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I must give credit where it’s due and this week it goes to the Bills for playing a stand-up game on Sunday evening. They could have folded the tent early (Sun columnist Mike Preston wrote that their buses would be warming up by half time) but the Bills were in the game to the very end.
I saw two things in the game which continue to worry me as the Ravens approach their first playoff game:
1 – Lack of a Running Attack
Buffalo was ranked in the lower tier of NFL teams for run defense and yet we still struggled. The yardage was inflated because of that late run by Mike Anderson. Jamal Lewis has definitely lost a step and it was more than evident on Sunday. If the chalk horses win this weekend the Irsay Colts will be playing her on January 13th. Now Indy is ranked dead last in run defense, but it means little when the Ravens have the 28th ranked run offense. Sorta cancels things out, don’t you think? That leaves the Colt passing attack against the Ravens d-backs, and I don’t like those odds at all.
We all know that Billick is loyal to a fault when it comes to his vets, particularly those who have delivered in the past. He’s been more than fair to Jamal Lewis. With Ogden and Vincent hopefully back in the lineup I hope for a more robust running game, but if Jamal stutter steps his way again I definitely would put Mike Anderson in. Although he’s 32, he’s been barely used this year and probably has the freshest legs on the team.
2. – The Return Game
I think of all the weaknesses that the Ravens have going into the post season, small as they may seem, the lack of an effective return game can really hurt us. I get very nervous watching Cory Ross return punts. He lacks the vision, awareness, and the moves of B.J. Sams. And I don’t trust his hands or his instincts. Funny thing, I was all for suspending Sams for a couple of games after his latest DUI. I guess this is an example of "Be careful what you wish for; you might just get it."
I hope that Frank Gansz is a least working out Mark Clayton and/or Chris McAlister on the return team. An option would be to set up a punt-blocking scheme, one that Ed Reed used so successively in 2004, but I understand that most NFL special teams have now schemed against that.
My Weekly Observations from the NFL (and others):
  • Now we know why Art Shell was out of work for so long after being fired by Al Davis in the 90’s. And it had nothing to do with race.
  • Jim Mora Sr. had it wrong; Michael Vick wasn’t the coach killer, it was his son’s big mouth.
  • In an in-depth series of articles analyzing the Redskin’s fall from grace this season, the Post quoted Joe Gibbs several times as saying that he’s looking for "Real Redskins." How about a real general manager, coach? 
  • I thought it was a slam dunk that Parcells would return next year and T.O. would hit the waiver wire. After watching Parcells’ comments after the latest (Detroit) debacle, I may have it backwards. The Fort Worth Star Telegram is actually calling for Jerry Jones to fire Parcells. 
  • Detroit, blows the 1st round pick in the 2007 draft, has the worst record in the league over the past 3 years, and Matt Millen gets to keep his job! No wonder Ford Motor Company is doing so bad. 
  • Romeo Crennel looks like a lost ball in high grass. Combined with his team’s 2 year 10-22 record and mouthy, underachieving draft selections, the shine on Phil Savage’s apple has definitely worn off. 
  • The Boise State – Oklahoma game was the best college game I’ve seen in years -maybe ever. It truly deserves the title "Instant Classic." I bet the suits at the World Wide Leader are kicking themselves for not negotiating rights to this game.
  • Best Comment Heard at the Stadium on Sunday: A guy walks up the steps in the 4th Quarter of the Bills game dressed in a Joey Porter game day shirt. A guy sitting behind me says…"So who are you playing next week?" Steeler fan keeps walking…."So who’re you going to play next week?" …..Steeler fan keeps walking up the steps. Finally, most of the 134 section, awash in purple and black yells "So…….who’re you playing next week??" We were awarded with the single finger salute. He was awarded with a chorus of boos.
Festivus All the Way! Three and Out!!

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Fran "The Fan" Vojik

About Fran "The Fan" Vojik

Fran Vojik has been a contributor to the Ravens24X7 site since 2005, first as a regular on the "Letters to T.L." page, then as the author of the Fran the Fan column. A huge Orioles and Ravens fan, he defines the term “homer.” A former season ticket holder of the Baltimore Colts, he now roots on the Ravens from his corner end zone seat in M&T Bank Stadium. His work makes him a regular traveler to various MLB and NFL cities and he’s watched both the Birds and Purple and Black in a variety of away stadiums. He brings a passionate and humorous perspective to the world of professional sports. Born in Highlandtown, and a graduate of Calvert Hall College and the University of Maryland, he lives on Furnace Creek in northern Anne Arundel County. He and his girlfriend, Sandy, have recently renovated his Man Cave, known as the “The Sports Palace," which contains many mementos from the Colts, Ravens, and Orioles. On days the Ravens play at home, Fran can usually be found tailgating at the Baltimore Fire Fighters Union Hall Local 734 , supporting the organization’s Widow’s and Orphan’s fund. More from Fran "The Fan" Vojik


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