Archive for November, 2008

Ravens (7-4) @ Bengals (1-9-1)

November 28, 2008

After totally dismantling the Eagles last week, this week the Ravens get the other half of this season’s infamous tie game, the Cincy Bengals.  The Bengals have truly reverted to their “Bungle” ways of old in a big way in 2008, and could set a new record for franchise futility, which would be pretty impressive considering who we are talking about.  Some of the Bengals players could really care less about that, but others have way too much pride to go down without a fight, and those are the ones that worry us this week.  T.J. Houshmandzadeh.  Chad Ocho Cinco.   Dhani Jones.  All good players stuck in a terrible situation, who would love nothing more than to throw one big kink into the Ravens’ postseason plans.

From the moment Carson Palmer went out after nearly beating the New York Giants in Week 3, this Cincy team never really stood a chance.  Their backup quarterback, a guy out of Harvard named Ryan Fitzpatrick, is no Carson Palmer.  Fitzpatrick has been improving week by week, but he simply does not have the ability to get the ball into the hands of the Bengals only playmakers, their receivers, the way Palmer could.  He has thrown 6 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, been sacked 28 times in 7 games, and has lost 4 fumbles.  One area where he can be more dangerous than Palmer, though, is his ability to make plays with his legs.  Fitzpatrick has ran for 190 yards this season, averaging 6 yards per scramble.  Typically, a Ravens defense has no problem with such players (See: Vick, Michael), but we remember Chad Pennington moving the chains on scrambles in the Miami game, so this is something to watch out for.

After the clinic they put on last week, the Ravens secondary will really have their work cut out for them.  Houshmandzadeh, Ocho Cinco, and Chris Henry are as good a receiving corps as there is in the NFL.  In week 1, a 17-10 victory, they did a great job against them, holding them to 66 yards on 4 catches COMBINED.  The Ravens are without the services of Chris McAlister this time around though, so it will be up to Samari Rolle and Fabian Washington to step up their games.  Generating a good pass rush will also be critical, as Ocho Cinco and Houshmandzadeh will get open easily if given a few seconds.  On the ground, the Bengals are a non-threat.  Their starting running back is the now certifiable bust, Cedric Benson.  Benson put together one 100-yard game this season, in the Bengals sole win (over the Jacksonvile Jaguars) but has broke 50 yards just once in his other games this year.  The Ravens should have no problem making the Bengals 1-dimensional, a situation that should give Ryan Fitzpatrick purple nightmares as the game approaches.

Joe Flacco, who regained his turnover-free form last week, will face his last “easy” defense for a long time.  He looked a bit slow against the Eagles last week, especially early on, so this week is a chance for him to get one more warm-up under his belt before the defenses lining up across from him get really tough in the coming weeks.  He will be aided, as always, by his 3-headed rushing attack, who are licking their chops at the Bengals’ 24th-ranked run defense.  Who will step up this week?  It was Le’Ron McClain against Philly and Willis McGahee before him against Houston (obviously, none of them stepped up in New York), so perhaps it will be Ray Rice’s turn to shine again.

The injury report could be the Ravens’ most potent foe this week.  All 3 “starting” tackles, Willie Anderson, Adam Terry, and Jared Gaither, are banged up.  Gaither did not practice Thursday or Friday, while Anderson and Terry were limited.  Wide receivers Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton were also both limited on Friday, but should play.  Wide receiver Terrence Copper finally returned to practice this week, but still on a limited basis.  The Bengals have injury issues of their own, as 5 of the 11 defensive starters they put on the field in Baltimore in Week 1 are now on injured reserve.

The Ravens have not won in Cincinnati since 2004, and the Bengals have had 10 days to prepare for this game, as they last played a week ago Thursday in Pittsburgh, where they absorbed a 27-10 beating.  This may have been a “trap game” in years past, but this 2008 team has shown us that they have no problem beating up on lesser teams, which the Bengals certainly are.  The festivus talk will be continuing in full force after another purple beat-down.

Ravens 30 Bengals 10

Lookalikes! Bung-holes Edition

November 26, 2008

(Note:  To see past editions of “Lookalikes,” including Browns and Steelers versions, click here)

This week the Ravens travel to Cincinnati to take on the hapless 1-9-1 Bengals.  We’ll get to the preview later in the week, but first we thought it would be the perfect time for some Bung-hole lookalikes!

First up, Sin-city-natti’s #1 resident thug, Mr. Chris Henry.  Henry, who trails only Adam “Pac-Man” Jones (not to be confused with Adam “Nap Man” Jones) in arrests over the past several years, has perplexed us for years over just what he reminds us of more:

1. A cute lil siamese cat?

or, 2. A scary ass space alien (full disclosure: I am a total alien-phobe)

Next up, we have a bunch of Bengals that could pose as body doubles for actors.   Offensive lineman Scott Kooistra is best known for his role as Cal Naughton Jr., alongside Will Ferrell in “Talladega Nights.”

