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To Play or Not to Play

Posted on 27 December 2008 by Brian Billick

The biggest question going into this week’s games, besides who will make the playoffs, is what team will play what players. With all that is on the line for a number of teams in the NFC, the game between the New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings is a perfect “case study” for the coach’s dilemma.

If Minnesota loses and Chicago wins, the Bears will win the division and move on to the playoffs. If Minnesota wins and Chicago loses, the reverse is true. There are some other possibilities for both to get in but they are remote at best.

The New York Giants, on the other hand, have earned home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and are not affected in any way by the outcome of the game.

So what do you do? Do you play the game straight up, as they did last year against the New England Patriots, or do you rest your player this game and use the first-round bye to get healthy for your first game in the Divisional Round?

It talking with Tony Dungy two weeks ago, when I did their game vs. the Detroit Lions, he articulated the dilemma perfectly: “Its like every other decision we make as head coaches. There is no right answer, just the one that works.” If you don’t play your starters, in an effort to get healthy and be at your best in the playoffs, then you come out and are a little flat or rusty, the fans and media will roast you for handling it that way. If you play all your players and hope to keep the momentum you have established in making the playoffs, and one of you good players gets hurt and misses your first playoff game, you are crucified for having played them.

Peyton Manning said he had changed his mind on wanting to play or not based on watching Eli play the previous year and using that as a springboard for their run to the Super Bowl. Robert Mathis said the same thing. When I visited with Dungy he made it clear, “No way.” He just couldn’t justify in his own mind the risk-reward ratio of the player risking injury. If you are Indy, on a 7-game winning streak and primed for the playoffs and Peyton Manning gets hurt, you are done.

I have two problems with sitting a player down. First, how do you tell one player you are important enough that we don’t want to get you hurt in a meaningless game, but then tell the next player I want you to go out there and bust you butt to win the game? Secondly — and this is particularly true in the Giants case — if you do chose to sit Eli Manning down, and you have a bye like the Giants do, that means your quarterback will not take a substantive snap in three weeks.

The players will tell you, for the most part, that they want to play, but will rely on the Head Coach to cover his ass and tell him he can’t. That way he can save face with his teammates, media and fans.

We had the same dilemma in our Super Bowl season when we were facing the New York Jets in our final game. Our playoff status was set and the outcome of the game would have no bearing on it. The Jets, however, needed a win to make the playoffs. We were on a six game winning streak and I don’t think I could have gotten the players to sit even if I wanted to. It ended up being an emotional night with Chris McAlister returning a 90-yard interception for a touchdown and Jermaine Lewis returning two kicks for scores to win the game. I believe that win was a major part of our going into the playoffs on an emotional high and eventually on to the Super Bowl.

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2008 Ravens tribute: “Harmony Reigns”

Posted on 23 December 2008 by Drew Forrester

With only one week remaining in the regular season, the Ravens are on target to return to post-season play for the second time in three seasons.  The only thing standing in their way: a visit from downtrodden Jacksonville this Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

Get ready to celebrate.  There’s no way the Jags come here and beat the Ravens with everything on the line for Baltimore and nothing at stake for J’ville.  If, somehow, Jacksonville does win on Sunday, it goes down as the most disappointing defeat in Ravens history.  Period.  That Indy home playoff loss was a downer, but it WAS a playoff game and the team that beat the Ravens on January 13, 2007 went on to win the Super Bowl.  It wasn’t like a 5-10 team came limping in here ready to mail it in and suddenly found a win to pull the upset of all upsets to keep us out of the playoffs.  That’s the scenario the Jags face on Sunday.  I don’t see it happening.

So, when the Ravens win this Sunday and scoot in as the surprising 6th seed in the AFC, the reflective question of the day will be this: “How’d we do it?”

How did the Ravens go from 5-11 a year ago, with a locker room in complete disarray and a group of mouthy, disgruntled players, to an 11-5 team just 12 months later?

There are some easy answers and some complicated ones, but they all fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.

First off, last year’s team might have finished 5-11, but they weren’t really a 5-11 club.  They lost three games in memorable, completely unexpected (some would say “fluky”) fashion.  One of the losses came at home when Cleveland’s kicker booted a game-tying field goal that hit the goal-post and bounded onto the back stantion, where it promptly bounced forward and was ruled no good.  A review (of sorts) of the play resulted in a change of the call (rightfully) to “good” and the Browns went on to win in overtime.  A few weeks later, Baltimore beat then-undefeated New England except Rex Ryan called a time-out in the game’s final minute…just as the Ravens were stopping the Patriots and their winning streak on 4th down.  Moments later, after New England capitalized on 4th down opportunity #2, Tom Brady threw the game-winning TD and the Pats won a game they had already lost.  And in week #14, ultra-reliable Matt Stover missed a 43-yard field goal in overtime that would have given Baltimore a win at Miami.  

So, a 5-11 team really played more like an 8-8 team.  But 5-11 it was.

Also last year, injuries played havoc with Baltimore’s starting 22 and the depth of the team was fully exposed in the latter stages of the season.  At one point in 2007, 8 of their best players missed at least 20% of the campaign, some even more.  McAlister (knee), Ogden (toe), McNair (everything), Lewis (hand), Rolle (health), Heap (ankle), Pryce (hand) and Wilcox (toe) were all sidelined and their replacements were not only inadequate, but in some cases, liabilities.  Who can ever forget that Indianapolis home game?  Peyton Manning torched the Ravens’ depth-less secondary so much the Baltimore City fire marshal showed up at halftime and issued #18 a citation for outdoor burning.

This year’s team battled injuries early on, but their BEST players, with the exception of Rolle, McAlister and Kelly Gregg, have all played the entire schedule to date: Ray, Flacco, Ngata, Suggs, Reed, Mason (banged up but playing every game somehow…what a warrior), Gaither, Brown, Grubbs, Scott, Pryce…none of those guys have missed extensive time.  It helps when your best players are playing. This year, for the most part, the Ravens best players have been available.

And it also helps when the organization learns from its mistakes.  Depth (lack thereof) was a major reason for last year’s failure, but depth is a big reason why the ’08 version is winning.  When Dawan Landry went down in week #2 with a season ending spinal injury, safety Jim Leonhard stepped in and did the job and then some, earning the respect of everyone with his week-in, week-out hard-nosed style of play.  And when Rolle and McAlister both missed time, newcomer Fabian Washington stepped in admirably at cornerback and even the oft-criticized Frank Walker has been decent enough to warrant a respectful tip of the cap.  Kelly Gregg’s absence hasn’t been felt at all, thanks to a monster year from Ngata and a breakthrough campaign for erstwhile back-up Justin Bannan.  And the triple-threat at running back has given the team different looks and different strengths all season long.  

“Players play, coaches coach” – that’s the old adage.  And it’s true.  But, when dissecting this year’s success, you’d be unfair if you didn’t mention the off-season front office work of George Kokinis, Eric DeCosta and, of course, Ozzie Newsome.  Via the draft and free agency, those three added depth in the secondary and on the offensive and defensive lines.  

John Harbaugh came in a with no-nonsense style that ruffled a feathers at the outset, but as he settled down, so did the discontent.  Coodinators Cameron and Ryan are well respected by the players and they quietly mirror Harbaugh’s confidence that this roster of players is capable of winning big games right away – even with a first-year quarterback at the helm.

