A Disconcerting Trend
It’s been 4 days since the near-debacle at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City and I still can’t get the bad taste out of my mouth. What should have been a cakewalk against a 1-3 Chiefs team that, incidentally, should have been 0-4, turned into a nail biter. It’s hard to believe that in the 21st Century two NFL teams could play 60 minutes of football in picture-perfect weather and not score a touchdown. And throw only 45 passes TOTAL between the two teams. If that had been any other team except the Kansas City Chiefs, the Ravens would have suffered their second loss of the year.
As I put on my Facebook page: Thank you, Matt Cassel. Thank you for the 4 turnovers and that impressive fumble on the Ravens goal line. The Ravens couldn’t have done it without you. Believe me, we Ravens fans were not cheering when you had to leave the game.
This game had all the disturbing overtones of the Jacksonville and Seattle road losses last year, losses, attentive readers will remember, that cost the Ravens home field advantage in the AFC playoffs. This year the margin for error is much smaller. The defense is a shell of itself and the heretofore rarely seen is now commonplace:
- Ray Lewis is repeatedly getting knocked on his butt
- There is no consistent pass rush
- And a porous rush defense is giving up triple digits every game
I could go on, but others have already done it better so let’s leave that game behind and chalk it up to a 10 day lay off. Let’s look around the league:
The Stock Market Report
- Houston Texans (1): Like everyone else, I have Houston at the top, but check their schedule and tell me who they’ve played that’s even decent besides an ordinary Denver team. And…they’ve just lost their best linebacker.
- Atlanta Falcons (2): They’re also 5-0, but Matt Ryan always shines in the regular season. Their schedule to date mirrors the Texans – they now play nothing but bad teams until well after their bye week.
- San Francisco 49ers (3): The loss to Minnesota had to be the football equivalent of a bad hair day. They are toasting the rest of the league.
- New England Patriots (4): Hate ‘em if you want, but Tom Brady and a balanced attack are doing the trick.
- Baltimore Ravens (5): I’m doing this under protest. I can’t believe the Ravens are ranked so high in the polls with a predictable offense and porous defense. Still, they’re 4-1.
Stock Down: (there’s plenty of bad teams out there, but here are my 5 bottom feeders)
- Cleveland Browns (32): The annual construction project is well underway, and it’s not going well. Last year they missed out on Andrew Luck and RG III. This year Matt Barkley or Geno Smith will be there for the asking.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (31): The Jags are scheduled to play in London for the next 4 years beginning in 2013. The NFL is going to sell the Brits on American football with this team? Are you kidding me?
- Tennessee Titans (30): Chris Johnson is MIA, and NFL.com reported that the Titans are the first team in NFL history to allow 30 points or more in its first 5 games of the season.
- Carolina Panthers (29): Against all predictions, Cam Newton is having a horrible year. And all of a sudden, they can’t tackle.
- Kansas City Chiefs (28): Brady Quinn might get a chance this week to strut his stuff. He can’t do any worse.
Dead Men Walking Update: Coaches on the Chopping Block
1) Pat Shurmur, Cleveland. He will get swept away in the Lake Erie tsunami that will hit the Browns front office in January.
2) Romeo Crennel, Kansas City. He’s proving that he can’t be the head coach and defensive coordinator at the same time. Next year, he won’t have to worry about either.
3) Rex Ryan, New York Jets. I’ve waited patiently for 4 years to put Rex on this list. Who goes first, the Rexinator or Marc Sanchez?
4) Mike Shanahan, Washington. I work in D.C. and I can tell you that, in the eyes of Redskins fans, Robert Griffin III defines the very word Franchise. Mike and his kid offensive coordinator better be very, very careful how they handle RG III from this point forward.
Non-Football Orange Thought of the Week:
The Buck Showalter Revenge Show is now playing to an SRO audience in the Big Apple. Go O’s!
It’s been 4 years since the Ravens and America’s Team (sic) played each other. Back in 2008, Jerry Jones was looking for a patsy for his Cowboys to beat into submission as they closed Texas Stadium before a national TV audience. Joe Flacco and Ray Rice were rookies, and John Harbaugh was in his first year as head coach, having taken over for Brian Billick – who’s 5-11 season in 2007 was the reason Jerra cherry-picked the Ravens to begin with. But Le’Ron McClain scored on an 82-yard run and some timely defense and Matt Stover’s leg led the Ravens to victory, 33-24.
Personnel-wise, not much has changed since then. But statistically, the worm has turned for these two teams. Dallas is ranked 4th overall in defense, 1st in pass defense. Baltimore is ranked an unbelievable 24th. Offensively, the Ravens hold the 8 spot while the Cowboys are ranked 16th. Dallas has a banged up offensive line so maybe the Ravens defense can get some penetration on Tony Romo and also stop the running game. They’d better, because I don’t like their chances against the Dallas secondary. But the Ravens no-huddle should work well at home.
The line is Ravens -3.5 and that’s about right. I like the Ravens in a close one,
Ravens 20, Cowboys 17
Note: All stats courtesy of NFL.com, and thanks to the Baltimore Sun, the Bleacher Report and FoxSports.com for additional content.