The Ravens did well to rest their starters – as long as it doesn’t backfire on Sunday
As Tony Lombardi so aptly noted in his game column (The Good, the Bad, and the Megan Fox), the Ravens closed out the 2012 regular season by playing their 5th preseason game of the year, closing out the 2012 regular season with a 23-17 defeat in Cincinnati.
I had no problems with John Harbaugh resting the walking wounded. When I saw the text of the Ravens inactives on my cell phone I realized Harbs was making a prudent decision – resting his injured vets – knowing that the chances of the Ravens moving to a 3rd seed were slim.
There was no way the Belichick Patriots were going to give up postseason positioning by losing to an obviously inferior Miami team. Those predictions were born out when the Patriots laid the mustard on the Miami Dolphins, 28-0. Besides, it was good to see Tyrod Taylor, Bernard Pierce, Anthony Allen, and David Reed get some needed work.
What wasn’t widely anticipated (outside of Indiana, maybe) was the Houston Texans getting blind-sided by the Indianapolis Colts. This blew my and many post season seeding pairs right out the window. Instead of playing the underperforming Texans on January 12-13, the Ravens, assuming they beat the Colts, now might play against the League’s potential Comeback Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, and Most Valuable Player, all under the name of one Peyton Manning.
I knew the Ravens could take out the Texans on the road in Houston; but the Colts beat us to the punch. Now the Ravens might have to play in thin air against a quarterback who, over his stellar career, has owned us lock, stock and barrel.
I was concerned that the offensive play makers – minus the sore-shouldered Anquan Boldin - only stayed in for a couple of series. Considering the Ravens were working on only their 3rd game with a new offensive coordinator, I would have thought it important that Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, and others would have stayed on the field for at least 2 quarters to work out the remaining kinks of a new offensive philosophy.
They are only kinks but they still have to be worked out.
The national pundits picked up on that right away, stating that the Ravens squandered an opportunity to build on the excellent win they gained at home against the Giants. From Trent Dilfer and Mike & Mike on the 4 Letter Network, to analysts at the various dot coms, they were united in the opinion that the Ravens should have played – and stayed – with their starters. They downgraded the Ravens grades accordingly.
Time will tell who is right.
There is a way the Ravens can avoid playing in Denver in two weeks. Root for the Cincinnati Bengals to beat the Houston Texans this coming Saturday. Based on how the respective teams are currently playing, a Bengals upset victory over the Texans is a distinct possibility. That means the lowest seed Bengals would travel to highest seed Denver, and would have the Ravens travel to Foxborough to play the Patriots.
And THAT matchup strikes NO fear in the hearts of the Baltimore Ravens or their fans.
But first, we have to get past the Colts. I don’t want my football season to end on January 6. If the Ravens stumble and bumble out of the gate again on Sunday against another rookie quarterback and an already inspired Indianapolis team, you know the questions will be flying – hard and fast.