It kinda reminds me of Christmas Eve with anticipation. We’ve been waiting…and waiting…and waiting…and finally, football season is really here in Baltimore.
Wash away those ghosts of Troy Polamalu – the ones from the AFC Championship Game in January not the one from Thursday night – and let us begin a season anew.
First up, it’s the woeful Kansas City Chiefs. The general vibe around town all week has been one of supreme confidence. Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed began their Wednesday press conference with dancing. John Harbaugh has sounded confident. Joe Flacco seems like a veteran all of a sudden.
I’ve quizzed several Kansas City media members and I had a chance to watch parts of two of their preseason games (both without Matt Cassel). No one is brimming with confidence in the land of the red Chiefs and no one really expects them to win tomorrow.
The Vegas line started at 10 ½ and has now moved to 13 points. Even if Matt Cassel plays on Sunday – and that seems to be a sure bet given their backup options with Tyler Thigpen and Brodie Croyle – the Chiefs are a team of nobodys and “who is thats” coming in to serve the purple patrons an Opening Day patsy.
The Ravens should win on Sunday. There should be no excuses.
The team has looked brilliant in virtually every facet of first-team play through four preseason games. They’ve almost made it look too easy, even without Terrell Suggs for long stretches.
Confidence is high. Tailgates are sizzling with Roma Sausage and cold beer. Even the weather looks to be strong – forecast is 78 degrees and zero chance of precipitation.
So, just how will the 2009 season go for the Ravens?
The fans are abuzz with talk of depth at the wide receiver position. The offensive line is trying to find some depth to open up holes for a running back-by-committee arrangement with Willis McGahee, Le’Ron McClain and Ray Rice, who will probably be the leading rusher if they all stay healthy. And the health and productivity of Todd Heap is certainly a question mark.
But, offensively, it feels like Flacco will be asked to do more and looks more than capable of stepping up to that challenge.
Defensively, the eyes will always be on Ray Lewis, who is fighting Father Time with every season. Consider that he’s now survived two years longer than Jon Ogden and the likes of Peter Boulware, Jamie Sharper, Chris McAlister, Duane Starks – who all entered the league after No. 52 – all seems to be done in the NFL. Lewis was considered a surefire Hall of Famer five years ago is now continuing to pile on his own legacy.
What kind of a year will it be for Lewis?
And Ed Reed, who has had neck issues and certainly doesn’t appear set for a long, long career given his style of play and reckless abandon and penchant for physical contact?
Terrell Suggs appeared injured during most of camp but quieted all questions for me in the Atlanta game, when he looked dominant and healthy.
The secondary will have a fresh look with Dominique Foxworth and Fabian Washington mixing it up with Frank Walker, who has to earn a little more confidence from the purple crowd and probably will vs. Kansas City.
The defensive line appears to be the strength of the defense, led by Haloti Ngata who had a mysterious injury appear earlier this week.
Questions and more questions. We’ll have 16 weeks of this marathon.
The answers begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Bring on the season. Bring on the Chiefs. Bring on the roadtrips!
My prediction: Ravens go 12-4 and win the Super Bowl.
Baltimore 31, Kansas City 13