The reasons given would have been myriad. They dropped 4 of the last 5 games, the Broncos will crush them in Denver, and if not, then the Patriots will in Foxborough. Flacco isn't an elite quarterback and has had mixed results in the playoffs. If you were smart, you'd have money on the Patriots, Broncos, Niners, and Seahawks because they were the hottest teams in the NFL at the time.
But the Ravens compiled improbable win after improbable win on the backs of the offense, with Flacco's huge arm lobbing downfield to underrated receivers and the underperforming Baltimore defense getting a late season boost by legendary linebacker Ray Lewis' retirement announcement, providing just enough stops to win against the impressive Broncos, Patriots, and Niners' offenses.
That is what the average football fan knows about the Baltimore Ravens' season. More interested fans would know about Joe Flacco's contract negotiations and how his impending free agency prospects would hinge on his playoff performance. Well, when all was said and done, he came up big and won the Super Bowl with elite-QB play.
When the Ravens triumphed over the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII, perhaps nobody was more thrilled than Ray Lewis. But Flacco was a close second. And a close third is Joe Linta, Flacco's agent. Because that playoff run boosted Flacco's contract stock by a huge amount. Before the playoffs, the prevailing narrative on Joe Flacco's professional football career was that he was an average quarterback with an inaccurate cannon of an arm who was carried by the traditionally elite Baltimore defense.
If the Ravens had ended their playoff run in Denver, where everybody expected them to have lost, I would think that Flacco would be resigned to a 3 or 4 year deal with 21 to 28 million dollars in guaranteed money. For a comparison, Drew Brees, widely considered to be one of the top 4 quarterbacks in the NFL, recently signed a 5 year, 100 million dollar deal with 60 million of that sum guaranteed. After that playoff run, I expect him to fetch a much higher sum.
So here's for another round of predicting the outcome. Joe Flacco will either have a franchise tag placed on him (which pays him, in guaranteed money, the average of the top 5 non-guarnteed salaries at his position, for 1 year) or he inks a new contract worth 10 million average-per-season guaranteed payday. If I'm within 15% of the guaranteed amount, I'll consider this prediction vindicated. If not, it gets tossed onto the loss pile.
Predictions Outstanding: 4 (Marissa Meyer, Fisher v Texas, Michael Dell, this)
Predictions Vindicated: 1 (2012 Presidential election)
Predictions Erroneous: 1 (Romney Veepstakes)
P.S: A lesson to be learned from Joe Flacco is that you can be mediocre for most of your life and then if you string together a short series of impressive success, your peers and your friends will reevaluate your past much more favorably to account for what could very well be an incredible run of luck.