Tuesday, December 8, 2009

There Goes the Season

I’m usually not a pessimist, but after that performance that the Ravens just put on national television, it’s obvious. I cannot believe how that game turned out. I am so bitter right now, and to me, this season is over for the Ravens.

The Ravens are now 6-6, and if by some miracle they can put something together and win their last four and finish 10-6, they still need so much help. As much as it pains me to say it Baltimore, it’s over. I’ll still be attending the last two home games against the Lions and the Bears, but it’s just to show my support for the team for next year.

And the worst part about this season was the expectations that this city had for the Ravens, including myself. I mean, we lost in the AFC Championship for crying out loud. We should be well on our way back to there. Instead, we are playing for the slimmest of chances to sneak into the playoffs. I mean, we need the Jaguars, the Patriots, and the Broncos to lose a lot of games in the next four weeks. Well, at least two of the three of these teams. And that is only if we win out. It is disappointing to have the same record as the Dolphins and Jets. It’s hard to show my anger through these words without being completely inappropriate, but trust me: I have used all those words this evening.

When I was watching the game tonight, my one buddy started ripping on Joe Flacco. I believe his exact words were, “Why couldn’t we get a quarterback from a real college? He played against teams like Towson?” So obviously he lost hope in Flacco. I haven’t, but I think I have with our play calling. I mean, Flacco has the tools to be a quality quarterback in this league, but instead of progressing, he is quickly digressing in his development. And personally, I feel that they are trying to make him do too much. Once again, just like the Colts game, we had the ball first and goal on the one, and failed to score a touchdown, obviously as Flacco threw the pick in the end zone. Grant it, we did score on first and goal two possessions earlier, but do it again. RUN THE BALL THREE TIMES UP THE MIDDLE!!! It’s that simple. It you can’t score on first and goal from the one yard line in the NFL, you don’t deserve to be there. Instead, Flacco threw interceptions on back to back plays. And get the ball to Ray Rice. I like Willis McGahee, but it is indisputable that Rice is our go to back. Rice finished the game with 54 rushing yards and 17 receiving yards, and 21 of these yards came in garbage time after the game was already over.

But I’m done here. I just needed to vent and throw in my two cents after this poor performance. Hopefully the playoff gods are in our favor and everything happens just how we need it to, but I’m not banking on it. It’s time for me to go watch re-runs of Pawn Stars.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tough Monday Night Game in Lambeau

It's that time of year again. Every game counts. Every game is a must win. No difference this week as the Ravens travel to Green Bay to take on the Packers in historic Lambeau Field. It is not going to be an easy game.

Aaron Rodgers is the third highest rated quarterback in the entire NFL, with only Drew Brees and Brett Favre ahead of him. Yes, that is correct. He has a better rating than Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Phillip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger. He's good. He's damn good. He is an up and coming star in the NFL, and the Ravens have to try and stop him Monday night, in his house. And he has quite a few weapons to go to.

The pair of receivers that the Packers currently have is arguably among the most talented in the entire NFL. Donald Driver and Greg Jennings have combined this season for 100 catches and over 1,500 yards already, including eight touchdowns. These stats compete with some of the leagues' best. Let's take a quick look at some other big name receiving duos. Let's start off with Wes Welker and Randy Moss, combining for 151 catches, 1878 yards, and 12 touchdowns. That's pretty hard for any other duo to touch, especially when the Patriots throw it as much as they do. But let's look at some other names: Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald with 131 receptions, 1491 yards, and 11 scores; Marques Colston and Devery Henderson with 82 receptions, 1445 yards, and nine touchdowns; and finally, Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark (a tight end who acts like a receiver) with 153 catches, 1821 yards, and 14 touchdowns (so maybe they are the NFL's best combo). Anyway, the point is, the Ravens have their work cut out for them, obviously. They are facing a top-notch quarterback with top-notch receivers. The only good news is that the Ravens have played the Patriots and the Colts, and had chances to win both of those games had a play or two gone their way at the end of the game. Needless to say, the defense is going to have to show up again, and get to Rodgers, who is the most sacked quarterback in the NFL with 44 sacks.

With all with being said about the passing game, the Ravnes also have to look to stop their running game led by Ryan Grant, who is well on pace for over 1000 yards this season. He is seventh in the NFL in rushing with 890 yards, behind elite running backs who were all picked in the first round of fantasy drafts earlier this season. Grant most likely wasn't taken in the first round. Grant has also scored five touchdowns. And the Ravens, who used to be known for their stout running defense, are giving up 98 yards per game, and have allowed seven rushing touchdowns. The last time the Ravens were allowing this many yards a game was all the way back in 2002, when the Ravens finished 7-9.

With all that being said about the Ravens defense, the Ravens offense is going to have to show up as well, which means a healthy dose of Rice, Ray Rice. Even though the Packers defense has been playing somewhat well lately, it had been against the Lions and 49ers. The Packers also lost to the Buccaneers, so they aren't necessarily flawless. Joe Flacco finally had a decent performance against a good defense in the Steelers, throwing for 289 yards and one touchdown. He is going to have to do at least that, maybe more, to keep up with the Packers offense. Rice is going to have to get the ball at least 20-25 times, whether by handing him the ball or throwing it to him, and Todd Heap and Kelley Washington are going to have to help Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton, who are both coming off of impressive, seven reception games each.