But the two main components that contribute to the ’08 Ravens success are the complicated pieces that complete the puzzle.  I’ll call them “Peace and Quiet” for lack of a better term. 

First, and most obviously, it’s at quarterback, where Joe Flacco (“Peace”) has done the unthinkable. He’s gone from leading a Division 1AA school to its post-season to leading an NFL team to the brink of its post-season — all within 12 months.  And he’s done it with a quiet, reserved, hardly-a-pulse manner that has made his teammates believe in him almost from day one in Westminster last summer. Kyle Boller NEVER had the faith of his entire team in five seasons.  Joe Flacco gained it all in about five weeks. 

And without that distraction at quarterback and with the team in harmony both on and off the field, this year’s Ravens have been able to focus on playing football.  And good football, at that.

It’s been awfully “Quiet” this season.  Have you noticed how much bickering has gone on this year? Even when the team stumbled in October and dropped three straight, do you remember any public whining and moaning?  McAlister was involved in a fortnight of controversy with the coach over some misbehaving in Miami, but he suddenly suffered a season ending knee injury (*ahem*) that saved Harbaugh a tough mid-season talk.  And, other than Ed Reed dropping a “we don’t like the way Harbaugh talks down to us…” hint at mid-season, you heard no other negative whispers from the locker room.

No more complaints about the quarterback.  No crying about playing time.  No public campaigning for new contracts, extensions, etc.  No controversies, even on the occasion when results and fortune could have allowed for it.  

When the Ravens got pounded by the Giants in New York, they simply said, “we got beat by a better team today…” – Early in the year they lost a heartbreaker at home to the Titans when Tennessee orchestrated a late drive that was aided in large part by a phantom “blow to the head” call against Terrell Suggs…”we shouldn’t have been in that position…can’t let a good team like that stay in the game” was what the players said afterwards. – And last Sunday after losing to Pittsburgh in dramatic fashion with a goal-line TD call leaving everyone in America wondering about the effectiveness of instant-replay, the Ravens refused to bite: “we just have to go to Dallas and win a football game…we didn’t do the job on that last drive…can’t win many games if you don’t score touchdowns.”  No complaining this year.  No bellyaching about the referees, bad luck, bad coaching, etc.  

This team stayed positive all season long.

Looking for the BEST example of all?  Willis McGahee.  Essentially benched in the late stages of the season for lack of production, #23 took the chance to support his coach by saying, “If I were the coach, I’d bench me too…I’ve played like dog doo-doo.”  Gone are the days of hearing a guy chastising the coaching staff for not getting enough touches on the ball — McGahee took his demotion like a pro and put the team first. It’s been a while since I felt better about a player scoring a touchdown than I did on Saturday night when Willis broke off that 77-yard TD run.  He deserved that more than anyone else on the team.

The topper, though, has to be the unwavering championship play of Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Bart Scott. All three are seeking a new deal and all three are – for the most part – competing with one another for that big cash cow at season’s end.  If Ray gets all the money, Suggs and Scott might not. If Suggs cashes in, Ray and Scott might be looking at giving a purple discount or moving on to another team. Yet, there hasn’t been one – not one – moment where any of those three took the opportunity to bellow about a new deal either here or elsewhere.

It’s a happy house in Owings Mills these days.

The team has won.

The players have played hard.  Injured players have been replaced by guys performing at unexpected levels. And certain players have battled ailments to the extent that it almost looks unhealthy for them to be out there in the first place.

The Ravens have come together as men and played for one goal.

And their focus has been on winning football games.  Nothing else.

Playing time, personal friendships, money, feelings about the coach and his staff…it’s all been put on the side in exchange for trying to win.

It’s been their ’08 success formula.

Let’s hope it carries over for just one more Sunday.

Then everyone starts at 0-0 again and it’s suddenly a 4-game season.

And, based on what I’ve seen over the last four months, I like the Ravens chances in January.

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The Fantasy Flavor Positional Power Rankings – Week 14 QBs

Posted on 03 December 2008 by Thyrl Nelson

Again, there wasn’t much shake up in the quarterback rankings this week. On the bright side, close to half of the top 20 weren’t very highly regarded at draft time, so there could still be a few good options on the waiver wire. The playoffs are here for a lot of us, so make sure to take a look at all of the rankings, as every decision is magnified at this time of the season.


Keep in mind that the power rankings, listed here, are based on year to date performance and not a reflection of your best options for week 14. Just below the power rankings are match up previews advising who should be better or worse than usual this week, based on their opponents. At the bottom, are the week 14 start rankings, that’s where you should look for help with your week 14 lineup decisions.


Week 14 Fantasy Quarterback Power Rankings




QB Power Rankings Archive34567 – 8 – 9 – 1011 – 12 13


(last week’s rankings in parentheses)


1. Drew Brees (1) – NO – 3870 yds 24 TD 14 int & 1 TD rush


2. Tony Romo (3) – DAL – 2559 yds 21 TD 8 int


3. Aaron Rodgers (4) – GB – 2897 yds 20 TD 10 int & 4 TD rush


4. Kurt Warner (2) – AZ – 3741 yds 24 TD 11 int


5. Jay Cutler (5) – DEN – 3393 yds 21 TD 13 int


6. Phillip Rivers (6) – SD – 2955 yds 23 TD 10 int


7. Donavan McNabb (13) – PHI – 3030 yds 18 TD 10 int & 1 TD rush


8. Peyton Manning (7) – IND – 2948 yds 19 TD 12 int & 1 TD rush


9. Matt Cassel (10) – NE – 2784 yds 13 TD 10 int & 2 TD rush


10. Tyler Thigpen (12) – KC – 1739 yds 13 TD 8 int & 1 TD rush & 1 TD rec


11. Shaun Hill (11) – SF – 1067 yds 8 TD 3 int & 1 TD rush


12. Eli Manning (9) – NYG – 2624 yds 19 TD 8 int & 1 TD rush


13. Brett Favre (8) – GB – 2708 yds 20 TD 14 int


14. Chad Pennington (14) – MIA – 2881 yds 11 TD 6 int & 1 TD rush


15. Joe Flacco (16) – BAL – 2276 yds 12 TD 9 int & 2 TD rush


16. David Garrard (15) – JAX – 2748 yds 10 TD 9 int & 1 TD rush


17. Matt Ryan (18) – ATL – 2625 yds 13 TD 6 int


18. Kyle Orton (20) – CHI – 2195 yds 13 TD 7 int & 1 TD rush


19. Jason Campbell (19) – WAS – 2560 yds 10 TD 4 int


20. Jeff Garcia (NR) – TB – 1902 yds 8 TD 3 int


Dropped From Rankings: Trent Edwards – BUF


QBs Who Should Be Better Than Usual In Week 14: Matt Cassel @ SEA; Shaun Hill vs. NYJ; Matt Ryan @ NO; Kurt Warner vs. ST.L; Peyton Manning vs. CIN; Aaron Rodgers vs. HOU


QBs Who Could Be Sleepers Based On Week 14 Match Ups: JaMarcus Russell @ SD; Marc Bulger @ AZ; Gus Frerotte @ DET; Matt Hasselbeck vs. NE


QBs With Tough Week 14 Match Ups: Tony Romo @ PIT; Jake Delhomme vs. TB; Donavan McNabb @ NYG; Eli Manning vs. PHI; Jeff Garcia @ CAR; Phillip Rivers vs. OAK; Sage Rosenfels @ GB


QBs You Might Want To Avoid In Week 14: Ryan Fitzpatrick or Jordan Palmer @ IND; Jason Campbell @ BAL; Ken Dorsey @ TEN


And here are the week 14 Fantasy QB start rankings; it’s all 32 projected starting QBs in the order that you should consider them this week. They were gotten using the Fantasy Flavor secret formula, and have their formulary numbers in parentheses, the lower the better. We’ll get all of the positional rankings out to you in time for Thursday’s game, so keep checking back for the rest.


