At the beginning of the season, NFL Network analyst Jamie Dukes predicted that the Ravens and San Francisco 49ers would meet in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans in February.
While his selection of the 49ers – currently 9-3-1 and the No. 2 seed in the NFC – looks strong, the 9-4 Ravens have dropped two winnable games, fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, and may be forced to play the 10-3 Denver Broncos this Sunday without their two top three inside linebackers and the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year in outside linebacker Terrell Suggs.
Still, Dukes, a former Atlanta Falcons center, is not budging from his initial pick of the Ravens.
“There are other teams that have surpassed them, but I still see them having the opportunity to go,” he said. “You just have to get into the tournament. That’s where people get all confused and mixed up. Just get into the tournament, and then anything can happen. Baltimore is one of those teams that knows what to do because they’ve been there. You have guys like [inside linebacker] Ray [Lewis] who’s been there and leaders who understand the level of intensity that you have to have. What you saw last night on Monday Night Football was a classic example of a team that hasn’t been there [in the Houston Texans] against a team that is already in playoff mode [in the New England Patriots]. They showed the upstarts that this is what the big boy pants look like. Hopefully, the Texans learned that lesson. You have to go through a whole other level, and the big-boy franchises – the Steelers, the Patriots, the Ravens – know what level you’ve got to get to. The Ravens have just unfortunately had the Steelers in their way from time to time.”