Only the New Orleans Saints (with a franchise record of 2-0), Baltimore Ravens (2-0), Houston Texans (2-0 after beating Detroit in 2020) and the Carolina Panthers (1-0) are undefeated in Thanksgiving games. New Orleans put their perfection on the line in 2021 when they host the Bills in the late game…
Born of unfortunate circumstances and one of the NFL’s most unfortunate teams of the modern era, the Baltimore Ravens have risen from bitter ashes (if you’ll permit the juxtaposing of clashing metaphors) to become, season for season, probably *the* most successful NFL franchise of all-time.
After having enjoyed decades of mostly successful football, Baltimore fandom was suddenly robbed of the beloved Colts due to the infamous “Midnight Run” move perpetrated by well-known asshole owner Robert Irsay. Among the very first to attempt the petulant blackmailing of a home market for a shiny new stadium, Irsay was also certainly the last to be able to physically move an NFL team without approval from his 1% peers.
In 1986, William Donald Schaefer earned the state’s Democratic Party nomination for governor. Having served as mayor of Baltimore while Irsay was still in town, Schaefer ran with the NFL’s return to the city a primary plank in the platform. Schaefer and the rest of Baltimore would have to wait until 1996, when someone on high in the NFL offices decided to make amends with the state of Maryland – while also temporarily screwing over Cleveland.
Reborn (awesomely) as the Baltimore Ravens, the ex-Cleveland Browns finally shrugged off the “chump” label with the turn of the century. In 2000, head coach Brian Billick worked some serious magic in his second season at the helm: That team closed the year with seven consecutive wins followed by three playoff wins and the Super Bowl title; the bar for the franchise was set.
History will certainly say for some time that the watershed year in Baltimore Ravens history, however, was 2008, a season which saw the debuts of head coach John Harbaugh and franchise quarterback Joe Flacco. Over their first seven seasons as a tandem, Harbaugh and Flacco got the Ravens into the playoffs six times and bagged another Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XLVII. Unfortunately, the legacy-based contract Flacco signed in 2015 appears to be taking its toll on the roster, i.e. Flacco taking in a high eight-figure salary kills the potential to sign several mid-salaried players for, likesay, the offensive line.
So Baltimore might face some lean times to close out the 10s, but NFLbets would be shocked if the rebound to contention happened quickly. After all, just check the record: Going into 2018, the Ravens franchise has run up the NFL’s seventh-best cumulative win-loss percentage (.541). If the post-Browns seasons of the 1990s are eliminated, that number jumps to .576, which would top the all-time table. In all, the Ravens have produced 10 playoff teams – all since 2000 – in 22 years of existence. That ratio is bested only by the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings, both of which last won the Super Bowl prior to the Ravens’ very existence…