Talk about a chance to kill two birds with one stone.
The Ravens not only get an opportunity to atone for last week’s final five minutes of embarrassment in Philadelphia, but they can re-establish themselves as a legitimate contender in the AFC this Sunday night when the Patriots come strolling in for a national TV affair with John Harbaugh’s team.
The Ravens need a win. I guess it would be better if the Browns were Sunday’s opponent, but that’s not the way the schedule makers saw week #3 playing out. So here come the Patriots, armed with wonder-boy at quarterback, a beefed up pass-catching corps and, apparently, an improved defense.
The Ravens, as you know, are seeking to rebound from a horrible loss to the Eagles, where the defense caved in with under five minutes remaining and the offense couldn’t go fifty yards with two time-outs in their pocket in the game’s last 120 seconds.
It should be a helluva game.
And, as is always the case when the Ravens face a top opponent in Baltimore on national TV, Ray Lewis and the gang will be fired-freakin’-up.
I know you’re waiting – impatiently, by now – to see two things: 1) My pick for the game 2) Bill’s comment and attempted personal destruction of me and my character in the “comments section” below.
I’ll give you #1 right now. I’m sure you’ll see #2 shortly.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the Ravens aren’t winning Sunday night.
Everything sort-of points to Baltimore winning, actually. They’re playing at home, where they haven’t lost since December of 2010, twelve games ago. In other words, no matter who comes to town, the Ravens don’t lose at M&T Bank Stadium. It would also make sense to assume the Ravens’ offense can’t sputter and spit like a ’73 Vega on Sunday night. After all, they had a week to get a tune-up after last Sunday’s sub-par second half. By now, Cam, Joe and the rest of the offense have it all figured out, right?
Yes, it makes sense to figure the Ravens are going to win. As I noted above, they’ll be fired up beyond belief. But “fired up” doesn’t really matter once the third quarter rolls around. If Tiger Woods showed up to play me one-on-one at Mountain Branch, I’d be fired up for that. I might make a birdie or two out of the gate. But when the dust settled and we were shaking hands on the 18th green, he’d have a 63 on his scorecard and I’d have my tail between my legs.
Remember this before I tell you what’s going to happen on Sunday: NO ONE, including you, knows what will transpire on Sunday night. If you knew what was going to happen on Sunday night, you’d bet $100,000 on it and be a rich man. So would I.
But I *think* the Ravens are losing on Sunday night for one simple reason — the Baltimore defense isn’t all that good and the great #12 and his merry cast of characters will expose that fact on Sunday.
Without the ability to chase the quarterback around, the Ravens can’t beat the Patriots. In two games thus far, Baltimore’s pass rush has been relatively non-existent. In pass coverage, the purple linebacking group can’t do squat. And as long as Brady doesn’t do something dumb like try and pick on Lardarius Webb, he should have a field day exposing the dynamic duo of Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith on “the other side”. I think New England will run the ball 24 times just to say they did it. But they’ll throw it 40 times because they can.
I’m going to assume the Baltimore offense will bounce back on Sunday and have a decent night against the Patriots. I know the final two minutes was ugly last week in Philly, but that was then, this is now. At home, Joe Flacco and Company will bounce back.
But the Ravens defense won’t be able to handle New England’s offense for 60 minutes.
New England wins 24-20.
I sure hope I’m wrong.