Hey Baltimore, stand up and give yourselves a round of applause. It’s not just Ray Lewis and Joe Flacco that deserve credit for the Ravens phenomenal success, but we — the hometown fans — do, too.
According to an ESPN poll of more than two dozen NFL players, general managers, scouts and football pundits, M & T Bank Stadium ranks as the toughest place to play in the NFL.
Does home field advantage really matter, you ask?
Darn straight it does.
From ESPN.com yesterday:
“The Ravens have the league's biggest differential between home and road winning percentage over the past decade: .771/.415/.356 difference. That home success is second only to the Patriots in that span. Baltimore also has the greatest point differential, home (plus-756) versus away (minus-77), in that time — a remarkable swing of 833.”
The Ravens themselves recognize the advantage, even if M & T has not been generally considered one of the league’s least hospitable destinations, like say, Green Bay, Denver or (boooo!) Pittsburgh.
"The Ravens are known for their great defense," center Matt Birk, who came from Minnesota to Baltimore four years, told ESPN. "When you couple that with a loud home stadium, that makes it tough on visiting offenses — especially in today's game with all the audibilizing that goes on.
The Ravens were perfect last year at home, and as ESPN notes, fifth-year head coach John Harbaugh has posted an incredible career record of 30-5 at home.
This Sunday, of course, the Dallas Cowboys ride into town. I say, let's send ‘em back to Texas with a hitch in their giddy-up and ringing in their ears.