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Connolly SCF

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Caps Championship Thoughts and More Breakdown Day Coverage

Posted on 14 June 2018 by Ed Frankovic

It’s been exactly a week since the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup and the vibe I’ve been getting around the DMV is that people are still basking in the afterglow of the victory and are dying for more information and news on the team. It’s pretty apparent that this group of players, coaches, training staff, and managers will be heroes, at least in this part of the country, for the rest of their lives. Owner Ted Leonsis and Team President Dick Patrick have put their heart and soul, plus a lot of money, into this organization over the years and are finally being rewarded with a Championship.

Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Braden Holtby, Coach Barry Trotz, and the others on this team have silenced the critics with this amazing season that included a Metropolitan Division title, when most people had them barely getting into the post season or not making it at all. Once game three of the Columbus series began, they went on an incredible 16-6 run in which they overcame a games deficit in all four rounds to capture Lord Stanley’s Cup. It was a remarkable display of grit, toughness, perseverance, and desire to do what had never been done by the franchise before.

There were many moments along the way where they seemed destined to fail, but somehow found a way to push through. Columbus hits the post in game three of the first overtime that would’ve given them a 3-0 series lead before Lars Eller’s magical goal off of a Brett Connolly shot. Tom Kuhnhackl hits the post in overtime of game six before Evgeny Kuznetsov takes that super pass from Ovechkin to finally slay the Penguins dragon. The Caps give up a two game series lead to Tampa with three straight losses, but shut out the Bolts over the final 159 minutes of the series to storm into the Cup Final. In game two of the Stanley Cup Final, with 1:59 remaining and a one goal lead, the Holtbeat makes “The Save” on Alex Tuch to prevent overtime and propel Washington to four straight wins and hockey’s ultimate prize.

It was clear that the tightness of this team provided the foundation that allowed them to rise up and seize the critical moments in the postseason that the Washington Capitals had never done before, in any era. It was legendary, that’s the best way for me to describe it and as each moment since has transpired, I am appreciating more and more what they’ve accomplished. Many in Caps Nation surely feel the same way. Thank you, 2018 Washington Capitals.

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Wednesday was breakdown day at Kettler IcePlex, as I chronicled yesterday in this blog, but as promised, below is the transcript of a one on one exclusive interview WNST was able to obtain with Connolly, who came to Washington in 2016 looking for an opportunity after stints with Tampa and Boston, and has completely seized it.

WNST: You’ve been telling me for two years since you’ve been here that you guys have a good team, but the way you guys played and came together, that was amazing.

Connolly:  Yeah, it was amazing, such a good group, such a committed group, such a highly skilled group. We really just came together at the right time, especially after that Pittsburgh series where we first really believed we could win this. It’s such a big moment for all of us, we’re all just so happy that we could ultimately get this done for all of our fans, for our families, it was such a special moment.

WNST: Coach Trotz told us when he came out to Baltimore that this team this year, whenever he asked someone to move around in the lineup, that he received no push back. That seems to really speak to the type of team you had this year?

Connolly: Yeah, I think you have to be playing the guys that are playing well, whether you’re a veteran guy or a rookie guy, it doesn’t matter. I think we were just cheering for whoever was in, whoever was getting more ice time that night. If a guy wasn’t playing well we’d pick him up, he’d ultimately change his game and they’d figure it out. It was just a good environment to be in, everyone was playing their best hockey at the right time of the year.

WNST: The way you, Jakub Vrana, and Andre Burakovsky played in the playoffs, all three of you guys have always had high skill, but the way the three of you took the body, were in the proper position on the walls, it seemed like that was the biggest jump you guys made and was a big part of the team’s success. Would you agree with that?

Connolly: Yes, I think so. I think I got a little taste of [the playoffs] last year, I didn’t play a whole lot, there were a lot of other guys deserving of that chance and I just wasn’t, but I think I got a little confidence from that, just knowing what to expect. I think we all really just played solid, just did what was asked of us, we didn’t really care. I think overall a lot of our games got better throughout the playoffs. It was ultimately why a lot of us were successful and had good stats and helped the team win.

WNST: It seems like every time an obstacle was thrown at you guys, you overcame it. First one, game three against Columbus, you score a goal that would’ve made it 2-0, it comes back on an offside, but on the game winning goal in double overtime, you make a smart play by shooting quickly and the puck goes in off of Lars Eller for the team’s first win.

Connolly: Simple, but that’s the playoffs, really simple. I had a couple of those in the postseason, just need a break sometimes and I just tried to shoot it as quick as I could and as hard as I could. You know we were earning all of our breaks in the playoffs, we were working for each other and I think we legitimately deserved everything we got.

WNST: The last goal of the Stanley Cup playoffs, you didn’t score the goal, but it was your shot, with again Lars going to the net. This team did that the whole playoffs.

