It'll take more than one win over the formerly 1-15 Miami Dolphins to get me to start looking at playoff contingencies, but it's fair to note that the landscape in the NFL has changed considerably over the past few weeks.

Thanks to an inordinate number of key injuries (Tom Brady and Tony Romo are the best examples), it's hard to find one of the preseason playoff picks that still seems like a solid bet to reach the Super Bowl:


The Patriots look like a shell of their former selves without Brady, and it looks like they may be without top defender Rodney Harrison for awhile after he went down during last night's victory over the Broncos.

The Cowboys are a fragile mix, with Romo down after getting hurt in the Cardinals loss (left), Adam "Pacman" Jones suspended again and Terrell Owens convinced he should be the offensive coordinator.

The defending champion Giants got smoked by the Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football last week and weren't terribly impressive this week against the 49ers.

The Colts dominated the Ravens last week, but got the same treatment from the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. The Chargers and Broncos aren't scaring anyone anymore either.

The point I'm trying to make is that nobody really knows how this season is going to shake out. The Ravens may not be positioned particularly well with the Steelers already two games up on them in the AFC North, but they've already proven they can compete with the two most legitimate teams in the conference -- the Steelers and Titans.

The conventional wisdom about the Ravens season holds that they will do okay against the remaining soft teams on their first-half schedule and then run into a buzz saw when all four NFC East teams show up on their schedule down the stretch. That's probably the way it's going to happen, but -- so far -- the only thing that has been predictable is the league's penchant for unpredictability.

It certainly won't surprise me if the Ravens end up winning seven games this year, but it also won't surprise me if they sneak into the playoffs. There is no super team in the AFC this season, so there's a pretty good chance that at least one team comes out from under the radar to force its way into the postseason picture.

Could it be the Ravens?

Why not?

Associated Press photo