While the two lucky teams who actually made the Super Bowl, the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, prepare for the game Sunday, a recent analysis shows just how close the Ravens' roster was to carrying them that far.
ESPN and Pro Football Focus collaborated on a study that found the Ravens were among the closest teams, in terms of number of above-average players, to making the Super Bowl. The study found that Super Bowl teams have an average of 40 percent of above-average players among their top contributors, and the Ravens who finished with a 10-6 record, had just more than 36 percent of their players rated that highly.
The Dallas Cowboys had the requisite amount of players, while the Ravens, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles are all tied at two players away from a Super Bowl-caliber roster. That's not terrible company to be in.
It's a neat exercise by those involved, and features much more in-depth analysis than what can be provided here, but the positions that those two players could help in are clear. Four of the players rated as "average" by PFF are wide receivers, and another position of need, cornerback, is represented on the "average" list by Lardarius Webb.
The foursome of Steve Smith, Torrey Smith, Marlon Brown, and Kamar Aiken all performed well at wide receiver this year, but none graded out as above average. The Ravens' needs at cornerback, whether it's simply getting their players back healthy or adding new ones, are known.
It makes sense that the Ravens rated so well, given the overwhelming strengths both on their offensive line and the defensive front seven. While the skill-position players, save for running back Justin Forsett, had up-and-down seasons on both sides of the ball, the Ravens' offensive and defensive fronts were consistently good all season.
Either way, it just goes to show the quality across the roster, and just how close the Ravens, who lost by four points to the eventual AFC champion, were to the Super Bowl.