Ravens need a W to prove who they are

October 30, 2009 | Paul Hoke

I’m concerned. Our beloved Baltimore Ravens are taking the field this Sunday, well rested and rejuvenated following their Week 7 bye week to face an opponent they have had fairly good success against in the past. But I’m concerned. And here is why.

When the 3-3 Ravens take the field at the Big Crab Cake this Sunday against the surprisingly undefeated Denver Broncos (6-0), it becomes as close to must win as you can get in Week 8. Not because of the playoffs. Teams don’t clinch a playoff spot in Week 8. But it’s to show everyone…the fans, the media, the NFL, and the nation, exactly where they are as a football team. Forget about January, heck, even if they win it guarantees nothing more the a 4-3 record going to Cincinnati next week. But what a win would do, is show us that they are closer to being contenders, and not pretenders, in the AFC.

I’m not going to take any shots at Denver. They’re 6-0. The Ravens are 3-3. At the end of the day, the Broncos took care of business in all their games, not just those against teams they “should or should not beat.” I hate that cliche’. So did the Eagles after a date in Oakland two weeks ago, I’m sure. The Ravens didn’t. But that is the past. This Sunday shows us where our Ravens are, right now. Not where they may be headed, not where they’ve been, but where they are.

In all honesty, they SHOULD beat Denver on Sunday. They’re home, they’re healthy, they’re rested, and I’m sure they are pumped after spending the last 2 weeks thinking on that loss in Minnesota. The birds of Baltimore have every reason in the world to come out Sunday afternoon, intercept Kyle Orton (who, in my opinion, is mediocre at best) twice and hang a 27-14 loss on Denver, giving them their first loss of the season. No disrespect meant to the Broncos, but if the Ravens are really the team we want to believe they are, they will do just that. If Orton and the Ponies come out Sunday and hang 280 yards and three TD’s on our defense, ala Brett Favre, and Denver leaves with a 28-24 win, then the Ravens show that they are a second tier team who will have to fight and scratch for the rest of the season. And there in lies my concern. Our defense, secondary especially, hasn’t played a full 60 minute game all season. For a variety of reasons not named Greg Mattison. Sloppy tackling, missed assignments, Landry looking lost in coverage, Reed gambling, and apparently losing a step, all these factors have contributed to the Raven defense looking less then it’s normal self…and it has nothing to do, with Greg Mattison. Is it Mattison’s fault that 5 different Raven defenders has a shot at Cedric Benson on his TD run a few weeks ago, and missed? Is it his fault that every time Frank Walker steps on the football field the only thing he can do to defend a wide receiver is to interfere with them? And is it his fault that if the player execution isn’t there, it doesn’t matter who is on defense or what play he calls? No…and there in lies my concern.

We’re going to find out alot about our Ravens this Sunday. I think they’re going to win. I do believe they are the contenders we think they are. This is a VERY talented football team with good players on both sides of the ball. We finally have an offense, and we have some of the best players on defense that the game has seen in the last 30 years. Will it show up on Sunday? I hope so. Otherwise, we will know exactly what kind of football team our beloved Ravens are….I just don’t know if we’re ready to accept it.