FTB2 and Football

September 26, 2007 | Ed Frankovic

Free The Birds 2 was alot of fun last night. We had a great time up in Section 378 cheering and jeering and
making lots of noise in what has now become a library instead of a baseball park.

After pretty much making our point most of us decided to bail in the 5th inning and head home to catch MNF. Orioles baseball is totally unwatchable these days.

I feel bad for some of my old media friends, like Dave Ginsburg of the Associated Press, who makes a living watching that garbage of a product night in and night out.

I did make Dave smile though when I waved to him as we paraded past the press box on our way out.

Luckily Dave also covers the Ravens so he has something good sports-wise to see in Baltimore (unfortunately he also spends some of his time covering the poorly run Washington Capitals, but that is a story for next week when I bring you my NHL preview).

On to the NFL…
Three weeks are in the books and the Ravens have shown us some brilliance and some very poor play at times (mainly the pass defense at the ends of the last 2 games). Thankfully they are 2-1 and in pretty good shape other than some tough injuries.

The biggest injury right now is definitely Trevor Pryce because the team seems to have lost it’s pass rush since he went down. Some major positives have come out of these first 3 games: The young offensive line is getting alot of work together and improving, Yamon Figurs looks like a great kick returner, Willis McGahee has been sharp and should keep improving, and Kyle Boller has played the best football in his career giving the Ravens arguably the best backup QB in football.

Derek Mason is also off to a great start and Matt Stover is thankfully still the man who delivers in the clutch. McNair is still the guy who has to lead this team into the playoffs but having Boller is a nice luxury, especially with McNair’s injury history.

In the bigger picture, New England, Indy, and Pittsburgh are all 3-0 and playing great so when some of us compare where the Ravens are at right now to those teams it is not hard to feel a little inadequate.

But if you take the 2-1 Ravens record, add in the injury situation, and compare them against some other teams you start feeling alot better. Chicago is 1-2 and have no QB and a ton of injuries and New Orleans is 0-3 and done. Those were the 2 teams in the NFC Championship game last year (by the way, can the Ravens petition the league to move to the NFC??!!).

In the AFC, things are razor tight below the 3 unbeaten teams. Tennessee looks scary at 2-1 with Vince Young — I’m glad the Ravens don’t play them this year. Jacksonville is a quiet 2-1 thanks to a great defense and Denver is off to a good start at 2-1 but I see them fading. And remember those 14-2 Chargers from last year? They are 1-2 and fighting amongst themselves.

Thanks again, Chargers management, for taking Norv "how to turn a 14-2 team into an 8-8 one" Turner over Ravens D-coordinator Rex Ryan.

There isn’t much else in the AFC: The Bengals have no defense but will likely make a run at some point just based on their offensive talent. Houston is better but not a playoff team this year and we already beat the Jets who made the playoffs last year. KC, another playoff team from last year, has no QB and anyone who watched Hard Knocks on HBO this summer knew they weren’t going to be very good this year. So after reading all of this and looking at Rob Long’s power rankings it is not really that illogical to see why the Ravens are #5 on that list (and that is a list based on a straight formula — and a pretty good one at that).

This week the team goes to Cleveland, a place they have not played well at since 2003. Let’s face it, the Browns LIVE to play the Ravens and the Ravens typically don’t get up against Cleveland. Football is a very emotional game and if you aren’t ready to play you will lose because the talent level is so close in this league.

This will be a very tough game and you can bet Jamal Lewis and Derek Anderson have something to prove
to Baltimore.

Personally, I hope Cleveland tries to run on the Ravens because I don’t think it can be done.

Passing seems to be the way to go based on the first 3 games and Cleveland has some good weapons with Braylon
Edwards, Kellen Winslow, and Joe Jurevicius. Week 4 games are rarely must wins but the difference between being 3-1 and 2-2 is huge given the Ravens end of season schedule and current health situation.

Brian Billick, Rex Ryan, and the rest of the coaching staff really need to get the players to focus and execute this week or the team will lose. I’ll take a win any way the team can get it this week (just no more major injuries!).

Ed
emfrank123@comcast.net

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