News and Notes from a Fan’s Perspective
This is the Year
Finally…..after a long and, thankfully boring preseason, the Ravens kick off their 2009 campaign on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. What, you ask, makes a preseason boring? (OK, outside of it being 2 games too long). Well, the Ravens won all their games, mostly with ease, the defense allowed on average less than 10 points a game, Cam Cameron opened up the offense for Joe Flacco, and most importantly, nobody important got hurt.
You’ll remember there was high angst last year as the Ravens went into the first game not only with a rookie quarterback and head coach, but with Kelly Gregg and Dwan Edwards on the I.R. Ed Reed didn’t practice or play during the preseason with his nerve impingement and he was pretty much a game-time decision every Sunday. Troy Smith’s tonsil infection during training camp took him right out of the running for the starting quarterback’s job (not that anybody’s complaining about his replacement, mind you……)
Gains are the return of Derrick Mason, a completely healthy D-line, an improved defensive backfield, the best running game in the NFL, and a long sought-after career right tackle.
Rex Ryan and Bart Scott, period. You could throw Matt Stover in there, but we had to cut the umbilical cord sometime. We’ve lost defensive coordinators, outside linebackers, and specialists like Jim Leonhard before and the Ravens haven’t missed a step. We won’t this year, either.
The Ravens are healthy, wealthy, and stacked. Now, with my Purple-Tinted glasses firmly in place, it’s time for my predictions for the 2009 season.
The Schedule: A Yahoo web site posted the strength-of-schedules for every team this year and the Ravens 2009 opponents only won 43% of the time in 2008, a number that’s very deceiving. The winless Lions and the 2-14 Chiefs vastly skewed that number. The Ravens schedule got somewhat harder over the course of the off season and training camp thanks to some major developments in the NFC North. Jay Cutler is now the QB in place of Kyle Orton on a Chicago team that already has a great D; his Royal Majesty Brett Favre in place of Tavares Jackson in Minnesota to augment the next league MVP, Adrian Peterson; Aaron Rodgers has come into his own in Green Bay.
Elsewhere, the Chargers own the AFC West by default and the Patriots will reclaim the AFC East with Tom Brady under center. There’s no need to mention the Steelers and Colts beyond their names. No doubt, it’s a tough schedule.
That said, I think there is no way the Ravens will lose more than 4 games this year. And it may be less. I think they will take 1 out of 2 from the Steelers and finally end the torturous Peyton Manning–led dominance of the Colts.
I smell the division championship. I smell the playoffs, and there’s a scent of South Beach in the air. If we stay healthy, we can do it.
AFC North Champions, AFC Conference Champions, Super Bowl XLIV Champions!!
The journey to Miami will have an easy start. Playing a soft opponent, with no offensive strategy other than to keep Matt Cassell out of harm’s way, the Ravens will roll on Sunday and it won’t be close. Against the Chiefs, the Black Birds will break out the three-headed monster on offense and Greg Mattison’s defense will pitch a shutout. We’ll all be hitting the parking lots and light rail platforms early.
Ravens 27, Chiefs 0.