OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens have reached the playoffs in two of the last three seasons by simply winning 10 games, but quarterback Joe Flacco believes the bar has been raised for this year's Ravens team.
“You might have some level of comfort as a fan if we’re on the verge of 10 wins, but I have a really tough time feeling good about that,” Flacco said in a recent conference call with season-ticket holders. “I think it’s [gotten us in the playoffs] most of the years for us, but we want a handful more. I think we have the team to do it too. So I’d be a little bit disappointed if that’s all we came away with.”
Teams used to only need to focus on getting to double-digit wins in order to make the postseason. The Ravens, who have reached the playoffs in six of the last seven years, won't be satisfied with simply qualifying for the postseason this year.
In February, owner Steve Bisciotti noted that the only blemish for the team recently is not winning the AFC North on a more regular basis. In coach John Harbaugh's seven seasons in Baltimore, the Ravens have won the AFC North title twice (2011 and 2012).
"There’s a reason why Joe Flacco has more away-game wins in the playoffs than any other quarterback in history, because we keep sending his butt out there on the road," Bisciotti said.
Since Flacco became the starting quarterback in 2008, the Ravens have played 12 of their 14 playoff games on the road. That's the result of clinching more wild-card berths than division titles.
What's the magic number of victories to win the division? In Harbaugh's seven seasons in Baltimore, the AFC North champion has captured 11 wins five times.
“I don’t think we can rely on only winning 10 games and getting in. I think you want to at least get to that 11 number,” Flacco said. “When you talk about winning the division, you really want to at least get to 12-4 in order to have that happen. And even at that, it usually comes down to the last two games. It always manages to come down to that regular-season game with playoff implications on the line.”
More wins means more division titles, and more division titles means an easier path to another Super Bowl title.