1. Drew Brees (15)

2. Kurt Warner (15)

3. Aaron Rodgers (16)

4. Shaun Hill (23)

5. Jay Cutler (24)

6. Peyton Manning (24)

7. Matt Cassel (24)

8. Tyler Thigpen (31)

9. Tony Romo (35)

10. Phillip Rivers (36)

11. Brett Favre (38)

12. Matt Ryan (40)

13. Donavan McNabb (41)

14. Chad Pennington (46)

15. Eli Manning (49)

16. Gus Frerotte (50)

17. Joe Flacco (51)

18. David Garrard (52)

19. Kyle Orton (52)

20. Trent Edwards (57)

21. JaMarcus Russell (59)

22. Ben Roethlisberger (61)

23. Matt Hasselbeck (65)

24. Marc Bulger (65)

25. Jeff Garcia (66)

26. Jason Campbell (68)

27. Sage Rosenfels (73) *I’d move him between McNabb & Pennington if it’s Schaub

28. Kerry Collins (73)

29. Jake Delhomme (76)

30. Daunte Culpepper (82)

31. Ryan Fitzpatrick (84) *no difference for Jordan Palmer

32. Ken Dorsey (93)


All of the rankings will be up in time for you to get your Thursday lineups in, so check back tomorrow for the rest. And use the links below to check all of the other positions; they’ll be activated as they become available.







Week 14 RB Rankings & Previews


Week 14 WR Rankings & Previews


Week 14 TE Rankings & Previews


Week 14 K Rankings & Previews


Week 14 D/ST Rankings & Previews





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Ravens @ Bengals – Your Predictions

Posted on 28 November 2008 by Alex Thomas

I hope all of our WNST.net listeners had a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving. Put the leftovers down for a second and let’s talk some Ravens football.

The Ravens are coming off of a big statement game. By crushing the Eagles 36-7, they announced to the entire league that they are for real in the volatile AFC playoff race. The league has recognized this team’s competitiveness by moving the Ravens/Redskins match-up to prime time in two weeks, and have also announced that they will move the Ravens/Steelers game in week 15 to 4:15. Of course, if you’re subscribed to the WNST text service, you already know that.

The NFL wants to give this team some national attention, mainly because of a stout defense and a rookie quarterback who looks more promising than Peyton Manning did back in 1998. I don’t know about you, but this makes me awfully proud to drink the purple kool aid.

Let’s hope the Ravens abide by John Harbaugh’s philosophy: take it one game at a time. If they over-look the Bengals, the Ravens will go from a conference title contender in a wide-open AFC to: “we knew this team wasn’t for real. They’ve only beat bad football teams, and now they can’t take care of business in their own division.”

My prediction: If it weren’t for another special teams debacle, the Ravens would have shut out the Eagles. That New York loss truly woke a sleeping giant. The Bengals can’t rush the passer or stop the run. The Bengals offensive line has left QB Ryan Fitzpatrick vulnerable all season. Even though it’s a division game on the road, I can’t see any way the Ravens lose this match-up. Special teams folds again and gives up a big play that leads to a touchdown, but that’s about all the Bengals can muster in this game. A couple of early Ravens scores makes the 1-9-1 Bengals hang their heads and give up on the game.

Ravens – 32

Bengals – 13

Pivotal match-up: Joe Flacco vs. Bengals Defense. The only way the Ravens lose this game is if the Ravens turn the ball over too much or commit too many penalties. The key to this game is for Joe Flacco to protect the rock.

Where it could all go wrong: The zebras get flag-happy; a desperate Bengals team treats this like a playoff game and surprises the league; the secondary plays soft and allows Houshmandzadeh and Johnson to have a field day. Fellow Calvert Hall Cardinal Bob Haynie said it best: “the only way the Ravens get beat this game is if they beat themselves.”

Surprising statistic: When Flacco doesn’t throw an interception the Ravens are 6-1. When he doesn’t take care of the football, the Ravens are 1-3.

Last Week’s winner: Polostat was one of the few fans out there who predicted an easy Ravens win, predicting a 28-17 Ravens victory. My pick: 23-16 Ravens. Actual score: 36-7 Ravens.

Week 11 winner: would have been Ravenator if he would have picked the Giants to win, but the check mark goes to Johnny Rocket, who predicted a 31-11 Ravens loss. My pick: 23-20 Giants. Actual score: 30-10 Giants.

Week 10 Winner: My man Franchise gets the check mark, predicting a 31-10 Ravens victory. Remember when Ozzie Newsome was getting verbally crucified on the airwaves? I guess all of us should trust the Franchise. My pick: 29-12 Ravens. Actual Score: 41-13 Ravens.

Week 9 Winner: Johnny Rocket picked the closest score, predicting a 22-16 Ravens win. I don’t think anyone could have predicted the Ravens to put up 37 points on the road. My pick: 23-17 Browns. Actual score: 37-27 Ravens.

Week 8 winner: Nestminder is our first back-to-back winner, picking the Ravens to win 24-6. We had a record-low in the number of predictions received, but we can rebound this week. We’ll chalk that one up to the new website. My pick: 27-6 Ravens. Actual score: 29-10 Ravens

Week 7 winner: Nestminder picked a 20-13 Ravens victory and Polostat was a close second. My pick: 24-16 Ravens. Actual score: 27-13 Ravens.

Week 6 winner: Johnny Rocket correctly picked against the Ravens, per usual, predicting a 32-8 Colts victory. My pick: 28-23 Colts. Actual score: 31-3 Colts.

Week 5 winner: Columbia Ken picked the closest score, predicting a 17-13 Titans victory. My pick: 17-9 Ravens. Actual score: 13-10 Titans

Week 4 winner: Jon R. reluctantly picked a 24-20 win for the Steelers. My pick: 13-10 Ravens. Actual score: 23-20 Steelers (OT)

Week 3 winner: EazyE picked a 23-13 win for the Ravens vs. Cleveland. My pick: 23-13 Ravens. Actual score: 24-10 Ravens.

What are your predictions this week?

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The Fantasy Flavor Positional Power Rankings – Week 13 QBs

Posted on 26 November 2008 by Thyrl Nelson

There’s not a lot of shake up in this week’s QB rankings, There are however plenty of quarterbacks among the top twenty who were overlooked on draft day and through much of the season. In fact, there’s a decent chance that you’ll still be able to find one of these top 20 still on your league’s waiver wire. There are 3 games on tap for Thursday this week, so we’ll have all of the rankings out in time to set your lineups well before the first kickoff on Thanksgiving Day.


Keep in mind that the power rankings, listed here, are based on year to date performance and not a reflection of your best options for week 13. Just below the power rankings are match up previews advising who should be better or worse than usual this week, based on their opponents. At the bottom, are the week 13 start rankings, that’s where you should look for help with your week 13 lineup decisions.


