Toward the end of the season, Baltimore looked far from a Super Bowl contender. The squad lost four of its last five and dropped from potential No. 1 seed to barely reaching the playoffs.
However, a few things have changed since that point.
Most importantly, Ray Lewis has returned to the field after missing almost three months with a triceps injury. He instantly improves not only the defense but the entire team.
In the first two playoff games, the veteran linebacker totaled 30 tackles, leading the team in each game. This pace over the course of the season would be 240 tackles, so he is playing well.
His addition has also helped his team hold two high-powered offenses in check. The Indianapolis Colts only scored nine points after averaging 22.3 during the year. Take away two special teams touchdowns, and the Denver Broncos offense only scored 21 points, well below the season average of 30.1 points per game.
Without Lewis for most of the year, the Ravens defense was only able to rank No. 12 in the league with 21.5 points allowed per game.
Besides his physical presence, the linebacker helps the team emotionally as well. Throughout his career, he has been a vocal leader, and he helps other players bring their best games when they are alongside of him.
Lewis also announced that he is retiring after the season, which has given even more motivation for the entire roster to win it all for him.
As much of an impact the future Hall of Fame linebacker has made on the last two weeks, he is not the only reason his team is winning.
Joe Flacco has done a great job of avoiding interceptions and giving his receivers a chance to make plays. He has thrown deep pass after deep pass in the last two weeks, and Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin have done their job on the other end.
The Ravens offense has the ability to beat either team deep and put points on the scoreboard and change the momentum of any game.
With defenses focusing on Ray Rice, the ability to play-action successfully is devastating.
If Baltimore's defense can continue to play the way it has over the last two games and the offense keeps getting big plays, it will be difficult for anyone to beat the Ravens.
In that case, the Ravens will be playing for a championship in Super Bowl XLVII.
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