This is the part of this article where I will be either dismissed as a "hater," denounced as an affront to writers everywhere or a little bit of both.
After all, how could the reigning Super Bowl champions possibly miss the playoffs? Like something like that has ever happened.
Well, it sort of did. To the New York Giants. Last year.
Make no mistake, you can't take anything away from what the Baltimore Ravens did in the playoffs last year. Their postseason run was one of the most remarkable in recent memory, and it made Joe Flacco a whole bunch of money.
You also can't take anything away from the job Ozzie Newsome did in the offseason given all the veteran personnel they lost.
Replacing Paul Kruger with Elvis "what's a fax machine?" Dumervil was a huge coup, and in selecting Arthur Brown and Matt Elam in last month's draft, Newsome acquired two immediate starters for the team.
However, Brown has awfully big shoes to fill replacing Ray Lewis at linebacker, and while Elam may actually be an upgrade on Bernard Pollard (who couldn't cover a bed with a sheet) at strong safety, the same can't be said for Michael Huff, who replaces Ed Reed.
I get that Reed's old, but folks...Michael Huff ain't no Ed Reed. Huff has finished inside the top 25 safeties in the NFL in Pro Football Focus' rankings all of once. That's the same number of times that Reed finished outside the top 12, and their rankings don't even go back far enough to judge Reed in his prime.
It's not just the players that Reed and Lewis were, either. They were the heart and soul of that defense for years. Lewis may have been a shell of his former self when he returned to action late last year, but the emotional lift he provided was a big part of Baltimore's playoff run.
Another big part of that playoff run is also gone, and it's the loss of Anquan Boldin that's the real killer.
Boldin may not be the wide receiver he once was, but he was still Joe Flacco's "go-to" guy. It was Boldin that Flacco looked for when he was in trouble. It was Boldin that made tough catch after tough catch in the playoffs.
Not only is Boldin now in San Francisco, but the team didn't do anything to replace him. If you think Jacoby Jones is the answer to that particular problem, then I have a nice bridge I'd like to sell you.
All this isn't to say that the Ravens will miss the playoffs altogether, but with a Lombardi trophy comes higher expectations.
Those expectations of a return to the Super Bowl aren't going to be met.