This is a good old fashioned changing of the guard in the AFC North. I did not want to admit it, but it’s true. This is now the Ravens time in the AFC North.
Baltimore is a younger, healthier version of Pittsburgh – and a better team (gulp). For the last few seasons, the Ravens have come close, but just short of unseating the Steelers as kings of the AFC North. Last year’s breakthrough was one thing, but watching the Ravens beat the Steelers for a third straight time (on the road in prime time, no less) was another.
Every team in professional sports have to to go through that ONE TEAM in order to get to the promised land. In the NBA, the Detroit Pistons had to get through the Boston Celtics in the 80s. The Chicago Bulls had to get through the Pistons in the 90s. The San Antonio Spurs had to get through the Los Angeles Lakers (and vice-versa) last decade.
Seeing the Ravens threatening to pass the Steelers in the division reminds me of one of my two favorite all-time TV series:”The Wire” (“Married with Children” being the other).
For those of you familiar with “The Wire”, you all remember what happened in Season 3: the Avon Barksdale drug empire went down, leaving Marlo Stansfield and his crew to assume control of the corners in Baltimore. You see, Pittsburgh is Barksdale, the hardened old-school drug lord who was used to calling the shots in the streets and having everything to run through his organization. Baltimore is Stansfield, the hotshot up-and-comer that modeled itself after the big dog, while vowing to become a better version of Barksdale and his crew. And we all know how Season 3 – and the remainder of the series – played out.
I hate to say this as a Steeler fan, but with the way the Ravens are coming – bump that, they are already here – Pittsburgh has to keep up, namely by improving their drafts and staying healthy. Otherwise Pittsburgh will get passed by the way Barksdale did.