Football season is upon us, B’More!
Whats wrong? Why aren’t you more excited?
Oh, you’re buying into all this talk around town about how horrible the Ravens are going to be? Well, get over it.Seriously, with all the negativity around this town surrounding the football team, you would think we were the Arizona Cardinals or Atlanta Falcons or something. So we probably won’t win the division in 2008. There’s a good chance we will miss the playoffs. Hell, most would say .500 would be a major accomplishment for the Ravens. But try and remember for a minute what it felt like to not even have our own NFL team on Sundays to cheer for. From 1983-1995, when we were forced to watch other cities in envy that our town wasn’t out tailgating with friends and family on game day. Those days are over, so try to remember how fortunate we are to have a team again, and keep this season in perspective, huh?
Now, on to the preview.
The John Harbaugh era begins in B’More this Sunday, as has been the plan since last winter. However, the Joe Flacco era is starting a tad prematurely due to some unforeseen circumstances plaguing the other Ravens quarterbacks. This has some fans a bit uneasy, as the last quarterback we drafted and started as a rookie didn’t turn out all so well. But reservations or not, Joe Flacco will be under center at M&T this week, so we might as well get behind #5.
Coming to town are the newly minted Chad Ocho Cinco and the Bungles. As we have mentioned before, no matter how bad Cincy is, the Ravens always seem to bring the best out of them. Well, most expect the Bungles to battle the Ravens for AFC North punching bags, so they will probably look Super Bowl-bound on Sunday. Carson Palmer has had no trouble dicing up the Ravens defense, no matter how healthy they are, and has led Cincy to wins in 5 of the last 6 contests against B’More. Unfortunately, his job gets a little easier, as the Ravens will likely be without the services of Ed Reed and Kelly Gregg due to injury, and Derrick Martin and Fabian Washington due to suspension. Throw in a knee injury that may or may not sideline Chris McAlister, and Palmer is probably licking his chops (in between swabbing the blood from his broken nose, of course).
The Bengals’ defense finished 27th in the NFL last year, but of course had no trouble stopping the Ravens. The last time these teams met, we were treated to the Worst Offense in All the Land game. Well, the Bungles lost two of their best players from that craptastic unit, DE Justin Smith and S Madieu Williams. So if the time was ever right for old Cam Cameron to impress all of Baltimore with his offensive genius, then this is surely it. Willis McGahee will likely be a game-time decision, but rookie Ray Rice has looked strong in the preseason, and will see a good amount of carries regardless. Also helping in the ground game, that the team will try to use to protect their young QB, is FB Le’Ron McClain, who Cameron likes to use as a power back compliment to Rice. With McClain and newly acquired Lorenzo Neal in the backfield, not many teams can match up with the kind of bruising running game the Ravens can bring. The running game will need to be in midseason form for the purple and black to have any shot in this one.
Of course, everyone is much more interested in the passing game that Joe will hope to resurrect. He will at least have his full compliment of weapons, as Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, Demetrius Williams, Todd Heap, and Dan Wilcox are all expected to play this week (when was the last time that happened?) The key will be protecting Joe. We at the Nest aren’t quite sure why everybody is so down on the Ravens offensive line. The interior of Ben Grubbs, Jason Brown, and Marshal Yanda has the potential to become one of the best in the league over the next few seasons. On top of that, Jared Gaither had a very strong game against Atlanta, and Adam Terry didn’t look half bad either. Granted, they only played for less than 1 half, and they will need to carry that kind of play for 4 quarters, but what we saw was promising. Also, rumor has it that the Ravens are set to sign former Bengals tackle Willie Anderson on Friday. We’ll go out on a limb here and say that the O-Line will pleasantly surprise.
Still, we have a rookie quarterback and a rookie head coach in their respective debuts. Those two elements usually don’t add up to a lot of success. Flacco will hold his own, but if the Ravens are going to win this one, or even keep it close, it will probably have to be with that old combo of special teams and defense. Unfortunately, Carson Palmer does not blink in the face of the Ravens D, and Yamon Figurs isn’t quite Devin Hester (even if he did beat him in track in High School).
Bengals 27 Ravens 13