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Going through the list of stories in today's Sun about the Ravens' 19-14 loss to Buffalo yesterday, I don't think too many stones were left unturned.

David Steele offered this unpalatable choice: Either the Ravens are underachievers or they are not really a team with superior talent. He comes to the latter conclusion.

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Over the next two weeks, as the Ravens lick their wounds from the embarrassment of losing to a team that had just one win and was starting a rookie quarterback, some fans and observers will start making the rationalizations that will provide some hope for the rest of the season.

Those rationalizations will go something like this: OK, the team is still 4-3 and just a half-step behind Pittsburgh for the AFC North lead. And sometime after the bye week, a fistful of Pro Bowl-caliber players will be returning from injury (Trevor Pryce, Steve McNair, Todd Heap, Jonathan Ogden, Chris McAlister). From such things, the embers of hope are fanned.

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But even if we accept all that in the best light possible for the Ravens' chances, this is the reality: Going into Game 8 against the Steelers, almost every weekend becomes a must win. Especially the two games against Pittsburgh. If the Ravens don't win the division outright or sweep the Steelers -- but somehow finish with nine or 10 wins, they have tie-breaker problems. This is a bad 4-3. Two losses already within the division. Three losses within the conference.

While we're all familiar with the string of tough teams left for the Ravens (Steelers, Patriots, Chargers, Colts, Seahawks and two teams that have already beaten them, Browns and Bengals), the Steelers have the Jets, Dolphins and Rams. Oh yeah, the Ravens have their game with winless Miami, too. Thank goodness for small favors. At this point, the Ravens need every break they can get -- and  have to take advantage of every one of them.

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