In the immediacy of the Baltimore Ravens’ 20-13 AFC Divisional Round playoff victory over the Houston Texans Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, I couldn’t help but notice something strange.
It wasn’t from ALL Baltimore Ravens fans, in fact it was far from it.
Instead it came from a particular group of fans who are regularly quick to over-analyze and are particularly negative. Instead of analyzing the team’s strategy and game play against the AFC South champions, they did something much more strange.
They analyzed the team’s strategy and game play based on their next opponent-the New England Patriots.
I’d like to take this time to do what we call in the radio business “resetting.”
The Baltimore Ravens will face the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts Sunday, January 22nd at 3pm. The game will be seen live on CBS.
In shorter form, the Ravens and the Pats are nearly a week away from facing each other. They were not scheduled to play (that I know of) this past weekend.
Over the weekend, the only team the Ravens were scheduled to play was the Houston Texans. They won that game 20-13 to advance in the National Football League Playoffs.
I can see where it might seem silly, me resetting like this. I just feel the need to do it because of the many responses I’ve seen since Sunday’s game went final.
“Tom Brady would pick apart this defense.”
“Joe Flacco will be embarrassed standing next to Tom Brady.”
“Cam Cameron isn’t aggressive enough to beat the Pats.”
For the record, I intend to make a pick for the AFC Championship Game this Friday on “The Friday Football Frenzy.” For a second straight week, I picked just two of the four NFL Playoff games correctly this weekend. I struggled coming down the stretch in the regular season as well. I picked the Ravens to win 12 of their 16 regular season games this year, and I was right nine times. I also picked the Ravens to lose four games during the regular season-I got only one of those (at San Diego) right.
My point is that I have no issue with someone looking into their crystal ball to guess who will win a football game. No matter how intelligent someone may be however, it is ALWAYS only a guess. No one (not even in Las Vegas-I think) actually has any idea of who will win a game before it happens.
But this is an appropriate thing to do on a Friday (or Thursday perhaps) after spending a few days breaking down the matchups and taking a closer look at the involved parties.
I stress to you-what happened Sunday here in Charm City may (or may not) have ANYTHING to do with what the Ravens will do in their next game against the Pats.
They weren’t playing the Pats Sunday. They didn’t prepare for them. They didn’t face the same matchups that they will face this coming Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
Saying “they would have gotten destroyed by the Patriots today” is completely irrelevant. No one on the face of the planet has any idea how the Ravens would have done against the Patriots yesterday.
As the Ravens do prepare for their AFC title showdown, they will have plenty to look at. They will prepare for a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Brady, a MONSTER tight end tandem in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, a rushing attack that has been so inept their leading rusher in their Saturday night win over the Denver Broncos was Hernandez and a defense that ranked next to last in the NFL in the regular season.
In getting ready for the Texans, the Ravens prepared for rookie quarterback T.J. Yates, an all-world rushing attack lead by Arian Foster, one of the finest wide receivers in the game in Andre Johnson and a defense that was statistically ranked second in the NFL in the regular season.
Needless to say, the matchup is much different. The game will almost certainly be played in a different manner.
There is no guarantee that the Ravens will wander into Foxborough, beat the Patriots and march on to Super Bowl XLVI. There is of course no guarantee they’ll see their season come to a close either.
But there IS a guarantee that the NFL won’t move kickoff before the game is played. This one will start at 3pm Sunday, allowing each team a full week to prepare.
The Ravens’ performance against the Patriots could be the exact same as it was against the Texans-but I’ll bet it won’t be. I’ll bet the team has a different gameplan and the Patriots offer a different style of football-perhaps a more quick strike offense.
I say that facetiously.
The game will almost certainly be completely different. I’ll look forward to spending the week looking at matchups. At this point I’m definitely concerned about the 6’6″ tight end who came off the Ravens’ draft board because of a failed physical.
Physical-that’s a funny word to use with him.
Just please be willing to not use Sunday’s performance as an indictment of what the Ravens are going to do on the field in New England.
George Lopez is only sorta funny sometimes and while Contraband might be okay I can’t tell you I’m really looking forward to it.
So let’s talk about Restaurant Week. As you know, Hightopps Backstage Grille in Timonium is one of my personal favorite spots in Baltimore County. What you might not know is that the breakout star of “Monday Night Live” for the 2011 season was the Santa Fe Fries…
I would have taken a picture of a full plate, but there was never a full plate. Never.
The ESPY Awards are an annual event put on by ESPN that you’ve never watched from start to finish despite the fact that the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” promotes them for about 6 months.
And since you likely won’t be watching next July, I’ll prevent the suspense. Jerome Simpson’s TD catch for the Cincinnati Bengals against the Arizona Cardinals Saturday wins SOMETHING.
As our own Brian Billick said on FOX, “you don’t get style points in the NFL but that oughtta be worth eight.”
Oh, and don’t look now but Cincy is playing great football just before they welcome the Ravens to Paul Brown Stadium next Sunday with the fate of the AFC North hanging in the balance. I don’t want to talk about that right now though. Perhaps never.
As someone who roots for a baseball team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 1997, I know a thing or two about what it must have felt like for fans in the Music City to watch their team clinch a Wild Card spot in the final moments of their win over the San Diego Chargers Saturday night…
The Bolts were finally eliminated from the playoffs, which you would assume will lead to Norv Turner’s firing. They may or may not have already interviewed Bill Cowher for Turner’s job, and Jon Gruden may or may not be next.
