record A 'Smudge' On Ravens' Resume


The Ravens have built a sterling resume over the last seven years, but the Ravens brass pinpointed an area for improvement.

Since Steve Bisciotti and Ozzie Newsome hired John Harbaugh as head coach in 2008, the Ravens have made six trips to the playoffs, won a Super Bowl and amassed a 72-40 record.

But they've won only two division crowns in that time, and that's an area where Bisciotti would like to see more success in the coming years.

"I would say that the only blemish on our resume right now as a group sitting up here is that we haven't won our division as much," Bisciotti said. "We have to beat Pittsburgh and Cincinnati more consistently, and we have to start claiming that AFC North title before we start looking forward to accomplishing greater things. That's a little bit of a smudge on our resume, and we're well aware of it."

Baltimore won the division in 2011 and 2012, but they've had to enter the playoffs as a wild-card team on their four other trips. That's mean the Ravens have had to get comfortable with life on the road during the postseason.

Over the last seven years, just two of the Ravens' 15 playoff games have been at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens have won seven road playoff games during that stretch, making quarterback Joe Flacco the winningest playoff quarterback on the road in NFL history.

"There's a reason why Joe Flacco has more away game wins in the playoffs than any other quarterback in history, because we keep sending his butt out there on the road," Bisciotti said. "Until we actually win more in our division and start claiming some home games, we're doing something that hasn't really been done, historically, in the NFL, and that's win on the road and win all six of those years – actually win a playoff game, most of them on the road."

Winning the AFC North is hardly an easy task, as it's been one of the best divisions in the NFL the last few years. The Ravens, Steelers, and Bengals all made the playoffs last year, making the AFC North the only division in the league with three playoff teams. That's the second time that's happened in the last four years.

Teams within the division are built in a similar fashion with physical players. Veteran wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. even noticed it in his first year with the Ravens, saying that the "AFC North is physical, downhill, blue-collar football."

The Ravens are equipped to play that kind of football – the front office looks for players who would be ideal fits in the AFC North – and the taking care of business in the division is top priority going into the 2015 season. 

"Ozzie spent years building a team that can beat your division," Bisciotti said. "When we took Jamal [Lewis], that's the first thing you [Ozzie] said to me when we were drafting Jamal. My first year as a part owner, it was, 'We need him to beat Pittsburgh and play in the AFC North.'

"We're aware of that. We need to focus, and we need to succeed at that a little more."

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