Connolly: Yeah, just the same thing. Lars was hungry all playoffs, he’s a guy that’s going to the net all of the time. He really, really elevated his game the whole playoffs. Really awesome to see, he really turned a lot of heads. Such a big moment for the city, for me, him, and Burkie, whoever was on the ice, at that point.

WNST: You’ve been here two years, I grew up here, I’ve been around this team for 44 years. I don’t know how much you realize what legends you guys are going to be around this area to finally bring a Cup here. This team was gone in 1982, but for the Save the Caps. Then in 2004 it is gone again if Ovi doesn’t comes along. You guys now go and win a Cup and have put it over the top.

Connolly: It’s pretty cool. We saw the support at the parade. People are on cloud nine and it’s amazing to see everybody so happy. It’s really cool to be a part of something like that. To put so many smiles on so many people’s faces. There’s been so much good support the last couple of years I’ve been here, but that parade was insane and it was something that I’ll never forget and a lot of guys will never forget.

WNST: What are you going to do with the Cup?

Connolly: I’m going to go home to British Columbia, Prince George, just take it around town. I don’t know what we’ll do, but just try to get as many people to see it as possible.

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Connolly is definitely one of the better interviews on the team and I’ve appreciated his insight since he joined the Caps last season. He has worked hard to improve and he’s made General Manager Brian MacLellan and his scouting staff look super smart for bringing him to town. Kudos, Brett.

In yesterday’s blog, I failed to mention that Kuznetsov’s injury from the Brayden McNabb hit in game two was to his left shoulder. Fortunately, Kuzy is a smaller version of the Russian Machine that Never Breaks and came back in game three to lead his team to victory with an outstanding performance. All season long, in this blog and in my radio sessions with WNST owner Nestor Aparacio, I showered number 92 with tough love. He is an immensely talented hockey player who I knew, if he took his game to another level and played the right way, would be such a key to the Capitals finally breaking through into the later rounds of the playoffs. Boy did he do just that, and more. Evgeny led all players in scoring in the playoffs and he delivered when the team really needed him to do so. He has moved himself from the very good category to the elite/superstar level with his postseason performance. He earned every bit of the $7.8M he received from the Caps this past season.

The Caps now have a short turnaround for training camp, which will start around September 10th or so. It’s already June 14th, so there will be less time to get ready. Jay Beagle, who has won championships at the ECHL, AHL, and now the NHL level did point out that the short time to get ready isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Beags said that in the three summers following his ECHL and two AHL triumphs, he was more motivated to train and that he didn’t have to work hard to prevent losing focus like he’s done when the team has been eliminated earlier in the spring. So it would appear that this summer the Caps players do have that going for them….which is nice.

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A Ravens Championship likely means beating Super Bowl experienced QB’s

Posted on 05 January 2009 by Jason Jubb

I know, one game at a time. The Ravens still have a way to go in order to bring home a Super Bowl victory, but if they do they will most likely have to go through some Super Bowl experienced QB’s.

 

How much does Super Bowl experience help as you travel through the NFL playoffs? It’s hard to quantify what each player’s experience means but as the pressure mounts it can only be to their advantage to have been through it before.

 

Currently with 8 teams left in the hunt, 6 of these teams have QB’s that have been on the NFL’s biggest stage. These names include Kurt Warner (twice), Kerry Collins, Jake Delhomme, Donovan McNabb, Ben Roethlisberger, and Eli Manning.

 

The two players yet to go are Philip Rivers and Joe Flacco. Rivers saw action in last years AFC championship game where he lost to the Patriots while nursing an injured leg (19/37 211 yds 0 TD – 2 Int).

 

Flacco on the other hand is still new to the playoffs, but since when has he seemed phased by anything? Will he be bothered by the media attention or the perceived pressure as he moves through each game? If this season is any indication we may have the exception to the rule, but the Ravens will have their hands full with whoever they play.

 

Below are the SB performances of the QB’s still alive in this years playoffs:

 

SB #                Player                           comp-att          yards  td-int   W/L    other

XXXIV            Kurt Warner                     24/45           414      2-0       W      MVP   

XXV                Kerry Collins                    15/39           112      0-4        L       lost to Ravens

XXXVI            Kurt Warner                     28/44           365      1-2        L       

XXXVIII         Jake Delhomme                16/33           323      3-0        L

XXXVIX         Donovan McNabb          30/51           357      3-3         L

XL                    Ben Roethlisberger           9/21           123      0-2        W

XLII                 Eli Manning                      19/34           255      2-1        W      MVP

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You Play The Coach – Which Raven Gets Your Game Ball?