In the meantime, if you’re going to lose at least do it with amazing hair like SD DE Antonio Garay…
It was the final win of a record-setting career for the Broncos quarterback, it was just really unfortunate it happened in this venue instead of in a BCS bowl, as America would have enjoyed watching them play a team that actually gave a s**t…
The win came as rumors swirled that Penn State was interested in hiring BSU coach Chris Petersen. In a related story, I am interested in being hired by Saturday Night Live.
Petersen obviously is not interested in replacing Joe Paterno in State College. And if you were living as large as this dude is, why would you take ANY job?
In the Carolina Panthers’ win over the Bucs Saturday, Newton broke National Football League records for rookie passing yards (Peyton Manning) and quarterback rushing touchdowns (Steve Grogan). He did it in pretty spectacular fashion…
Things couldn’t be worse for the Bucs. Head coach Raheem Morris apparently “sent home” DE Brian Price after getting a 15 yard personal foul call and the team’s freefall continued on toward what looks more and more likely to be Morris’ ultimate firing.
I kinda feel bad for them. Perhaps I should offer some of my mom (the great Karen Clark)’s holiday stuffed shells…
Matt Barkley returning to Southern California is confusing because we know he would have been a potential Top 5 pick in the NFL Draft, but we also know what could be ahead. Heisman Trophy, Pac 12 & BCS Championship hopes and bevies of hot chicks.
I mean, the guy can play Jason Mraz on the guitar. He must be dodging panties every day he walks around Los Angeles. Tough life there…
With the Pats trailing the Miami Dolphins 17-0 at halftime Saturday, Facebook and Twitter were alive in Charm City with hopes of the Ravens still having a shot at the #1 seed in the AFC.
I however looked at my executive producer Ryan Chell and said “when Tom Brady decides to start playing I think they’ll be fine.”
They were. The Pats charged back from the halftime deficit to beat the Fins and are now a win away from clinching the #1 seed in the AFC. Apparently none of that is enough for owner Robert Kraft to get a high five…
Also, this looks like a good holiday film/way to make sure you don’t struggle in the red zone…
Of note for Miami, Reggie Bush remarkably ran for 100+ yards AGAIN in the defeat and we learned this weekend his mom does not want him to get back together with Kim Kardashian. That’s fine, I think Catalina Otalvaro would be a better catch anyway…
• Morgan State will face Mid-American Conference member Ohio in Athens at the Convocation Center on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. (ET). This represents the first regular season meeting between the Bears and Ohio and also the first time MSU has played a member of the Mid-American Conference (MAC).
• MSU is off to an 0-6 start with a road loss at #14/15 Xavier (63-74), a home loss against Murray State (69-80) and losses at UNLV (55-92), USC (62-65) and versus Tennessee State (64-690. The Bears will attempt to avoid its worst start since 2005 when they travel to face the Ohio Bobcats.
• MSU, who led for most of the second half, had a 45-37 advantage with 11:59 left before Tennessee State took over and came away with a 69-64 victory at the Las Vegas Invitational. Kevin Thompson led the Bears (0-6) with 16 points and five rebounds. DeWayne Jackson had 14 and Ian Chiles had 9 points.
• The Bears will play five of its next six games on the road, with its furthest road game coming on January 3rd against the Univ. of San Francisco Dons.
• Kevin Thompson has scored in double-digits in five of six games this season.
• The Bears held a 27-21 advantage on the boards against USC and led 36-28 at halftime.
• Kevin Thompson’s 11 rebound performance at Southern Cal gave him 1,005 rebounds for his career, making him the No. 3 leading rebounder in school history and only the third Morgan State player to post 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in school history.
• The Bears will look to rebound from last year’s fourth place MEAC finish and reclaim the conference title for the fourth time in five years.
• The Bears completed the 2010-11 season with a 17-14 mark and posted a 10-6 conference record.
• Morgan State was selected to win the MEAC Regular Season Title, edging out last year’s MEAC Tournament Champion Hampton. The Bears received eight (8) first place votes and a totaled 616 points to take hold of the conference’s top spot going into the season.
• Morgan State has lost four straight dating back to their loss against Hampton in the MEAC Championship game on March 12,2011.
• Senior point guardLarry Bastfield is the only Bear to have started in every game (31) last season…currently he has started in 37 straight games.
• Junior forward DeWayne Jackson has 881 points,and needs 119 more to become the 21st member of the 1,000-point club at Morgan State.
NOTE ON THE BOBCATS
• Sophomore Nick Kellogg was named to the All-MAC Freshman Team after leading the league in three-point field goal percentage last season at 45.3 percent. Kellogg shot 49 percent from beyond the arc in conference play. He also finished 10th in the league in three-pointers made. The freshman and son of Clark Kellogg, scored a career-high 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting, hitting a career-high six 3-pointers, in a win at MAC Tournament champion Akron.
• Head Coach John Groce is taking part in the Second Annual ‘Shots from the Heart’ tournament, presented by CollegeInsider.com. The event will benefit the Skip Prosser Foundation. The former Wake Forest head coach passed away on July 26, 2007 of a heart attack.
• Ohio had its best shooting game of the year during their 70-68 win against Marshall on Wednesday night. The Bobcats shot 50 percent (29 of 58), while Marshall was 21 of 52 (40.4 percent).
• Junior guard D.J. Cooper (5-11, 165) leads the team in scoring by averaging 14.6 points per game.
PREPARED FOR THE CHALLENGE
• The Bears have put together a challenging non-conference schedule, and currently have one of the toughest schedule in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
• They are one of four MEAC schools to have a strength of schedule in the top-100.
• MSU’s strength of schedule ranks No. 53, North Carolina Central ranks No. 51, Coppin State ranks 32 and Norfolk State ranks 14.