According to the statisticians, the Baltimore Ravens entered yesterday evening’s regular season finale with roughly a 97 percent chance of reaching the postseason. Facing a weaker divisional opponent in the Cincinnati Bengals that they had already beaten once this year, all they needed to do was beat them to claim the fifth seed in the AFC.
Failing that, they merely needed to count on the Jacksonville Jaguars, locked into the third seed, to defeat the Tennessee Titans, who had been in something of a freefall since heading into their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers with a 6-3 record.
Failing that, they needed the Miami Dolphins to pull out a victory over the Buffalo Bills, who after success early in the season, had become, at best, an inconsistent team, and had a mid-season freefall of their own.
The Ravens could have had any two of these things occur and still reach the postseason. None of them did. Baltimore, therefore, will not be a participant in the 2017 postseason, something that has grown to become a pattern for the organization over the span of the past half-decade.
While the Ravens were able to claim their second Super Bowl title in the history of the organization at the end of the 2012 season, prompting them to give quarterback Joe Flacco a substantial new contract that briefly made him the highest-paid quarterback in the league, the former first-round pick has hardly played like an elite player since then.
In fact, he has only led his team to the postseason in now one of the past five seasons, the lone exception being in 2014. That season, the Ravens, Bengals and Steelers all reached the playoffs. Pittsburgh hosted the Ravens in the Wildcard Round and lost, but Baltimore went on to lose in the following round.
Flacco was drafted in 2008, during the first season under new head coach John Harbaugh. The pair reached the postseason in each of their first five seasons together, culminating in a Super Bowl victory. In that span, they reached at least the Divisional Round each time, and three times reached the AFC Championship game.
In spite of all of their early success, the Ravens have only won the AFC North twice during the Flacco-Harbaugh era (and four times overall in their 22-year existence; obviously including the AFC Central pre-2002).
Since 2013, Flacco has been a 63-percent passer averaging just 6.5 yards per attempt. He has thrown 98 touchdowns versus 74 interceptions with a quarterback rating south of 85. The Ravens as a team have posted only two winning records in that span, with one double-digit-win season. They have gone 40-40 during that time.