I am really looking forward to this game Monday night, but it is going to be a tough one. I am going to be sitting on the edge of my seat, hoping that the Ravens can pull this one off. It is a must win. They know this. I heard Ray Lewis talk yesterday, and he said they went into the Steelers game as if it was a six game season. One down, five to go. I feel that they can win this, so my prediction this week is that they will edge out the Packers in a 30-24 contest, making a defensive stand at the end of the game that will send the city of Baltimore into an uproar as fans watch the game at their favorite local watering holes. I haven't been too good on my last two predictions as I said that the Ravens would beat both the Bengals and the Colts, so let's hope that this time I am correct.

I'll be sitting, watching nervously with you Baltimore. Let's not end this season yet.

The Ravens travel into historic Lambeau Field to take on the Packers in a must win game on Monday night.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Can the Saints or Colts Go 16-0?

The answer is yes, and it is going to happen. But probably just to the Saints. I mean, did you see them play on Monday night? I loved to watch the Patriots lose. And not only lose, but give up. It was great to see Bill Belichick and Tom Brady standing side by side with five minutes left, knowing that they just got embarrassed on national television.

Also, the Saints have quite an easy schedule, playing the Redskins, Falcons, Cowboys, Buccaneers, and Panthers. The only tough game that people may see in those five games is the Cowboys, but then when you hear that it is a primetime game in the Superdome, there is no question that the Saints won't take care of business. Example A: Monday Night Football against the Patriots three days ago. And the Saints have pressure to keep winning, because if they want home field advantage throughout the playoffs, they probably can't lose with the Vikings hot on their heels at 10-1. However, the Vikings could easily lose another game, but you never know. The Vikings look pretty good as well, and just barely lost to the Steelers.

As for the Colts, well, they don't have much to play for now. I mean, they have already clinched their division. And without even trying, they can easily win two of their last five games against the likes of the Jets and Bills. However, their other three games are against the Titans, the Jaguars, and the Broncos, who all have a shot at making the playoffs. And they are up by three games over the closest teams, which include the Bengals and Chargers. They should have no problem clinching home field, forcing the AFC Championship to go through Indianapolis, if they win in the playoffs. Soon, they will most likely bench Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, and Dallas Clark to ensure that they are healthy for the playoff run.

So can one of these teams go undefeated? Absolutely. Can both of them? Unlikely, but possible. The Saints just seemed to dominate the so-called team of the decade, and besides one bad half against the Dolphins in week seven, no one has given them much of a challenge. The Colts on the other hand have come from behind time and time again to pull off last minute victories. I mean, Peyton Manning is probably the best quarterback that I will ever see play this game. But this year, Drew Brees is playing out of his mind. And Brees has a ton of weapons, where Manning has two big guns, Wayne and Clark. I could name the 12 different players that Brees has thrown to this year, but just take my word for it. (I mean, Manning has thrown to 11 different receivers, but still, you haven't heard of any of them).

But we'll see in the next five weeks if either one of them can be the second team to finish the season 16-0.

Can either Peyton Manning or Drew Brees lead their team to a perfect 16-0 regular season?

Big Win Against Rival Steelers

I know I've been slacking a little on these posts, but it's been a pretty hectic week for me to say the least. But with all that has happened this past week, the highlight was when Billy Cundiff's field goal in overtime gave the Ravens a much-needed victory over the much hated Pittsburgh Steelers. I still smile as I think back to be leaning on my crutches in M&T Bank Stadium, watching hundreds of Steelers fans walk out of the stadium, trying to hide their "Terrible Towels". I had to sit through three games last year as the Steelers barely edged out the Ravens to sweep them and knock us out of the playoffs. Sunday night felt awesome. I feel like I had something to do with the victory, especially when I woke up Monday morning with a nice, hoarse voice after yelling so much the previous night.

However, even though the Ravens won, it wasn't the prettiest game, but they found a way to win. This is the mark of a good team. And I'm glad that for once this season, we were on the positive side of a close game. And I will give credit to where it is due.

Thank you Ray Rice for having a Pro Bowl caliber season; otherwise, we would be eliminated from the playoffs already.

Thank you Paul Kruger for finally making an impact on this team, and for making Dennis Dixon look like he has never started an NFL football games, even though it took until overtime for you to show up.

Thank you secondary, mainly Lardarius Webb and (I can't believe I am about to say his name) Chris Carr. They both played out of their minds to hold the Steelers wide receivers from absolutely destroying us.

And thank you Billy Cundiff for not being Steve Hauschka.

But it is a team game, and the Raven showed up and played a wonderful game. Now they can't loose again, at least in my opinion, if they want a chance to make it to the playoffs. There are too many teams bunched up right now, so the Ravens cannot afford a loss. The two toughest games we have are coming this Monday night, and then 20 days after that, as the Ravens travel to Green Bay and Pittsburgh. As long as they can pull these two off and take care of the Lions, Bears, and Raiders, I see no reason why the Ravens can't make another surge for the AFC Championship, and possibly their second Super Bowl appearance.

We all know what happened last time the Ravens made it to Super Sunday...