Anybody watch the show Prison Break on FOX back before it completely jumped the shark?  In seasons 1 and 2, Bengals defensive end Josh Mallard played the role of psychiatric ward inmate, “Haywire.”

Not so much?  Ok, here’s a better one.  How about new Bengals’ QB Ryan Fitzpatrick?  The first time I saw his photo way back in week 5 or whenever it was, I immediately thought of Emile Hirsch.

And finally, an oldie but a goodie of injured Bung-holes gunslinger Carson Palmer.

Happy Turkey Day, and Go Ravens!

Ravens 36 Eagles 7 (The I lost a bet Game) – By: Eagles Fan

November 24, 2008

(This post comes to us courtesy of a friend of mine who is an Eagles fan.  It was his idea to make the bet, so I’ll let him explain it to you.  For winning, though, I get to sit back and relax as he begrudgingly recaps yesterdays AWESOME game for ya.  I’ll even throw in my 2 cents here and there.  Enjoy.  I know I did.  – NM)

As a life long Eagles fan today is a sad day. After 10 years with one of the most solid Coach/QB tandems in the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles have reached a new low (You’re welcome).

Prior to Sunday’s matchup vs. the Ravens, this Eagles fan made a wager with the owner of this website; Nestminder as he is known to you. The wager was: the fan of the losing team between the Eagles and Ravens, would have to write the next blog about the winning team and how great they are.

Now, of course this means that as much as I would love to sit and bitch and moan about the infinity interceptions thrown by the Eagles QBs (Eagles QBs:  the best players on the Ravens!) or about how Andy Reid, once a coaching (hoagie-eating) legend in Philadelphia, has completely tarnished his reputation (as a coach – his reputation as a father is pretty solidified), I won’t be wasting your time as loyal BmoreBirdsNest readers today.

Yesterday, as much as I hate to admit it, was a show of domination by the Ravens defense (like a mofo).

Most games in the NFL are won on a couple plays. This game had that for sure.

The first half was completely dominated by defense on both sides. Neither team could run nor pass successfully. The best drive of the half came when the Eagles traveled down inside the Ravens 35, but young stud D-lineman  (actually linebacker, but whatever) Jarrett Johnson came from behind McNabb and not only knocked the ball free, but snagged it out of midair and returned the loose ball another 25 yards down field.

The lone successful offensive drive, which culminated in a Ravens TD, was set up by one of those “couple of plays” that NFL games are won on. An Ed Reed interception set up a 3rd down Touchdown pass from Joe “I used to love the Eagles (now I just make them my bitch)” Flacco. (I won’t spend the next 4 paragraphs complaining about how terrible the refs made this interception call.) (thanks.  time much better spent explaining how terrible the pass was?) Daniel Wilcox hauled in the pass from Flacco, which appeared to initially be a throw away through the back of the end zone, with one hand and successfully got both feet down to throw 6 points up on the board (great play Danny Boy!).

The score put the Ravens up 10-0 but led to the only mistake their defense made the whole game. The next play was a 100 yard kickoff return for the Eagles, the lone points they would score in the game. (Damn it to hell. F*&# Andy Reid) (ugh…wtf is up with our special teams?)

The Ravens took the 10-7 lead into the half, along with their less than 100 total yards allowed on Defense and their 3 turnovers, all at the hands of Donovan McNabb.

Then to everyone’s surprise, the Eagles came out with Kevin Kolb (Ravens fans immediately thought: “We miss Donovan!”) at QB to start the 3rd. While there were mixed reactions throughout the stadium, there were none by Ravens fans of course, as they were all licking their chops, but for Eagles Fans, this could only mean one of two things.

1. Kolb would be the next Joe Montana? (1,000,000:1 odds) or
2. Kolb would shit the bed at the hands of the Ravens killer defense. (1:47 odds)

Needless to say, it was the latter. Kolb came out quick with a couple first downs, but then it was an early Thanksgiving for a hungry Ravens D. The Eagles wouldn’t muster any progress, which soon led to a blocked punt by Ravens standout Jameel McClain… and the route was on.

After failing to convert the free kick kickoff to any points, the Eagles next possession led to an acrobatic interception by Samari Rolle, the 4th Eagles turnover of the game. The next Ravens drive was capped off with a FG to make the score 15-7.