Week 13 Fantasy Quarterback Power Rankings


QB Power Rankings Archive34567 – 8 – 9 – 1011 – 12


(last week’s rankings in parentheses)


1. Drew Brees (2) – NO – 3574 yds 22 TD 11 int & 1 TD rush


2. Kurt Warner (1) – AZ – 3506 yds 21 TD 8 int


3. Tony Romo (6) – DAL – 2228 yds 18 TD 7 int & 1 TD rush


4. Aaron Rodgers (5) – GB – 2599 yds 17 TD 9 int & 4 TD rush


5. Jay Cutler (3) – DEN – 3036 yds 19 TD 12 int


6. Phillip Rivers (4) – SD – 2806 yds 23 TD 10 int


7. Peyton Manning (7) – IND – 2823 yds 19 TD 10 int & 1 TD rush


8. Brett Favre (9) – NYJ – 2461 yds 20 TD 13 int


9. Eli Manning (11) – NYG – 2319 yds 18 TD 7 int & 1 TD rush


10. Matt Cassel (10) – NE – 2615 yds 13 TD 8 int & 2 TD rush


11. Shaun Hill (15) – SF – 906 yds 7 TD 3 int & 1 TD rush


12. Tyler Thigpen (16) – KC – 1577 yds 13 TD 7 int & 1 TD rush, 1 TD rec


13. Donavan McNabb (8) – PHI – 2770 yds 14 TD 10 int & 1 TD rush


14. Chad Pennington (19) – MIA – 2715 yds 11 TD 6 int & 1 TD rush


15. David Garrard (13) – JAX – 2461 yds 9 TD 8 int & 1 TD rush


16. Joe Flacco (18) – BAL – 1996 yds 10 TD 9 int & 2 TD rush


17. Trent Edwards (NR) – BUF – 2266 yds 10 TD 10 int & 3 TD rush


18. Matt Ryan (14) – ATL – 2418 yds 11 TD 6 int


19. Jason Campbell (20) – WAS – 2328 yds 10 TD 3 int


20. Kyle Orton (12) – CHI – 2049 yds 11 TD 4 int & 1 TD rush


Dropped From Rankings: Gus Frerotte – MIN


QBs Who Should Be Better Than Usual In Week 13: Tony Romo vs. SEA; Kyle Orton @ MIN; Jay Cutler @ NYJ; Brett Favre vs. DEN; Donavan McNabb vs. AZ; Matt Ryan @ SD; Chad Pennington @ ST.L


QBs Who Could Be Sleepers Based on Week 13 Match Ups: Kerry Collins @ DET; Jeff Garcia vs. NO; Trent Edwards vs. SF


QBs With Tough Week 13 Match Ups: Matt Cassel vs. PIT; Aaron Rodgers vs. CAR; Drew Brees @ TB; Kurt Warner @ PHI; Jason Campbell vs. NYG; Eli Manning @ WAS


QBs You Might Want To Avoid In Week 13: Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson vs. IND; Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. BAL; Daunte Culpepper or Drew Stanton vs. TEN; Jake Delhomme @ GB


And here are the week 13 Fantasy QB start rankings; it’s all 32 projected starters in the order that you should consider them this week. They were gotten using the Fantasy Flavor secret formula, and have their formulary numbers in parentheses, the lower the better. We’ll get all of the positional rankings out to you in time for Thursday’s games, so keep checking back for the rest.


1. Tony Romo (9)

2. Jay Cutler (17)

3. Phillip Rivers (24)

4. Drew Brees (30)

5. Kurt Warner (30)

6. Donavan McNabb (31)

7. Brett Favre (32)

8. Shaun Hill (33)

9. Chad Pennington (33)

10. Peyton Manning (34)

11. Aaron Rodgers (35)

12. Matt Ryan (37)

13. David Garrard (41)

14. Tyler Thigpen (42)

15. Trent Edwards (44)

16. Jeff Garcia (46)

17. Matt Cassel (47)

18. Joe Flacco (47)

19. Eli Manning (49)

20. Kerry Collins (56)

21. Ben Roethlisberger (57)

22. Kyle Orton (60)

23. Jason Campbell (63)

24. Sage Rosenfels (64)

25. Jake Delhomme (70)

26. Marc Bulger (70)

27. Gus Frerotte (71)

28. JaMarcus Russell (72)

29. Matt Hasselbeck (77)

30. Ryan Fitzpatrick (83)

31. Brady Quinn / Derek Anderson (88)

32. Daunte Culpepper / Drew Stanton (92)


All of the rankings will be up in time for you to get your Thursday lineups in, so keep checking back. You can use the links below to check all of the other positions; they’ll be activated as they become available.







Week 13 RB Rankings & Previews


Week 13 WR Rankings & Previews


Week 13 TE Rankings & Previews


Week 13 K Rankings & Previews


Week 13 D/ST Rankings & Previews



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Week 12 Fantasy Start Rankings – Every Position

Posted on 20 November 2008 by Thyrl Nelson

Just for the sake of making everything easier, I’ve decided to post the week 12 Fantasy Start Rankings for all 6 positions in one place. It’s the same start rankings that you can find on the bottoms of each of the Positional Power Rankings for week 12. You can locate those power rankings by using the links at the bottom of this page too.


Listed below are the formulary start rankings for each of the 6 positions, with their formulary number listed in parentheses next to them. The formulary rankings are gotten using the “secret fantasy flavor formula”, it’s basically 2 parts player performance, 1 part defensive expectations against them this week, with a few variables thrown in for injuries and anomalies.


As news becomes available over the course of the weekend, I’ll make notes here too, so keep checking back. And at the end of the day, trust your gut, and have fun. That’s why we play the games after all anyway. And good luck to you this week as the playoffs approach.




