HARRIS: Ravens’ Super Bowl title reinforces status as model franchise

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ANALYSIS/OPINION:

A couple of weeks ago, we used this space to try and assess where the Baltimore Ravens Joe Flacco fit into the hierarchy of the NFL’s current quarterbacks.

Coming off perhaps the best playoff run of any quarterback ever, Flacco ought to have won over any doubters. No interceptions the entirety of the postseason? It is indeed grand to be Joe Flacco these days. His new contract should be a doozy. He’s clearly one of the best in the game.

Now, with the Ravens‘ second Super Bowl championship celebrated by Tuesday’s parade in Baltimore, it’s time to ask another hierarchy question: Where do the Ravens rank among recent champions? Are they a model franchise in the NFL? Are they the model franchise?

Yes. And no. Not yet anyway, though they are getting there quickly.

Eight teams, including the Redskins, have won more Super Bowl titles than the Ravens‘ two. Three other teams have also won two. (As an aside, only four current teams have never appeared in a Super Bowl — can you name them?)

The Ravens also won in 2001 (and also scored 34 points in that victory). Twelve years is a long time between titles, sure, but there are plenty of franchises that would sell their souls to win twice in any 12-year period.

The NFL has wanted parity for years and it is pretty close to it now. The Patriots won three Super Bowls in four years right after the Ravens‘ first victory but haven’t won one since 2005. They have lost twice and are probably the closest thing the sport has to a dynasty right now. But it is tough to call a team a dynasty when it hasn’t won the big one in a while. The Steelers and Giants have won two Super Bowls in between the Ravens‘ two titles.

Let’s face, the daggone things are hard to win. You need a nice combination of skill, with a little luck tossed in, to negotiate the playoff maze. Baltimore had to win in Denver, had to win in New England, just to get to the Super Bowl.

The Ravens‘ streak of five straight playoff appearances is the longest in the NFL. Only eight teams have made it at least two years in a row.

Assuming they get a deal done with Flacco (and they will, for tons of money), Baltimore is set up to keep that playoff streak going. Will it result in more Super Bowl championships? Who knows? The best team doesn’t always win. The Ravens‘ recent success, capped by this title, has to at least earn them a seat at the head table of top NFL franchises. The best? Maybe not. But if you asked 31 other general managers and 31 other coaches for an honest answer about whether they’d trade places with Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh right now, the guess is most all of them would say, “Yes.”

A few other football-related thoughts:

• No disrespect to the aforementioned Flacco, but they got the Super Bowl MVP wrong. Jacoby Jones deserved it. His catch-and-recovery for a touchdown in the first half was a thing of beauty and his kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half was breathtaking.

• Wednesday is national signing day, when recruits can actually sign their letters-of-intent. College football fans will be giddy with excitement over the new haul of talent. Here’s a hint: Don’t look at the big guys when trying to find the next crop of great quarterbacks. Flacco went to Delaware, which plays in the Football Championship Subdivision. The 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick went to Nevada. The Redskins’ RG3 went to Baylor, a downtrodden program when he arrived. Andrew Luck went to Stanford and took the Cardinal up a level. Russell Wilson went to N.C. State and Wisconsin. His future was thought to be in baseball.

• Who will win the 2014 Super Bowl? Just check the Redskins’ schedule. Washington has beaten the eventual Super Bowl champion the past three seasons (doing in the Giants twice in 2011). Throwing out the divisional opponents, Washington plays Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Kansas City and San Diego at home. It plays Green Bay, Minnesota, Atlanta, Denver and Oakland on the road. Pretty good crop to chose from, and the early call here is San Francisco.

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