How Good Are Ravens? They Are What Their Record Says They Are


The Ravens are one of five remaining undefeated NFL teams with a 3-0 record, but people are trying to figure out just how good the Ravens really are.

Essentially, the question is: Are the Ravens legit?

"That's a fair question," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

"I think it's a better question for prognosticators, and writers and media. It's cool, it's good to have that question. It doesn't matter to us. We don't have to evaluate ourselves. We just have to get ready to play games."

Harbaugh did note a classic football quote, however.

"Bill Parcells says you are what your record says you are," he said. "Well, I was reminded of that last year by you guys quite frequently. So I'll remind you; it's a pretty good statement."

Last year, the Ravens lost nine of their 11 games by one possession (eight points or fewer), despite a massive amount of injuries to star players. As such, Baltimore was probably a better team than its record showed.

But that didn't matter. In the end, the Ravens had a 5-11 record and missed the postseason. The caveats didn't change that.

This year, the Ravens' wins have come with plenty of caveats and few style points. All three should have also come with a prescription for heart medicine.

The Ravens have won them by a total of 13 points in part because they made mistakes that nearly doomed them.

In Week 2, the Ravens came back from 20 points down to beat the Cleveland Browns. This Sunday in Jacksonville, Baltimore overcame a two-point deficit despite two interceptions in the final six minutes. But when it came down to the clutch moments, the Ravens gutted out a victory.

"That's what we have to take care of. We have to take care of business," Harbaugh said. "Evaluating ourselves is not something we need to do. We need to play better and better football."

Fans and pundits would give more credence to Baltimore's wins had they come against the cream of the NFL's crop. But the Ravens' opponents (Bills, Browns, Jaguars) are a collective 1-8 so far this season. Part of that, of course, is the Ravens' doing.

While those teams haven't fared particularly well against other competition, a closer look at their results may show they're not as bad as their record shows. The Bills blew out NFC favorite Arizona, 33-18, on Sunday. The Browns nearly knocked off the Dolphins in Miami, but fell in overtime.

It will be clearer just how good the Bills, Browns and Jaguars wins were as the season plays out. But, as of now, they aren't teams that many pundits and fans hold in the highest regard of competition. The first three victories won't say as much about the Ravens as a win against the Steelers, for example, would.

Even Harbaugh acknowledged that every team isn't on the same level.

"There's definitely a strata," he said. "I think you respect all competition equally. Every game is really hard to win in the National Football League."

While not every team can be regarded as equally challenging, it can be fool's gold to try to determine, especially so early in the season, who belongs in each strata. That's what pundits and fans are trying to sort out. So to determine the strength of a team's win is difficult in September.

"[They say,] 'You play up to the competition [or] you play down to the competition.' Well, that's because everybody's got this strata, and it's based on wins and losses," Harbaugh said.

"It was a good point. Where do we fit right now? That's kind of what people are trying to figure out. But really, we're going to fit where we fit based on how we handle these challenges."

The Ravens' level of competition, at least based on the records, will improve in the next two weeks at M&T Bank Stadium. Next up are the Oakland Raiders (2-1), followed by the Washington Redskins (1-2), who are coming off a big road win over the New York Giants.

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