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5. For all the thrills of the last few weeks, it's not clear how much the Ravens have improved

The home crowd at M&T Bank Stadium just got its last look at this year's Ravens, no matter what happens next week. And it's fair to ask if they saw a fundamentally better team than what greeted them for the home opener against Cleveland. Though Torrey Smith managed a pretty good season, Marlon Brown emerged as a nice find and Dennis Pitta made it back from a frightening hip injury, Joe Flacco has never regained the rhythm he developed with his receivers during last year's playoffs. Between the much-criticized offensive line and Ray Rice's bad leg, the Ravens have never found their running game. They were an imbalanced team again Sunday, with Rice and Bernard Pierce combining for just 71 yards. On defense, the secondary is better, but the pass rush has made less impact as the season has gone on, especially against top quarterbacks. I just wonder if, when the team's decision makers review the season, they'll see a resilient crew that won thrilling, memorable games but never wiped away gaping flaws? Will they see a team primed to contend again in 2014 or one that requires another offseason of substantial tinkering? These weekly essays are supposed to tell you what we have learned. But with this year's Ravens, there's plenty we haven't.
Doug Kapustin, MCT
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