Following another 3 and out by the Eagles and a phantom unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by “an Eagles fan” as the referee announced (what?  I must have missed that one.  But, AWESOME!), the Ravens came into a 3rd down conversion attempt of their own. And while the Ravens were only 5-17 on third downs on the day, this was the biggest conversion of the game, another one of those “couple of plays” that win a game for a team. A quick slant to a speedy Mark Clayton behind a blitzing Eagles defense sprang him for 53 yard touchdown and essentially put the game on ice.

But wait! Eagles fans fear not… the Eagles would not let this game slide away easily. As the Ravens went into prevent defense, Kolb drove the Eagles to a 1st and goal at the one. After failing to get in on a QB sneak, Kolb ran playaction on 2nd and goal and made a rookie mistake. Kolb rolled out to his right and threw back across his body to the left side of the endzone where Ed Reed stepped in front of his pass for his second interception of the game, and avoided tacklers all the way down field for 108 yard touchdown. The Longest T.A.I.N.T. in NFL history. (Whoa.  This play deserves much more than 2 sentences.  Hell, I may give it an entire post.  Mr. REEEEEEEED, who had been called out in the Baltimore Sun Sunday morning for going 8 games without an interception, tied for the longest such streak in his career, had a vintage Ed Reed day.  The first pick that he scooped up with his fingertips and nearly took to the house before an ill-advised lateral – hey, Ed Reed is Ed Reed; you take the great with the kinda silly – ended his non-INT streak.  Then, on the goalline throw from Kolb…Reed stepped in front of the intended target, and went ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT YARDS, breaking his own NFL record interception return TD of 106 yards.  And it wasn’t easy.  He juked about 3 iggles out of dey jocks, and stiff-armed Brian Westbrook for about 5 yards while somehow staying in bounds.  Are you serious?  I love you Ed Reed.)  

Congratulations Ravens fans!!! Living in the Baltimore Area, I have grown to know that this was simply a classic display of Ravens D which surprised no one. At least not this Eagles Fan. This was a great game handled by Flacco, a young QB who is quickly rising through the time tested ranks of the NFL, but the game ball goes to the Ravens Defense.

As mad as I can be at the Eagles, I’ve gotta blame the Ravens, first and foremost, for the loss. You should be proud Baltimore, you’ve got a solid team here. Just make sure you enjoy them while you can, as the last 10 years of my life spent rooting for the McNabb/Reid combo are sure to end soon…

P.S. Phillies 2008 World Series Champs (suckas) (I don’t think rubbing your good baseball team in our faces was part of the bet, a-hole.  I don’t blame you though – this tackle pretty much sums things up, as the Ravens bascially gave the Eagles one big wedgie all afternoon.)

Eagles (5-4-1) @ Ravens (6-4)

November 20, 2008

After playing 5 of their last 6 games on the road, and fresh off last week’s “Massacre at the Meadowlands,” the Ravens finally come back to B’More for some home cookin’ against the Philadelphia Eagles.  The Eagles may be one of the few teams in the NFL that have had a rougher week than the Ravens.  Not only did they manage only a tie against the lowly Cincinnati Bungles, but they have also had to deal with the media’s ridiculous obsession with the story about how nobody on the Eagles seemed to know that the game could even end in a tie.  You can read PLENTY about that elsewhere, so we won’t spend any more time on it here, other than to say the Eagles might be more than a little PO’ed about being the laughing stocks of the football world all week.  Luckily for us, the Ravens have their own issues to be angry about, so they should have no trouble matching the intensity out there.

These seem like 2 teams that are passing each other in opposite directions.  The Ravens feature a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback, both of whom have already surpassed all expectations of them coming into this season.  The Eagles, on the other hand, have a quarterback and a head coach who are both in their 10th seasons, and they currently find themselves in last place (by 0.5 game, thanks to that tie) in a division that they were expected to be near the top of.  They have even been described as the “superior bad team.”  Things can change quickly in the NFL, but as of today, the Ravens seem like a team on the rise, while the Eagles may be at the beginning stages of a bit of a decline as their gunslinger and head coach get older, and seemingly dumber, respectively.

We say Andy Reid seems to get dumber, because at the beginning of the decade, when the Eagles went to the NFC Championship Game four consecutive times, Reid seemed to always be pushing the right buttons.  This season, though, he has been endlessly scrutinized for his puzzling play-calling and decision making in general, with some even vehemently calling for his firing.  The Eagles have been particularly bad in short-yardage situations – last week in Cincy, for instance, they Eagles were only 3/18 on 3rd-down, and passed on EVERY SINGLE ONE.  Three of those were 3rd-and-1 plays!  Hey, Ravens – the Eagles are going to pass – a LOT!

