Tom Brady's shot at Ravens comes back to haunt him

It remains to be seen whether Tom Brady's four-game suspension will help out the Baltimore Ravens in the long run.

For now, the Ravens can privately take satisfaction that football karma apparently exists.

After the Patriots' 35-31 win over the Ravens in an AFC divisional playoff game, Brady took offense to Baltimore's objections over the Patriots' creative substitutions that caused confusion over which players were eligible and ineligible receivers.

"Maybe those guys (have) got to study the rule book and figure it out," Brady said on Jan. 10.

Four months later, Brady is the one being harshly penalized by the NFL for breaking the rules. The NFL suspended him without pay for the first four games of the season for deflating balls in the AFC Championship Game, and Ravens fans on social media have been reveling since the announcement of the discipline.

The three most popular words used by Ravens fans on Twitter have been: karma, hypocrisy and irony.

The immediate reaction is that this is a lose-lose situation for the Ravens. Brady may have used under-inflated footballs to beat the Ravens in the playoffs, and the AFC North rival Steelers won't have to face Brady in the season opener because of the suspension. Pittsburgh's chances of winning significantly increased by avoiding Brady, who has a career 7-2 record (including playoffs) against the Steelers with 20 touchdowns and three interceptions.

When looking at the big picture, Brady's suspension could turn into an advantage for the Ravens. The AFC playoff picture certainly opens up with Brady missing one-quarter of the regular season. The Patriots have been one of the top two seeds for the last five years and gained a first-round bye.

In what could be another interesting twist, the Patriots might end up playing a postseason game in Baltimore this season. All four playoff meetings between the Ravens and Patriots have been played in New England.

If these two teams do meet this season, my guess is Terrell Suggs and the rest of his Ravens teammates will repeatedly bring up the rule book to Brady.