1. Peyton Manning (15) @SD

2. Aaron Rodgers (21) @ NO

3. Jay Cutler (22) vs. OAK

4. Tony Romo (22) vs. SF

5. Kurt Warner (29) vs. NYG

6. Shaun Hill (31) @ DAL

7. Brady Quinn (31) vs. HOU

8. Drew Brees (35) vs. GB

9. Eli Manning (36) @ AZ

10. Phillip Rivers (40) vs. IND

11. Matt Cassel (40) @ MIA

12. Kyle Orton (42) @ ST.L

13. Tyler Thigpen (43) vs. BUF

14. Gus Frerotte (43) @ JAX

15. Jeff Garcia (44) @ DET

16. Donavan McNabb (45) @ BAL

17. Jason Campbell (48) @ SEA

18. David Garrard (52) vs. MIN

19. Brett Favre (53) @ TEN

20. Chad Pennington (57) vs. NE

21. Sage Rosenfels (61) @ CLE

22. Kerry Collins (61) vs. NYJ

23. Matt Ryan (62) vs. CAR

24. Joe Flacco (64) vs. PHI

25. Jake Delhomme (68) @ ATL

26. Ben Roethlisberger (69) vs. CIN

27. JaMarcus Russell (70) @ DEN*about the same if it’s Walter or Tuisasopo

28. Trent Edwards (78) @ KC

29. Marc Bulger (78) vs. CHI

30. Ryan Fitzpatrick (81) @ PIT

31. Daunte Culpepper (86) vs. TB

32. Matt Hasselbeck (87) vs. WAS





1. Clinton Portis (19) @ SEA

2. Adrian Peterson (22) @ JAX

3. Matt Forte (22) @ ST.L

4. Frank Gore (23) @ DAL

5. Marion Barber (27) vs. SF

6. Thomas Jones (28) @ TEN

7. Reggie Bush (32) vs. GB

8. Brian Westbrook (33) @ BAL

9. Willie Parker (34) vs. CIN

10. Brandon Jacobs (35) @ AZ *watch his injury status

11. Marshawn Lynch (37) @ KC

12. LaDanian Tomlinson (38) vs. IND

13. Michael Turner (43) vs. CAR

14. DeAngelo Williams (43) @ ATL

15. Steve Slaton (45) @ CLE

16. Maurice Jones-Drew (46) vs. MIN

17. Ronnie Brown (48) vs. NE

18. Jamal Lewis (51) vs. HOU

19. Chris Johnson (56) vs. NYJ

20. Larry Johnson (56) vs. BUF

21. Steven Jackson (60) vs. CHI *keep an eye on his status

22. Joseph Addai (65)@ SD

23. LenDale White (66) vs. NYJ

24. Ryan Grant (69) @ NO

25. Darren McFadden (71) @ DEN

26. Jonathan Stewart (73) @ ATL

27. Warrick Dunn (74) @ DET

28. Sammy Morris (76) @ MIA

29. Mewelde Moore (77) vs. CIN

30. Tim Hightower (78) vs. NYG

31. Kevin Smith (79) vs. TB

32. Willis McGahee (83) vs. PHI *keep an eye on his status

33. Deuce McAllister (84) vs. GB

34. Derrick Ward (85) @ AZ

35. Ahman Green (85) @ CLE

36. LeRon McClain (87) vs. PHI *bump 2 or 3 spots if McGahee can’t go

37. Jerome Harrison (87) vs. HOU

38. Peyton Hillis (89) vs. OAK

39. Justin Fargas (95)vs. DEN *bump 15 spots if McFadden can’t go

40. Ray Rice (97) vs. PHI *keep him here regardless of McGahee’s status

41. Dominic Rhodes (97) @ SD

42. Jerious Norwood (99) vs. CAR

43. Julius Jones (99) vs. WAS

44. Leon Washington (100) @ TEN

45. Antonio Pittman (102) vs. CHI *bump 8 to 10 spots if Steven Jackson can’t go

46. BenJarvis Green-Ellis (104) @ MIA

47. Ricky Williams (106) vs. NE

48. Chester Taylor (112) @ JAX

49. Kevin Faulk (114) @ MIA

50. Kenneth Darby (114) vs. CHI *bump 3 or 4 spots if Jackson can’t go






1. Santana Moss (11) @ SEA

2. Anquan Boldin (15) vs. NYG

3. Larry Fitzgerald (17) vs. NYG

4. Greg Jennings (20) @ NO

5. Andre Johnson (25) @ CLE

6. Bernard Berrian (27) @ JAX

7. Steve Smith (29) *CAR @ ATL

8. Calvin Johnson (32) vs. TB

9. Roddy White (34) vs. CAR

10. Reggie Wayne (34) @ SD

11. Hines Ward (38) vs. CIN

12. Kevin Walter (41) @ CLE

13. Brandon Marshall (45) vs. OAK

14. Justin Gage (45) vs. NYJ

15. Terrell Owens (48) vs. SF

16. Eddie Royal (49) vs. OAK

17. DeWayne Bowe (49) vs. BUF

18. Randy Moss (50) @ MIA

19. Lee Evans (56) @ KC

20. Antonio Bryant (59) @ DET

21. TJ Houshmandzadeh (60) @ PIT

22. Donnie Avery (63) vs. CHI

23. Lance Moore (67) vs. GB

24. Vincent Jackson (68) vs. IND

25. Wes Welker (68) @ MIA

26. DeSean Jackson (69) @ BAL

27. Plaxico Burress (74) @ AZ

28. Donald Driver (76) @ NO

29. Braylon Edwards (77) vs. HOU

30. Chris Chambers (80) vs. IND

31. Laverneus Coles (81) @ TEN

32. Jehrrico Cotchery (83) @ TEN

33. Matt Jones (84) vs. MIN

34. Mushin Muhammad (91) @ ATL

35. Derrick Mason (92) vs. PHI *watch his injury status

36. DeVery Henderson (95) vs. GB

37. Steve Breaston (95) vs. NYG

38. Issac Bruce (98) @ DAL

39. Brandon Lloyd (98) @ ATL

40. Mark Bradley (101) vs. BUF

41. Nate Washington (104) vs. CIN

42. Kevin Curtis (105) @ BAL

43. Ted Ginn Jr. (109) vs. NE

44. Sinorice Moss (110) @ AZ

45. Michael Jenkins (116) vs. CAR

46. Santonio Holmes (117) vs. CIN

47. Marvin Harrison (118) @ SD

48. Greg Camarillo (121) vs. NE

49. Malcolm Floyd (124) vs. IND

50. Ricky Williams (124) vs. NE

51. Antoine Randle-El (127) @ SEA

52. Anthony Gonzalez (128) @ SD

53. Rasheid Davis (132) @ ST.L

54. Tory Holt (133) vs. CHI

55. Bryant Johnson (134) @ DAL

56. Jabar Gafney (134) @ MIA

57. Hank Baskett (135) vs. BAL

58. Amani Toomer (136) @ AZ

59. Marques Colston (137) vs. GB

60. Chad Johnson (140) @ PIT *out insert Chris Henry here

61. Patrick Crayton (140) vs. SF

62. Devin Hester (144) @ ST.L

63. Koren Robinson (149) vs. WAS

64. Bobby Wade (151) @ JAX

65. Myles Austin (152) vs. SF  out

66. Sidney Rice (153) @ JAX

67. Marty Booker (156) @ ST.L

68. Deion Branch (157) vs. WAS

69. Ike Hilliard (161) @ DET

70. Reggie Brown (163) @ BAL

71. Chansi Stuckey (165) @ TEN

72. John Standeford (170) vs. TB

73. Brandon Stokley (171) vs. OAK

74. Mike Walker (174) @ DET

75. Steve Smith (174)*NYG @ AZ





1. Dallas Clark (13) @ SD

2. Kellen Winslow Jr. (15) vs. HOU

3. Tony Scheffler (20) vs. OAK

4. Bo Scaife (24) vs. NYJ

5. Antonio Gates (28) vs. IND

6. Owen Daniels (29) @ CLE

7. Tony Gonzalez (33) vs. BUF

8. Kevin Boss (34) @ AZ

9. Anthony Fasano (34) vs. NE

10. Dustin Keller (34) @ TEN

11. Zach Miller (34) @ DEN

12. Billy Miller (38) vs. GB

13. Jerramy Stevens (39) @ DET

14. Jason Witten (42) vs. SF

15. Visanthe Schiancoe (43) @ JAX

16. Chris Cooley (45) @ SEA

17. Greg Olsen (53) @ ST.L

18. Alex Smith (53) @ DET

19. Mercedes Lewis (55) vs. MIN

20. Todd Heap (55) vs. PHI

21. Tom Santi (61) @ SD

22. John Carlson (63) vs. WAS

23. Daniel Graham (64) @ CLE

24. LJ Smith (66) @ BAL

25. Derek Fine (69) @ KC

26. Steve Heiden (73) vs. HOU