It’s not like the Eagles are bad at passing, as evidenced by their 4th ranked passing offense.  Quarterback Donovan McNabb, his performance last week notwithstanding, has had a pretty good year, throwing 14 TDs to 8 INT for a passer rating of 84.7.  They have three very capable receivers in big man Hank Baskett, rookie speedster DeSean “Am I in the End Zone yet?” Jackson, and solid possession guy Kevin Curtis.  Running back Brian Westbrook is also the best in the league at catching balls out of the backfield.  The Ravens secondary will be tested, as the only passing offense they have faced all year with close to this potency was Indy, and we all know how that turned out.  Their ability to get pressure on McNabb, and bring him down so he can’t move around and make plays with his feet will be critical to slowing down Philly’s aerial assault.

Making the Eagles one dimensional will also go a long way in keeping them off the board.  After being gashed for over 200 yards last week, the Ravens’ defense, and particularly their front seven, should be done licking their wounds and ready to get after it again.  Westbrook is a slasher who does his best work in open space, a far cry from the between-the-tackles terror they saw last week in Brandon Jacobs.  Running backs like that don’t usually fare too well against the Ravens, who contain the Willie Parkers and LaDainian Tomlinsons of the world with relative ease.  Westbrook is also currently a bit hobbled by knee, ankle, and rib injuries, and even when healthy, Andy Reid has been inexplicably under-utilizing him.  The Eagles will gladly make themselves one-dimensional with just a little prodding, so again, the Ravens’ secondary will need to be on their game.

Defensively, the Eagles are no pushover.  They are tied with Pittsburgh for the most sacks in the league with 36, and defensive coordinator Jim Johnson never met a blitz he didn’t like.  Thirteen different players on Philly’s roster have recorded a sack, so the pressure will be coming at Joe Flacco from every angle.  Defensive End Darren Howard leads the team with 8, but 4th-year DE Trent Cole (6 sacks) is the one that draws the double teams.  The Ravens did a great job pass blocking against the Giants great rush, not allowing a sack until their final offensive snap.  However, there is some bad news to report on that front: the Ravens offensive tackle situation is a bit muddled, as Jared Gaither is likely out Sunday with a shoulder injury, and Willie Anderson is still bothered by a bum ankle.  The team resigned Chad Slaugher, who they had brought in during the preseason when the OL was still such a huge question mark.  It may be him or rookie Oneil Cousins being forced into action against one of the best pressure D’s in football.  Not good.

Want some more bad news?  We got ya covered.  Derrick Mason has been out of practice so far this week with that shoulder injury suffered against Houston, and his status is very up-in-the-air.  Without his #1 receiver, and security blanket, Mason, that blitzing Eagles’ D could look all the more dangerous to Mr. Flacco & Co.  Cam Cameron will have to really earn his money this week trying to find ways to keep the Eagles off his young QB, and the chains moving (see: Package, Suggs).

The Eagles are stout against the run as well, allowing less than 100 yards per game.  The Giants ran for 219 on them 2 weeks ago, but we don’t take much from that, because as we learned, the Giants run on everybody.  The Ravens’ three-headed backfield will need to rebound in a huge way from last week’s stinker, when Flacco led the team in rushing.  None of the three are on the injury report thus far, so as long as there is somebody up front to clear some holes, they need to be able to find them.

At least the intangibles should work in the Ravens’ favor this week.  The Ravens are 3-1 at home this season, while the Eagles are 2-2-1 on the road.  B’More allows under 11 ppg at M&T Bank, while the Eagles have given up 22 ppg on the road.  Their “non-losses” away from Philly have come to teams with a combined 6-23-1 record.  But wait, the Ravens home wins have come against teams with a combined 7-22-1 record.  So scratch that one.  Hmm…ok, heres one.  John Harbaugh was an assistant coach in Philly before coming to B’More, so he has some inside info.  Without looking up the numbers, Coaches seem to do pretty well against their former teams, right?  We’re going with yes.

A healthy Ravens team would have no trouble with the Eagles at home.  But the injuries, especially those to Gaither and Mason, give us pause.  If those two can’t go, they are at least worth a touchdown and some field position, so this one could end up a bit hairier than we would like.

Ravens 20 Eagles 17

Fan Preview: What to Expect with the Eagles in Town

November 19, 2008

As we all have heard through the media over our lifetime, our neighbors to the northeast are awfully prone to “jeering” over “cheering” at sporting events.  Well, unless things go terribly wrong for their opponents, like when they cheered when Michael Irvin broke his neck.  But generally speaking, Philly fans love to boo.  They boo santa, they boo our vice presidential candidates, and even the vice president-elect.

Needless to say, we know what to expect this weekend.  There will be a decent size Philly fan base at M&T, and as the Eagles, coming off one of the worst showings in history, enter the stadium, you can even expect the Eagles fans to boo their own as they come out of the tunnel.

