Joe Flacco shows Ravens they couldn't do better at QB

Joe Flacco did his 50 Cent-thing during the 38-35 double-overtime win Saturday over the Denver Broncos -- he got money.

The question has followed the Baltimore Ravens quarterback all year: How much is the free-agent-to-be worth?

Flacco's regular-season numbers don't warrant elite cash, but he's the only quarterback in NFL history to reach the playoffs in his first five seasons, and this will be his third conference championship.

"He's so valuable," NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi said Sunday on "First on the Field." "How many quarterbacks could do what Joe Flacco did yesterday in terms of his ability to make throws up the field, his ability to lead this team, his ability to come from behind? Look, Joe Flacco's not perfect all season, but the answer is who could be better than Joe Flacco? That's what's going to force the Ravens to pay him and pay him heavily.

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"Now they know who he is. ... Now they know they can pay him and be comfortable. He got them to the conference championship game. To me, that's the mark of excellence."

This has been the point many missed all season. No, Flacco isn't Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning or Drew Brees. But Rodgers, Manning and Brees will sit at home this week. Flacco might not be a top-five quarterback, but he's in that next group, and he wins playoff games. Flacco stands tall in the pocket and has the arm to make every throw.

In a league where the majority of teams are searching for a franchise signal-caller, there's no way the Ravens will let Flacco walk over a couple of dollars.

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.