We know this is a tough sell. To ask a casual NFL fan to root for the Ravens is like asking someone in the 1970s to get behind the renegade Raiders, the league's self-proclaimed bad boys who frolicked their way to a title under Hall of Fame coach John Madden. 

They may not exactly be those Raiders, but the modern-day Ravens aren't exactly the NFL's Cinderella team heading into the playoffs. Known for their tough, hard-nosed style of play, the Ravens have rarely conjured positive emotion from anyone outside the Baltimore area. That dates to the Ravens' first great team, led by polarizing linebacker Ray Lewis. While champions, the 2000 Ravens didn't generate much love or national interest, similar to Baltimore's second championship team a decade ago. 

On the surface, Baltimore's current team doesn't really move the needle, either. In fact, the Ravens are arguably the most forgettable team in the playoffs after they ho-hummed their way to another playoff berth. But beyond their boring excellence and John Harbaugh's constant bickering with officials is a team with several compelling storylines.

Let's take a look at the three reasons to get behind Baltimore this postseason, starting with the quarterback who is still looking for validation. 

It's time Lamar Jackson gets his due

Lamar Jackson
BAL • QB • #8
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This is based on the assumption that Jackson returns from his knee injury this postseason. If he does, Jackson will likely not be close to full strength after missing the season's final four games. That being said, Jackson at 75% is better than most quarterbacks at full strength. 

MVP trophy aside, Jackson has been doubted at every turn since coming into the NFL. He was the last player selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft despite a dazzling college career that included a Heisman Trophy. He flourished as a rookie despite naysayers criticizing Baltimore's run-heavy offense. And despite winning league MVP the following year, Jackson's success was largely dismissed after he and his teammates fell short in the playoffs. 

Despite putting together another Pro Bowl season in 2021, Jackson entered the season without a long-term deal after he and the Ravens failed to agree on a new contract. Jackson's current injury has emboldened his critics who refuse to give him his due. Unfortunately, those critics will continue to have ammunition unless Jackson can have more playoff success. 

Postseason success for Jackson would not only validate his place as an elite quarterback, it would also help advance the historical standing of Black quarterbacks. Doug Williams, Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes are the only Black starting quarterbacks to win the Super Bowl. Jackson joining that list would have a profound impact that would last well beyond his career. 

A title for the NFL's gentle giant 

Fans love seeing a likable veteran finally getting to the top of the mountain at the tail end of his career. Like Andrew Whitworth did with the Rams last season, Calais Campbell will try to win a Super Bowl at the end of his highly-decorated career. 

Campbell, 36, has nearly reached the mountaintop twice. He reached the Super Bowl as a rookie with the Arizona Cardinals, but was defeated by Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. Campbell nearly led the Jaguars to the Super Bowl in 2017 but was on the short end of a Tom Brady-led comeback. Campbell has continued to enjoy success in Baltimore, but a Super Bowl win continues to elude him. 

The 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year, Campbell would surely love to add Super Bowl champion to his laundry list of achievements. If Baltimore is able to go on a Super Bowl run, there would surely be scores of fans who would flock to the Ravens' corner solely to see Campbell win his coveted ring. 

A win for old school football 

To watch a Ravens game is to take a step back in time to an era when defense and running defined football. In an era where 4,000-yard passers is the norm, it's refreshing to see a team continue to win largely by relying on methods that are considered old school. It's an ode to Lombardi's Packers, Noll's (early) Steelers, Madden's Raiders, Gibbs' Hogs and Johnson's Cowboys

Like those teams, the Ravens have a workhorse running back in J.K. Dobbins, whose remarkable story includes returning this season after sitting out the entire 2021 season and most of this season with injuries. Dobbins, who was a healthy scratch this past weekend, is a bruising, battering back who draws comparisons to Larry Csonka, Franco Harris, John Riggins and Emmitt Smith. Dobbins is hoping to join those backs as key cogs on a Super Bowl team. 

J.K. Dobbins
BAL • RB • #27
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They may not be the 2000 Ravens, but Baltimore's current defense is pretty dang good. It finished third in the league in points allowed this season and was fourth in the NFL in third-down efficiency. Despite its eye-raising success, only Campbell and cornerback Marlon Humphrey were named to the Pro Bowl. The defense's lack of individual accolades is likely a motivating factor heading into the playoffs. 

If the Ravens go on a run, it would be a reminder that physical football still has a place in today's NFL. That alone is reason enough to get behind Baltimore.