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.
Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…