27. Vernon Davis (76) @ DAL

28. Dante Rosario (78) @ ATL

29. Donald Lee (79) @ NO

30. Heath Miller (80) vs. CIN

31. Martellus Bennett (80) vs. SF

32. Brent Celek (80) @ BAL

33. David Martin (80) vs. NE

34. Alge Crumpler (80) vs. NYJ

35. Jeremy Shockey (82) vs. GB





1. Mason Crosby (16) @ NO

2. Garrett Hartley (16) vs. GB

3. Stephen Gostkowski (24) @ MIA

4. Matt Bryant (26) @ DET

5. Phil Dawson (29) vs. HOU

6. David Akers (30) @ BAL

7. Lawrence Tynes (32) @ AZ *no difference if it’s Carney

8. Rian Lindell (33) @ KC

9. Jason Elam (36) vs. CAR

10. Shaun Suisham (36) @ SEA

11. Nate Kaeding (39) vs. IND

12. Joe Nedney (41) @ DAL

13. Matt Prater (44) vs. CAR

14. Jay Feeley (46) @ TEN

15. Ryan Longwell (46) @ JAX

16. Robbie Gould (46) @ ST.L

17. Rob Bironas (47) vs. NYJ

18. Sebastian Janikowski (48) @ DEN

19. Josh Brown (50) vs. CHI

20. Neil Rackers (54) vs. NYG

21. Josh Scobee (58) vs. MIN

22. John Kasay (61) @ ATL

23. Jeff Reed (61) vs. CIN

24. Nick Folk (65) vs. SF

25. Jason Hanson (69) vs. TB

26. Connor Barth (69) vs. BUF

27. Matt Stover (71) vs. PHI

28. Olindo Mare (75) vs. WAS

29. Kris Brown (77) @ CLE

30. Adam Vinatieri (77) @ SD

31. Shayne Graham (79) @ PIT

32. Dan Carpenter (83) vs. NE





1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7) @ DET

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (16) vs. CIN

3. Chicago Bears (21) @ ST.L

4. Green Bay Packers (27) @ NO

5. Philadelphia Eagles (27) @ BAL

6. Tennessee Titans (30) vs. NYJ

7. New York Jets (36) @ TEN

8. New York Giants (37) @ AZ

9. Baltimore Ravens (42) vs. PHI

10. Miami Dolphins (42) vs. NE

11. Seattle Seahawks (42) vs. WAS

12. San Francisco 49ers (43) @ DAL

13. Dallas Cowboys (43) vs. SF

14. Jacksonville Jaguars (44) vs. MIN

15. Cleveland Browns (46) vs. HOU

16. Minnesota Vikings (48) @ JAX

17. Oakland Raiders (49) @ DEN

18. Atlanta Falcons (50) vs. CAR

19. Buffalo Bills (50) @ KC

20. Arizona Cardinals (51) vs. NYG

21. Carolina Panthers (52) @ ATL

22. Washington Redskins (58) @ SEA

23. Kansas City Chiefs (63) vs. BUF

24. New England Patriots (65) @ MIA

25. Cincinnati Bengals (67) @ PIT

26. Denver Broncos (67) vs. OAK

27. San Diego Chargers (68) vs. IND

28. New Orleans Saints (72) vs. GB

29. Indianapolis Colts (73) @ SD

30. Houston Texans (80) @ CLE

31. St. Louis Rams (81) vs. CHI

32. Detroit Lions (87) vs. TB



Week 12 Fantasy QB Rankings and Previews


Week 12 Fantasy RB Rankings and Previews


Week 12 Fantasy WR Rankings and Previews


Week 12 Fantasy TE Rankings and Previews


Week 12 Fantasy K Rankings and Previews


Week 12 Fantasy D/ST Rankings and Previews







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The Fantasy Flavor Positional Power Rankings – Week 12 QBs

Posted on 19 November 2008 by Thyrl Nelson

Here are this week’s Fantasy Flavor Quarterback Power Rankings for week 12. There wasn’t a lot of movement within the top ten, and at this point in the season, barring injury, there likely won’t be. The bottom half of the top 20 is full of upstarts, rookies and fill ins. Both Tony Romo and Kyle Orton returned to action, and to the top 20 this week, and Shaun Hill has worked his way in as well, and could prove to be a valuable stretch run addition.


Keep in mind that the power rankings, listed here, are based on year to date performance and not a reflection of your best options for week 12. Just below the power rankings are match up previews advising who should be better or worse than usual this week, based on their opponents. At the bottom, are the week 12 start rankings, that’s where you should look for help with your week 12 lineup decisions.


Week 12 Fantasy Quarterback Power Rankings


QB Power Rankings Archive34567 – 8 – 9 – 1011


(last week’s rankings in parentheses)


1. Kurt Warner (3) – AZ – 3155 yds 20 TD 7 int


2. Drew Brees (2) – NO – 3251 yds 18 TD 11 int


3. Jay Cutler (1) – DEN – 2832 yds 19 TD 11 int


4. Phillip Rivers (4) – SD – 2513 yds 21 TD 10 int


5. Aaron Rodgers (5) – GB – 2351 yds 15 TD 6 int & 3 rush TD


6. Tony Romo (NR) – DAL – 1887 yds 15 TD 7 int


7. Peyton Manning (6) – IND – 2568 yds 17 TD 9 int & 1 rush TD


8. Donavan McNabb (7) – PHI – 2711 yds 14 TD 8 int & 1 rush TD


9. Brett Favre (9) – NYJ – 2237 yds 18 TD 12 int


10. Matt Cassel (18) – NE – 2200 yds 10 TD 7 int & 1 rush TD


11. Eli Manning (8) – NYG – 2079 yds 15 TD 7 int & 1 rush TD


12. Kyle Orton (NR) – CHI – 1910 yds 10 TD 4 int & 1 rush TD


13. David Garrard (10) – JAX – 2144 yds 8 TD 6 int & 1 rush TD


14. Matt Ryan (12) – ATL – 2159 yds 11 TD 6 int


15. Shaun Hill (NR) – SF – 1731 yds 5 TD 2 int & 1 rush TD


16. Tyler Thigpen (17) – KC – 1337 yds 10 TD 5 int & 1 rush TD


17. Gus Frerotte (13) – MIN – 1557 yds 11 TD 11 int


18. Joe Flacco (16) – BAL – 1813 yds 8 TD 9 int & 2 rush TD


19. Chad Pennington (11) – MIA – 2374 yds 8 TD 5 int


20. Jason Campbell (14) – WAS – 2122 yds 9 TD 3 int


Dropped from Rankings: Jeff Garcia – TB; Jake Delhomme – CAR; Ben Roethlisberger – PIT


QBs Who Should Be Better Than Usual in Week 12: Peyton Manning @ SD; Kyle Orton @ ST.L; Aaron Rodgers @ NO; Eli Manning @ AZ; Gus Frerotte @ JAX


QBs Who Could Be Sleepers Based on Week 12 Match Ups: Jeff Garcia @ DET; Brady Quinn vs. HOU; Jason Campbell @ SEA; JaMarcus Russell @ DEN; Kerry Collins vs. NYJ


QBs With Tough Week 12 Match Ups: Phillip Rivers vs. IND; Brett Favre @ TEN; Drew Brees vs. GB; Donavan McNabb @ BAL; Kurt Warner vs. NYG; Daunte Culpepper vs. TB; Tyler Thigpen vs. BUF


QBs You Might Want To Avoid In Week 12: Ryan Fitzpatrick @ PIT; Matt Ryan vs. CAR; Joe Flacco vs. PHI


And here are the week 12 Fantasy QB start rankings; it’s all 32 projected starters in the order that you should consider them this week. They were gotten using the Fantasy Flavor secret formula, and have their formulary numbers in parentheses, the lower the better. We’ll get all of the positional rankings out to you in time for the Thursday night game, so keep checking back for the rest.