Here at the Nest we’ve decided to help prepare you mentally for what you’re going to see on Sunday…

Eagles Fans Boo Donovan and Family

Eagles Fan boos Kitten

Eagles Fan boos cute Baby

Eagles Fan boos Disciples

We encourage those who have additional Eagles Fans pics to submit them… hopefully they’ll leave the game booing as well.

Giants 30 Ravens 10 (The RUN DEFENSE MISSED THE FLIGHT Game)

November 17, 2008

The defending World Champions proved way too much for the Ravens yesterday at the Meadowlands, humbling our purple birds 30-10.  The Ravens, while a team on the rise, showed that they are not there yet, getting simply outclassed by a better group of players.

The much hyped match-up of the Ravens #1 run defense vs. the Giants #1 rushing offense was just that – all hype.  Thanks to poor tackling and lack of containment, the Ravens D got absolutely embarrassed, allowing 207 rushing yards total, the most they had allowed since 1997.  In a strange quirk of stats, though, no Giants runner gained over 100 yards individually – Brandon Jacobs had 73, Derrick Ward 41, and Ahmad Bradshaw 96.  So, if you’re grasping for a silver lining from the game, at least we can still say that the Ravens consecutive games streak of not allowing a 100-yard runner is in tact…

On the back of Brandon “the juggernaut” Jacobs, the G-Men scored TDs on their first 3 possessions, staking a 20-0 lead midway through the 2nd quarter.  That proved too much for even this new look Ravens offense to overcome, especially since they couldn’t put together anything resembling a running game of their own.

The Ravens version of the 3-headed backfield, which we had thought would be able to match the Giants’ yard-for-yard, was bottled up from the start.  Case in point: when Joe Flacco is your leading rusher (57 yards), you probably are not going to win too many games.

Things actually started to look promising for a short time, though.  After the Giants went up 20-0, the Ravens scored the game’s next 10 points, and were driving near midfield with the chance to make it a one-score game going into the 4th quarter.  Unfortunately, Flacco’s short out pattern pass to Derrick Mason went through Mason’s hands, ricocheted off his helmet, and was intercepted by Giants CB Aaron Ross, who returned it 50 yards for the game sealing score.  At that point, the Ravens seemed to pretty much pack it in, opting for conservative play calling from there on out.  We’ll be interested to hear how the coaches defend what many fans may see as “giving up,” but we would speculate that it will sound a lot like this:  “We didn’t think it was a good idea to start trying to throw the ball all over the field, with our young QB and a team that can get after the passer like the Giants, and with the windy conditions, and them already having 2 interceptions, and blah, blah, blah…”

It will likely be very “coach-speaky,” but it seemed pretty obvious that the staff had already moved their thoughts on to next week’s game against Philadelphia once the score was 27-10.

It’s like this:

The Ravens are a good team.  We’re still convinced of that.

The New York Giants are a REALLY, REALLY good team.  We are skeptical about that no longer.

Moving on…

Since the San Diego chargers choked and couldn’t hold on to a late lead in Pittsburgh, the Ravens once again find themselves 1 game back in the AFC North.  On the bright side, 4 of the Ravens final 6 games are at home, so they are still in a very favorable position as the regular season enters its’ final weeks.  They failed miserably to announce themselves as contenders to the league, as they had hoped to do, but finishing the brutal 5-of-6 on the road stretch with a mark of 4-2 (4-0 against quarterbacks not named Manning) is nothing to be ashamed of.

The Eagles, fresh off a TIE of the Cincinnati Bengals, visit M&T Bank Stadium for the first time in 8 years this Sunday.  Let’s all put the stink of this game behind us quickly and hope our boys can regain their winning ways in front of a friendly crowd.

Ravens (6-3) @ Giants (8-1)

November 13, 2008

Our purple heroes head to the swamps of New Jersey this week to take on the defending Super Bowl Champs, the New York Football Giants.  The G-Men look like they are playing even better at this point than they were all of last season.  Worried?

Don’t be.

First off, as we pointed out the other day, New York has had trouble with their AFC opponents so far in 2008.  Secondly, yes, the Giants have an 8-1 record.  But just as people love to hate on the Ravens for winning 6 games “against nobody,” the Giants, aside for wins in Philly and Pittsburgh, haven’t exactly had an 85′ Bears-filled schedule (victories over Seattle, San Francisco, St. Louis, a Brad Johnson-led Dallas, and a Washington team that couldn’t get out of its own way).  The point isn’t to belittle their 8-1 resume; rather, it is to simply point out that beating an NFL team is beating an NFL team, and no win should be trivialized…well, unless its the Rams.  We can trivialize that.  And finally, the Ravens have everything to gain and not all that much to lose heading into this one.  They have already racked up 3 consecutive road wins, and another one at the Meadowlands would just be icing on the cake.  Worst case scenario:  they are only 1 game back of the division lead after Sunday, with 4 of their 6 remaining games in the friendly confines of Charm City.  The pressure is on the G-Men to defend their home turf, as they have the toughest schedule in the NFL down the stretch.

