After an unpredictable regular season, in which two-game win streaks were cause for celebration and road teams won nearly 50% of the time, picking the wild-card team that should go the furthest seems a bit like choosing the most nutritious imported beer. With apologies to the fast-finishing Bucs, injury-riddled 49ers, up-and-down Packers, and punchless Jets and Dolphins, we like the Ravens, struggling offense and all.
As it did last season in defiantly sweeping to the Super Bowl title (as a wild card, no less), Baltimore stumbled in the middle of the season. But middle linebacker Ray Lewis (52, above) and the defense have regained their swagger. The Ravens have been down this road before, and the only AFC team that should scare them, the Steelers, doesn't—Baltimore has won three straight in Pittsburgh. That, in this wacky year, is enough for us.