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Power Rankings: Without an identity, Ravens could falter in homestretch


Look through the top 10 teams in the CBSSports.com Power Rankings and show me one that doesn't have major issues.

Also, show me one that hasn't had those issues show up in the past month.

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That's the problem as we head to the final month of the season: They all have them, which is why it's hard to pick a dominant team.

Houston, the top team in our CBSSports.com Power Rankings, has lost once, but it also has had some major issues on defense. The Falcons, the second team, have won a lot of close games. New England? Defensive issues.

On and on it goes.

But the team in the top 10 that should have the biggest concern right now is the Baltimore Ravens.

Who are they? What is their identity?

We know they are no longer that ass-beating team that had you shaking in your boots as soon as you lined up to play them. But in that place, we expected another identity to emerge.

Was this Joe Flacco's time? Clearly it's not. Just look at his stat line from the Ravens' loss to the Steelers on Sunday. He passed for 188 yards, threw a pick and lost a critical fumble.

Is this Ray Rice's team? How can it be? He had 12 carries Sunday.

The Ravens are a fourth-and-29 conversion away from being on a two-game losing streak heading into a murderous four-game closing stretch. Is there a chance they miss the playoffs? Now comes news that Terrell Suggs, who missed the early part of the season coming back from a torn Achilles tendon, has a torn biceps tendon. That could shelve him for the season -- or not.

I don't think the Ravens miss the playoffs, but, in my mind, they are not as good as their 9-3 record.

Then again, who is as good as their record?

The Texans? The Falcons? The Patriots? The 49ers?

Can't say that about any of them, right? That's the greatness of December. The team that cleans up their issues the best just might be the team that wins it all.


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.

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