Did I say finally? Hmm, I feel like I’m forgetting something…Oh, of course!  That last point wasn’t the final reason not to worry – this is:

The Ravens will win this game.

Yup, here at the Nest we might be a bit drunk on the purple kool-aid, but we are going out on a limb and predicting a purple victory on Sunday.

Now, the meat and potatoes:

This game has football pundits drooling, as the #1-ranked Giants rushing attack meets up with the #1-ranked Ravens rushing defense.  Something has to give.  The Ravens front 7 will have to keep New Yorks 3-headed backfield of Brandon Jacobs (806 yds), Derrick Ward (490 yds), and Ahmad Bradshaw (205 yds) in check and in front of them.  Once the 6’4″ 260 lb Jacobs gets running free in the secondary, its pretty much lights out.  Especially with the Ravens already depleted back there, the last thing we want to see is Bradshaw and Samari Rolle or Ed Reed crashing into each other.  For the first time this season, the Ravens may actually miss Kelly Gregg.  No disrespect to Justin Bannan, but he will have to really step it up this week.  Some think that the Giants might try to beat that questionable Ravens secondary through the air from the get-go.  We disagree.  The Giants are a very good team, and good teams know who they are and don’t deviate from it just because of their opponent.  They are a running team, and that is what they will set out to do.  If the Ravens D steps up, halftime adjustments may be in order, but backs like Jacobs only get better as the game goes on.  Eli Manning is certainly capable of carving up the Ravens, but he is also prone to relapses from time-to-time (as we saw in Cleveland – 196 yd, 3 INT).  Asking him to go pass-happy against a very opportunistic Ravens defense would be the kind of playing-with-fire that Tom Coughlin is just not all that keen on in his old age.

Elisha is having a solid season, throwing 14 TD and only 6 INT, and he has only taken 11 sacks in 9 games (Joe Flacco, by comparison, has taken 17).

As we’re all aware, the Ravens counter with their own 3-headed monster at RB.  Willis McGahee (463 yds), Le’Ron McClain (361 yds), and Ray Rice (356 yds) will have their work cut out for them as well, against a Giants D that allows less than 90 ground yards per contest.  The outcome of this one will likely be determined by which 3-man backfield has the better day.


Throwing the ball, the Ravens have to be very careful.  The G-Men, even without the retired Michael Strahan or the injured Osi Umenyiora, have still racked up 30 sacks.  And Joe Flacco, for all his progress, still seems to have trouble knowing when to take a sack (picture his very near intentional grounding penalty in Houston last week).  Justin Tuck, perhaps the new prototype for pass rushers in the NFL, has 8, and Mathias Kinwanuka has 6.  Adam Terry, Willie Anderson, and Jared Gaither, who did a great job keeping Mario Williams off the stat sheet last weekend, will have their hands full all afternoon.  Anderson, who injured his ankle Sunday, is expected to play.  As is Derrick Mason, who separated his shoulder but returned to the field against the Texans.  We finally saw Todd Heap come out of his shell last week with 2 touchdown catches, but don’t expect to see more of the same this week; Heap will be called upon repeatedly to help with that relentless Giants’ pass rush.

A slight nod goes to New York’s special teams in this one.  The G-Men’s return and coverage units slightly outperform the Ravens on the year, but neither team has scored a return TD.  The Giants’ kicker, John Carney, is 4 years Matt Stover’s senior, but he is 21/22 (3/3 from 40+) on the year, while Stover is a mediocre 12-16 (2/6).  Sam Koch averages nearly 3 yards more per punt than Jeff Feagles, but Feagles has planted just as many inside the 20 (16) on 11 less tries (33 vs. 44).

We sure as hell have no luck with the other Manning, so why not pick on younger brother a bit?  Let’s win this one and represent AFC North division leaders, who the Mannings are a collective 3-0 against this year.

After further analysis, are we still drunk on the kool-aid?  As Sarah Palin would say, You Betcha!  If we’re going to do this, we’re going all in…none of this “the Ravens will win by 2, but it could really go either way,” crap.  F Dat.

Ravens 24 Giants 14

leave your predictions (and any requisite hating on mine) in the comments!

O's Make Uniform Changes

November 12, 2008

Hey, some Orioles news for ya!

