Ravens Can Be 'Dangerous' Playoffs Sleeper

The last time pundits said the Ravens would have an early playoffs exit, Baltimore won Super Bowl XLVII.

The Ravens limped into the 2012 playoffs with four losses in their final five games. They got hot as soon as the postseason began and ran the table.

Remember that before writing them off again.

The Ravens haven't played their best football the past three weeks. Their offense has struggled for large portions of games. They're banged up. Their secondary is still short-handed.

Those negatives aren't giving sixth-seeded Baltimore pause heading into the playoffs, however.

"I think [we] can be very dangerous," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

"We all know the history. It's a 0-0 tournament right now. We've been on the road plenty of times in the playoffs as a group. We're as dangerous as anybody else, at least. So, I'm excited to be coaching the Ravens in the playoffs, I can tell you that."

Over the past 12 years, there have been 24 playoff matchups between third-seeded and sixth-seeded playoff teams. The lower seed has won 11 of those 24 games, nearly posting a .500 record.

Last year, both No. 6 seeds in the AFC (San Diego) and NFC (New Orleans) won their wild-card matchups. In 2010, the sixth-seeded Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV.

The last time the Ravens were in the sixth seed, in 2009, they beat the Patriots in New England in the wild-card round before being knocked out in Indianapolis the next week.

"There's a reason that you put six teams from the AFC in the playoffs and six teams in the NFC," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "Over the course of a 16-game season, that's how you decide who has a chance to go win the Super Bowl. It's been done plenty of times.

"Anything can happen once you get into the playoffs. I'm not going to be surprised if, three weeks from now, we're sitting here and still playing."

Flacco wasn't celebrating just getting into the dance, however.

"The goal is not to make the playoffs," he said. "That's the first part. That has to happen in order to achieve your goal. That's really not the goal. I've been here through plenty of wins in the playoffs and then losses in the AFC championship game, losses in the division round and believe me, people aren't any happier just because you made the playoffs."

One difference between this postseason and 2012 is that the Ravens will have to get the job done entirely on the road as the sixth seed. As the AFC North division winner in 2012, Baltimore hosted the Colts to kick off their Super Bowl run.

Baltimore has played reasonably well on the road this year, compiling a 4-4 record including big victories in Miami and New Orleans.

"I think we're a [heck] of a team on the road," outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "Sometimes, that's the way you've got to go."

The Ravens' journey begins Saturday night in Heinz Field against the Steelers. They were blown out in Pittsburgh earlier this year as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw six touchdowns in a 43-23 Ravens loss.

The Steelers are the only team the Ravens beat this season that finished with a winning record. Baltimore notched a 26-6 victory over Pittsburgh in Week 3 at M&T Bank Stadium.

In 2012, the Ravens had already proven they could beat some of the AFC's best teams. They had regular-season victories over playoff teams New England and Cincinnati, as well as the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

Just before Suggs walked away from the press conference podium, he was asked whether the Ravens can win the Super Bowl.

"We'll see," he said. "We better."

Check out the best photos from M&T Bank Stadium as the Ravens battle the Browns in week 17 of the 2014 season.

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