1. Peyton Manning (15)

2. Aaron Rodgers (21)

3. Jay Cutler (22)

4. Tony Romo (22)

5. Kurt Warner (29)

6. Shaun Hill (31)

7. Brady Quinn (31)

8. Drew Brees (35)

9. Eli Manning (36)

10. Phillip Rivers (40)

11. Matt Cassel (40)

12. Kyle Orton (42)

13. Tyler Thigpen (43)

14. Gus Frerotte (43)

15. Jeff Garcia (44)

16. Donavan McNabb (45)

17. Jason Campbell (48)

18. David Garrard (52)

19. Brett Favre (53)

20. Chad Pennington (57)

21. Sage Rosenfels (61)

22. Kerry Collins (61)

23. Matt Ryan (62)

24. Joe Flacco (64)

25. Jake Delhomme (68)

26. Ben Roethlisberger (69)

27. JaMarcus Russell (70) *about the same if it’s Walter or Tuisasopo

28. Trent Edwards (78)

29. Marc Bulger (78)

30. Ryan Fitzpatrick (81)

31. Daunte Culpepper (86)

32. Matt Hasselbeck (87)


All of the rankings will be up in time for you to get your Thursday’s lineups in, so keep checking back. You can use the links below to check all of the other positions; they’ll be activated as they become available.






Week 12 RB Rankings and Previews


Week 12 WR Rankings and Previews


Week 12 TE Rankings and Previews


Week 12 K Rankings and Previews


Week 12 D/ST Rankings and Previews

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Need For A Quality Win Still Defines Ravens Season

Posted on 17 November 2008 by Thyrl Nelson

Even if you’re someone who believes in good losses or moral victories, which I’m not by the way, you wouldn’t make an argument that the Ravens’ 30-10 undressing at the hands of the Giants on Sunday was either. The offensive juggernaut that was the “New Look” Baltimore Ravens for the past few weeks came crashing back to earth in a most humiliating fashion, in what was likely the Ravens final visit ever to the Meadowlands.


If you’re looking for a bright side, well then you’d have to look pretty deep. But I’d say that if there’s a positive spin to be put on the season as a whole at this point, it’s that championship teams are usually dealing with adversity and working out their issues at this time of year. As close as the Patriots came last season, you just don’t see teams dominate a season in today’s NFL from start to finish.


Look no further than the team that dismantled the Ravens on Sunday. At this time last season, the Giants were floundering. Eli Manning was struggling to get his team into the end zone, Brandon Jacobs was unable to stay healthy for a prolonged stretch, and the Giants couldn’t seem to beat anyone at home. Those Giants did just enough to be in position for the playoffs, and then took matters into their own hands from there. Outside of the Giants locker room, few believed that their week 17 showdown with the Patriots was a Superbowl preview.


If having struggles to overcome midseason is the precursor to postseason success, then the Ravens have a lot to be happy about. Because as good as they’ve been at times during this season, the Ravens have demons to overcome and questions to be answered on every side of the ball. Ready or not, the Ravens have positioned themselves right into the middle of the AFC playoff picture, and injuries and inexperience will not be an excuse, should they play themselves back out of contention.


On offense, the line has been makeshift, yet remains one of the pleasant surprises and true bright spots of this young team. They’ve done a much better than expected job of protecting Joe Flacco, and opening lanes for their three-headed running attack. Flacco, the rookie QB, is progressing much more quickly than almost anyone would have expected. And the creativity in the running and passing games has brought new life to the Ravens offense and their downfield potential.


Todd Heap however, has been surprisingly all but non-existent in the passing game this season. And in a match up this week, that seemed to set the table for Heap to find his role in the passing game, the Ravens elected to lean on a one-armed Derrick Mason as their primary passing target, over an able-bodied Heap and Mark Clayton. And while Mason, the unsung hero Flacco’s rapid development, deserves to be commended for gutting it out through his shoulder injury, clearly his one-armed status was a hindrance, and probably cost his young QB an interception too. The single wing offense has been dangerous this season, but a single winged wide receiver is probably best left to heal on the sideline.


Speaking of healing on the sideline, it appears that Willis McGahee could benefit from a little bit of Derrick Mason’s heart. Whether McGahee’s inability to stay in the lineup is a result of rushing him back too quickly, or his body simply breaking down, or an inability for him to stay interested in playing for prolonged stretches, it has to be of major concern to the Ravens going forward. Even last season, McGahee was unavailable at the ends of close crucial losses to Buffalo and New England. LeRon McClain and Ray Rice have definitely been pleasant surprises to this point, but without a reliable McGahee down the stretch, Flacco will have his hands full with the defensive pressure that he’ll likely be seeing.


On defense, the numbers are there, although the numbers took a little hit on Sunday too. But the Ravens have allowed crucial drives to allow points at the ends of halves and games that raise doubts about their status as an elite defense, like others that we’ve seen here in the past. And that was before Brandon Jacobs and his band of merry men ran all over the Ravens on Sunday. The secondary has held together remarkably in the face of numerous injuries, but maybe Sunday gave a glimpse as to why. Maybe the defense’s need to lend help to the secondary in coverage is taking away from the pass rush, and now maybe the ability to stop the run as well.


Bart Scott and Trevor Pryce have been all but invisible at times so far and Ed Reed is clearly just a shell of the player that we’ve come to expect prowling this secondary. At this point in the season, Reed has just 2 games with more than 2 tackles; he has just one interception on the season and just 6 pass deflections through ten games. Say what you want about teams throwing away from him, but if that were the case, defending half the field would be easy for the rest of the secondary. Teams are throwing at the Ravens all over the field, even at Ed Reed, plus he’s been thrown off of tackle attempts by ball carriers more than I can ever recall seeing from Reed in the past.


The fact that players aren’t even looking to pitch their interceptions to him this season may be a subtle indication of where Reed is health-wise. His reputation may be all that is sustaining him at this point. I’m sure that offensive coordinators are still preparing as if this is the Ed Reed of old, but clearly he isn’t. For a while, I wanted to believe that Harbaugh was just being prudent with Reed, guarding him from injury. But if Ed Reed isn’t making big plays, then he’s not Ed Reed. And if he’s not healthy enough to be put into a position to make those plays, then he certainly doesn’t belong returning kicks.


Perhaps the biggest reasons of all for concern, and also the ones least likely to change anytime soon, have been some questionable coaching decisions by our rookie head coach. Believe me, I’m not on the “Fire Harbaugh” Bandwagon, or even a basher at this point. Clearly Harbaugh has taken control of the attitude of this locker room, and brought back a winning mentality that may not have been possible this quickly under the old regime. But if you thought that Brain Billick was a curious manager of the clock, then like me, you must have been scratching your head at a number of timeouts, punts on short fields, missed challenge opportunities and curious end game clock usage by Harbaugh so far.