No, they didn’t sign Burnett or Teixeira….yet.  But they are at least giving us a little offseason excitement, in the form of logo/uniform changes.  There is a rally at Noon today down at Harborplace to unveil the new stuff…anybody going?

Courtesy of the Baltimore Sun, here is the new “Bird” that will be on the O’s hats.


Uhh…what the hell is the point?  They actually paid people to sit in a room to come up with…that?  A bird that is now perched on nothing as opposed to standing on nothing?  Awesome.  Hopefully the new road jerseys, which feature “Baltimore” across the front, will be less of a disappointment.  We’ll try to get pictures of those up as soon as they become available (we couldn’t get off work for the rally).

Update: Here are the new jerseys, courtesy of


Looks great.  I like the MD logo on the sleves, for sure.  Now let’s go out and get some good players to wear them, huh?

Giants Not So Dominant Against AFC North Opponents

November 11, 2008

Let us start by saying that we’ll always give credit where credit is due (well, not ALWAYS…you’ll get none and like it, Western PA).  The New York Football Giants are 8-1 so far this season, and dating back to last December, they are on a 15-3 streak.  Obviously, that includes a Super Bowl win as heavy underdogs to an undefeated Patriots team.  So, mad props to the G-Men.

However, that aura of dominance has not been on display this year when Eli & Co. have met up with AFC North teams.  They are 2-1 against the Ravens’ division, but they have hardly dominated.  Let’s take a look back before we gear up to look forward to B’More’s date at the Meadowland’s on Sunday…

September 21 – Giants 26 Bengals 23 (OT)

The G-Men needed an extra period to hand the Bengals their 3rd consecutive loss to start the season.  This game featured 6 lead changes, and the Bungles led 13-10 at the half.  They also led 20-16 with under 5 minutes to play, but could not hold, as Eli led his troops 68 yards on 9 plays to retake the lead, before the Bengals were again able to tie the game as time expired in regulation.  The Associated Press’ recap of the game had this tidbit, which Cam Cameron and the Ravens may want to take to heart:

“The key to the [Bengals’] success was Palmer’s ability to hit quick swing passes, crossing patterns and flanker screens against an all-out pass rush that sacked him four times in the first half — and six times overall.”

October 13 – Browns 35 Giants 14

The Browns were able to rekindle some hope in this lost season of theirs when they drubbed the G-Men in a Nationally Televised Monday Night game in Week 6.  Derek Anderson threw for 310 yards, Jamal Lewis racked up 88, and the Browns defense picked Eli off 3 times as Cleveland outscored New York 18-0 in the 2nd half.  Based on the directions these 2 teams’ seasons have went with the obvious exception of this particular game, it seems pretty safe to say the final score was “fluky” at best.  Perhaps the Giants and Browns just happened to play their worst and best games, respectively, on the same night in the same city.  Still though, it should make a team that beat down those same Browns twice this season at least take a little notice.

October 26 – Giants 21 Steelers 14

This time the Giants were on the receiving end of the “fluky” win.  While here in B’More, we could care less how they beat the Squealers, as long as they did it, this was a game that the G-Men really should have lost. Pittsburgh led 14-9 going into the final quarter, and if not for losing their long snapper to an injury during the game, they probably would have won it.  Emergency snapper James Harrison, though, launched one over the punter’s head and through the end zone, opening the door for New York to score it’s only touchdown of the day, a 2-yard pass to TE Kevin Boss with 3:11 to go.

This one was a defensive struggle all around.  Baby Ben threw 4 interceptions and was sacked 5 times, while the Steelers vaunted pass rush failed to get to Eli even once, but still kept the Giants out of the end zone until the waning moments.  The key was that New York controlled the clock (34-25), as they always do, and Pitt’s D was gassed for that final drive.

Moral of the Story:

The defending Champs have been extremely resilient against the AFC North this year in winning 2 of their 3 contests to date.  However, they have been anything but dominant.

Ravens 41 Texans 13 (The TRAINING WHEELS ARE OFF Game)

November 10, 2008

November 7, 1999.  Ravens 41 Browns 9

Nearly 9 years ago to the day – the last time the Ravens scored as many points on the road as they put up yesterday in Houston.


The last time the Ravens scored as many as 134 points over any 4 game span.

Does anybody else feel like they are watching someone else’s team lately?  All the sudden the Ravens have receivers running amok in the opponents secondary on a regular basis, something that NEVER happened under Brian Billick.

Yesterday’s beatdown of the Houston Texans was the Ravens’ most complete effort of the season.  Except for one collective brain fart by the secondary in which they allowed Kevin Walter to catch-and-run for a 60-yard touchdown, the offense, defense, and special teams all played very, very well.  The score by Walter brought the Texans within 19-13 with 18 minutes remaining in the game.  From that point on (and for the 2nd consecutive week), the Ravens proceeded to dominate the game down the stretch, scoring the games final 22 points.

