The Baltimore Ravens are 4-1 and I have to admit I’m at a little surprised.
I thought that the first six games on the schedule, four of which were road games against playoff caliber clubs, (Cincinnati, NY Jets, Pittsburgh and New England) was a tough stretch for any team to endure. Even if they ended up with three losses heading into their Week Eight Bye (which is still possible but if they lose to Buffalo at home I think I’ll streak through Fells Point) I would have been satisfied.
Instead, they have a chance to knock off another AFC contender in the race to the Super Bowl – the New England Patriots.
The Patriots are still a good team but they are not the invincible group of the mid-thousands that ran up the score as if they were playing Moorehead State and were trying to impress the BCS. That group was a team that you had to be careful of as they had stars on both sides of the football and were always well prepared.
Which is why I’m going to switch gears here to address a few things that have irritated me about this week’s coverage of the game – and it’s not just the national writers.
1) Bill Belichick isn’t just a good coach, he’s magical.
The man is a great coach, Hall of Fame material and has the hardware to prove it. But if I read one more – no one prepares better than “The Hoodie”- articles I’ll start grabbing a fork and stabbing the first thing I see. That’s right you get fork-stabbed.
When the Ravens manhandled the Pats during the playoffs (Tom Brady’s words not mine), where was all the Belichick genius then? What happened to his famed preparation, magic plays and defensive schemes that cause opposing coaches to soil their diapers? Instead the writers focused on how it was the players that couldn’t get it done.
I guess you earn deflection of guilt when you win multiple championships.
Speaking of which let’s not forget Beli-cheat is a disgraceful human being. He quits jobs in mid press conference (remember him almost being the Jets’ coach?), he cheats on his wife while breaking up another marriage, and has his underlings tape his opponents. Yes, he’s really a guy you can get behind in his quest for success.
He can also shoot electricity from his fingertips but doesn’t like to show off.
2) Tom Brady’s Hair
It looks queer.
But seriously I’ve never read more drivel about a football player’s hair before. Um, maybe not. I think that it’s nice to know that the only reason he has the awful cut is because his wife doesn’t want him to change it. This fact makes me happy because at the very least it shows that no matter your station in life your wife can control you.
3) The Pats will be better without Randy Moss.
I understand why they made the move. He was causing trouble in the locker room, supposedly dissing Brady’s girlie do while “Tom Terrific” said something about his nappy braids.
The team wasn’t going to re-sign him so why not get yet another pick for next season’s draft. But you really have to pitch me a convincing argument that the New England offense is better without him, right now. I’ve heard that the “Dink and Dunk” method will work better for this offense. I’ve heard that Brady locked in on Moss for the deep ball too much.
This may be better for the team long term but it doesn’t help for Sunday.
Seeing is believing…so we’ll see.
Should I even mention the acquisition of Deion Branch? He’s an average player who has made a career of wealth and relevance based on one great performance on a national stage.
Wait is his name Joe Namath?
WHAT TO WATCH:
Ray Rice – He exploded all over the Broncos last week and it came just at the right time. Rice also loves New England and posted 100-yd games in both the regular season and playoff games a season ago. The Patriots are 20th in the league against the run. Can Jerod Mayo and his mates of the front seven muster a stronger effort this time around?
Terrell Suggs vs. Tom Brady – Suggs has had huge games in the past against the Patriots and he may be due another one today. He’s caused havoc as well as fumbles at key times in the game. The Ravens are starving for turnovers in 2010. Can Suggs help get something started in that department?
Billy Cundiff – Billy’s right leg has been one of the big surprises of this young season. Brandon Tate is emerging as a dangerous return man for the Patriots. Touchback. Problem solved.
QUESTIONS THAT NEED ANSWERS:
Will Haloti Ngata be limited for today’s game?
He was limited all week due to a mild MCL sprain suffered in the Denver victory. Be prepared coaches. If Ngata cannot play to his All-Pro level that he’s been flashing during the first quarter of the season be prepared to take the heat. John Harbaugh addressed it earlier this week that it doesn’t matter if Ngata plays offense. Yes it does. When it affects his ability to play defense, it does.
How will Joe Flacco fare in another big road game against an AFC opponent?
He played pretty well in the first meeting last season but was relegated to handing off 52 times during the playoff game. The New England corners are young and while they can produce turnovers (a problem Flacco has had on the road), they can also be beaten. If the Patriots stack the box, the opportunities will be there to use Anquan Boldin and the rest of the vet receivers for big plays.
What’s the Prediction?
The Ravens are a better team that the Patriots – right now. Of course any time you have a top quarterback like Brady, a good coach in Belichick and home field advantage it’s never easy. The better team doesn’t always win. My biggest area of concern – turnover differential. The Ravens defense has missed a ton of chances so far, while the Pats have converted most of theirs. I think the only way the Ravens lose is if they beat themselves and put Brady in a position late to lead a winning drive.
Ravens 24, Patriots 21