Some of this could likely be chalked up to the learning curve of a rookie head coach. Some of it can also probably be linked to the lack of depth and/or talent provided to him at certain key positions. But like it or not, Harbaugh’s learning curve, like that of his young QB, is happening right in the middle of the playoff chase. And the fans are going to be no more forgiving to Harbaugh, or Flacco for that matter than they were to Boller once upon a time in similar circumstances. So far, Flacco seems to be handling it much better than his young coach.


We all looked at the schedule with dread before the season began, and we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that this team has performed well beyond reasonable expectations already. But the bar doesn’t go back down, and it’s been set pretty high at this point. Most expected the Ravens to win one game that it looked like they shouldn’t, and lose one the same way too. So far they’ve beaten what you’d call the “bad teams” that they’ve played, and came up short against the “good ones”. Close losses to Pittsburgh and Tennessee led most to believe that the Ravens could beat those types of teams, but so far, no luck.


The remaining schedule will provide them with lots more opportunities to pick up that elusive “quality win”. But if they want to contend for the playoffs, they’ll probably need to pick up a few. Quality wins would likely provide the confidence that this team needs to go into the playoffs with a head of steam. If the team is able to get back on track they’ll likely be better for having had to suffer this embarrassing defeat, but if they’re not, this will likely mark the beginning of the end for this season.


Next week provides Harbaugh and the Raven a fresh opportunity, back in a friendly environment to pick up that elusive quality win that would define the Ravens as true contenders. Given the decade of service that Harbaugh has in Andy Reid’s system, and his intricate knowledge of their strengths and tendencies, I’m looking at this week’s match up with the Eagles as a big test and a big opportunity for Harbaugh. With two teams of seemingly similar talent on the field, playing here in Baltimore next week, Harbaugh has a chance to coach his team to a win in this one. Doing it would go a long way toward burying the memory of yesterday’s massacre at the Meadowlands right where it belongs, right next to Jimmy Hoffa.





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A Giant butt kicking today in New Jersey…

Posted on 16 November 2008 by Drew Forrester

In a game that truly was a tale of two halves, the Ravens were completely and physically humbled in the first half but rebounded to give a spirited second half account of themselves before losing to the Giants at the Meadowlands. 

In fact, the game was very much in the balance until Derrick Mason failed to hold on to a Joe Flacco throw late in the 3rd quarter, resulting in a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown by New York’s Aaron Ross that sealed the Ravens’ fate.

If that play DOESN’T happen, who knows what the final 15 minutes would have looked like.

The first half beating was eerily similar to the one Rocky Balboa took from Clubber Lang in Rocky 3. Rocky got his rear end handed to him in that bout and so did the Ravens in the first half of today’s game.  It was ugly, plain and simple.  Brandon Jacobs ran over just about everyone in a white jersey during the first 30 minutes and Baltimore’s tackling was minor league.  And when Jacobs wasn’t running wild, New York receivers were taking advantage of a soft Ravens’ secondary en route to a 20-3 halftime lead that would have been worse had Eli Manning not thrown a ball right to Ray Lewis with 12 seconds left with the Giants on Baltimore’s 18-yard line.

Aided by a 7-minute drive early in the 3rd quarter, Baltimore got back in the game with a Flacco to Le’Ron McClain TD pass that gave the Ravens hope and sent their defense back on the field with a mission.  Five plays later, the Ravens got the ball back on their own 30 and the crowd started to get a bit antsy.  The rout was no longer a rout.

But as is the case in most games, one play altered the momentum at a critical time and that play, unfortunately, went against the Ravens.  On 2nd and 5 from their own 42, Flacco looked to his left and found Mason for what would have been a first down, but the ball deflected off of Mason and fell into the waiting arms of Ross, who ran uncontested into the end zone for the backbreaking score and a 27-10 lead.

From there, the teams meandered through a meaningless fourth quarter, although the Ravens mysteriously ran the ball throughout the final stanza while trailing by 20 points.  

All in all, it was a fairly poor performance from the Ravens, who looked listless against the run and simply couldn’t come all the way back from a first half thrashing that had Giants fans laughing in their seats while the team in blue ran roughshod over the vaunted Baltimore defense.

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Beating the Giants would make Ravens a legit force in AFC

Posted on 16 November 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

As I wake this morning the Baltimore Ravens – and, yes, they used the word “Baltimore” before it was “comprehensive branding effort” – are 6-3 and could be in sole possession of first place in the AFC North if a series of positive events transpire later today at the Meadowlands and in Pittsburgh, where the Steelers host a desperate San Diego Chargers club coming east to play with their season in the balance.

No matter what, we’re gonna learn a lot about January today.

In my 13 years of fandom I’ve never seen a purple team this hard to read. Are they this good? Or were THEY that BAD?

I’m not really sure.

Here are the irrefutable facts:

• The Ravens have played nine games and have played eight of them well enough to win. That includes solid, representative efforts in Pittsburgh and here against the undefeated and “unstoppable” Tennessee Titans.
• The Ravens played one of the biggest turds in the history of the franchise in Indianapolis and any horse player might “throw this one out” if they can legitimately run with the New York Football Giants.
• Their only wins have come at the expense of the likes of the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals and Oakland Raiders – the literal dregs of the league and darlings of next April’s NFL Draft.
• The road has been far from a nuisance for rookie quarterback Joe Flacco, who after appearing to have been playing the rope-a-dope in that game against the Colts, has rebounded nicely with huge efforts in Miami, Cleveland and Houston.
• The injuries have mounted – Kelly Gregg, Chris McAlister, Marshal Yanda and Dawan Landry are all done for the season – and the “next man up” has gotten the job done. Winning teams do that!
• The team has a rookie head coach, a rookie quarterback, a rookie left tackle and aging players at a variety of positions from wide receiver to defensive line to middle linebacker and week after week they’ve brought impressive moxie to the field no matter the circumstance. The secondary has been ravaged but is still percolating and when the front seven brings the heat this is a 3-and-out waiting to happen.
• They know how to come back from behind on the road as was witnessed in Cleveland, where they effectively ended their bitter division rival’s playoff aspirations on Halloween weekend.
• And finally, the Giants are 8-1. So let’s just assume they’re pretty good.

These are the facts. But how this game sets up is anyone’s guess.

The Giants are a prohibitive favorite. The weather is slated to be kinda chilly at 49 degrees. And we’re taking 57 purple WNST fans up to the game via the “Miller Lite Roadtrips.”

The rest is why we take the video camera…

Will the Ravens defense shut down the Big Blue running game – Earth, Wind and Fire – which leads the league in rushing?

Will Rex Ryan’s blitz packages get after Eli Manning or will the Giants solid offensive line give him their signal caller a chance to exploit a depleted secondary?

And how will No. 5 fare up the Turnpike from his home in New Jersey as the Giants disguise packages and send the blitz of Justin Tuck and company?

This is why I love football.

Can the Ravens go into the Meadowlands and defeat the reigning World Champions today?

That’s what we’re all wondering…

The bus leaves at 7 a.m.

Casey Willett, Drew Forrester and I will all be at the Meadowlands.

Blogs, stories, videos and hopefully, a victory, will be coming back with us.

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