On defense, the Ravens were solid, and made up for their deficiencies with key big plays and turnovers.  Sage Rosenfels put up big numbers on the day, passing for a career high 294 yards, but more importantly also threw a career high 4 picks.  Rex Ryan’s group made a priority of shutting down Andre Johnson, which they did admirably, holding the NFL’s leading receiver to 66 yards on 7 catches.  The focus on him opened things up around the field for the Texans though, as evidenced by the fact that Rosenfels connected with 9 different receivers.  Fortunately, they were able to do enough up front in pressuring Sage that he couldn’t tell the difference between white and purple when scanning the field.  Pro-Bowl bound Haloti Ngata set the “sage” early on, when he jumped up and tipped Rosenfels’ pass to himself, pulling in his 2nd INT of the season and denying the Texans what would have been a sure TD pass to a wide open Owen Daniels, and a chance to tie the game at 7.  Two possessions later, Terrell Suggs bull rushed as the Texans were backed up on their own 3-yard line, and drew a holding penalty in the end zone resulting in a 2nd Ravens’ safety in 3 games.  Ray Lewis then put together his 3rd career 2 INT game, and Samari Rolle added another for good measure once the game was already well in hand.  Oh, and by the way – that’s now 29 consecutive games without allowing a 100-yard rusher by the Ravens.  Admittedly though, the defense showed some holes yesterday – ones that we’ve known have been there all along.  But they also displayed their ability to come up with huge plays to turn the game in their favor.  With the upcoming schedule, those big plays will likely need to continue to be on display.

The CBS announcer yesterday commented that, “Boy, these Ravens can just come at you from so many different angles,” and I nearly choked on one of Bob’s famous nachos and keeled over right there.  Analysts are actually IMPRESSED with the Baltimore Ravens…on offense!  Cam Cameron deserves every bit of credit people want to heap on him for getting so much out of this Ravens team.  Hey…speaking of “Heap,” look who finally got involved in a game yesterday?  The Stormin’ Mormon caught his first 2 touchdowns of 2008, and stepped up big when Derrick Mason was forced to the sideline with a shoulder separation.  Joe Flacco completed his 4th consecutive game without turning the ball over, and was throwing beautiful DEEP BALLS all day long.  You read that right…the Ravens are now consistently stretching the field, as Cameron has taken the training wheels off his young QB once and for all.  Flacco’s strike to Yamon Figurs to open the scoring was a thing of beauty, but Ravens fans are so used to seeing the team take just ONE, maybe TWO shots down the field per game (you know, “because that fits the dynamic of the situation and the profile of what we are on offense”) that our eyes were bugging out of our heads as we watched Flacco continue to unleash throw after throw of 20-yards plus.

On the ground, Willis McGahee exclaimed a resounding “not so fast!” to those calling for Ray Rice to become the starting RB, racking up 112 yards and 2 scores.

As for the “Suggs Package,” Troy Smith had a 14-yard touchdown pass and 6 rushing yards.  The Ravens just barely missed a big play on another trick effort, where Flacco barely underthrew Smith behind the line of scrimmage.  Replays showed nothing but green and purple between Smith and paydirt.

This is now a Ravens team that can score from anywhere on the field.  Fans and pundits alike have been saying for years how dangerous the Ravens could be if only they had an offense to complement that defense.  Well, folks, that time may be here.  The Ravens newly high octane O has been beating up on some of the less talented defensive units of the NFL over the past 4 games, but things ramp up significantly from here on out.  If the offense has truly “arrived” as we can pretty much agree that it has, it will need to prove it against the tough defenses.  The New York Giants await.

Special teams performed better as well.  They kept the Texans return game in check, and punter Sam Koch had another good day.  Mad props to Steve “Just out of diapers” Hauschka, who was brought in to kick off and stepped in to make a 54-yard field goal in the 2nd quarter.  The writing may be on the wall for Matt Stover, who would later miss badly from 50 yards out.  The day was not a complete loss for (the former?) Auto-Matt-ic, though, as he tied the NFL record for most consecutive PATs made, at 371.

Finally, as hard as it may have been for many in B’More to root for ANYONE in the Pittsburgh game (for the 2nd straight week, no less), we have to thank the Indianapolis Colts for taking care of the Squealers 24-20, forcing them back into a tie with the Ravens for the AFC North lead.

First place in November.  The chance to prove it is no fluke, and that the Ravens are not just a smoke and mirrors show, starts next Sunday at 1:00 ET in East Rutherford, New Jersey.


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