Posted on 26 November 2008 by Alex Thomas

That wasn’t just another Ravens win, that was a statement to the rest of the NFL that the Ravens are true playoff contenders. I was down at Washington College (my alma mater) for the game. Considering I didn’t have to work, I stuck around and watched the game with the numerous Eagles fans who I have described in previous blogs. We usually don’t hang out on Sundays, but considering the entire cast of the men’s swimming ’08 alumni were there, I decided to give it a shot. Of course, I was in the comfort of other Ravens fans to ease the pain in case the Raven’s lost.

But they didn’t. In fact, they mopped the floor with the Eagles, and in the process have made themselves an integral part of Philadelphia sports lore: The Day the Donovan McNabb Era Ended.

The first half of this game was actually rather boring. Aside from a great play by Jarret Johnson and an Ed Reed pick that set up a great TD catch by Daniel Wilcox, both offenses were searching for a way, ANY way, to move the football down the field without bringing out the punter. But the second half, especially the fourth quarter, was filled with reasons for Ravens fans to cheer and Eagles fans to have another one.

I don’t understand how there’s any reasonable way you can substitute a potential Hall of Fame quarterback (after it’s all said and done…at this point, he’s in the Hall of Very Good) for a back-up with limited experience…on the road in one of the most intimidating atmospheres in the NFL in M&T Bank Stadium…against a ferocious defense that has already forced three turnovers.

Andy Reid made a bad call, and he’s trying to rectify it by starting McNabb on Thanksgiving night…sorry buddy, this isn’t going to save your job, or McNabb’s for that matter. The Eagles are a team ready to implode, which is kind of strange to think about considering how dominating they’ve been in the NFC in recent years.

Some thoughts on the game:

-Jared Gaither surprised all of us by playing against Philly, and he played a pretty good game considering he’s playing with one arm.

-Joe Flacco keeps getting better every week. Considering all of the pressure he was under, it’s amazing that he didn’t throw a pick. He’ll see similar pressure against Pittsburgh in a few weeks, so it’s good to see that he’s learning to protect the football.

-What happened to Brian Dawkins? Did he even play on Sunday? He is the heart and soul of the Eagles defense, and had literally no impact on the game. No wonder the Ravens put up 36 points.

-If I could give out an Unsung Hero award, it would undoubtedly go to Jarret Johnson.

-Matt Stover is still struggling to get elevation on his kicks.

-For the second time this season, the Ravens special teams cost the team a shutout. That has to be frustrating for Ray Lewis and Co.

-My game ball goes to Ed Reed. For several reasons, including the record-breaking 108 interception return for a touchdown that sealed the game. As Gerry Sandusky said: “You better believe the hay’s in the barn now.” I think it’s a no-brainer.

Who gets your game ball this week?

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When do we paint the city purple and make some noise?

Posted on 25 November 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

It occurred to me as the National Anthem was playing on Sunday as I began my three-hour freeze in the upper deck of M&T Bank Stadium that the late-arriving crowd might’ve been looking forward to the cold as much as I was. Which is to say, “not so much.”

Sunday was the strangest of Ravens games from my perspective. Strange pacing. Strange crowd (I can honestly say that I didn’t see one problem with Eagles fans, although I heard a few horror stories. Of course, I sit in Sect. 513 and I only saw one person in green anywhere near my section.). Before the game I saw swaths of green and heard chants of “E-A-G-L-E-S” coming from inside the stadium as I circled to enter.

The Eagles fans – as well as the team on the field – seemed to leave their “game” at the tailgate lot.

But the purple crowd was even more bizarre and “dead.” Entering the game at 6-4, playing at home for the first time a few weeks and with a lot on the line, I thought our fans were kinda lame on Sunday. It was strangely silent. And the strong home field advantage we usually enjoy from the noise of the crowd on defense was strangely QUIET…

You can laugh, but I’m convinced it has to do with gloves. I remember being at the Panthers-Packers NFC Championship Game back in 1996 in Green Bay when the temperature was 8 degrees and thinking “it’s awfully quiet” at Lambeau Field. I looked around and realized that people were trying to survive more than be a home-field advantage, 11th-man crowd.

The only “roar” of the crowd comes with voices when 70,000 are wearing gloves. Or huddling under blankets.

Did anybody hear – or not hear – what I did on Sunday?

Sure, it was cold as hell. (Here’s where the macho will say: “Aw, it wasn’t that cold!” Yes…it was!) But it was also empty-ish upon kickoff. The crowds rarely rose to their feet when Donovan McNabb was on the field early in the game. I don’t know if was the weather or the Eagles or the pacing of the game, but it was hardly the rocking stadium we’ve seen and heard in the past. Hard to get loud when people are shivering, I suppose.

But, hey, a 36-7 win isn’t summed up with me bitching about the crowd. It was a great game, a great day to be a Ravens fan. But if you have been a PSL holder over the years, you must admit that the stadium was awkwardly library-ish on Sunday.

But today I’m wondering aloud when the city will get all oiled up and lathered about a 7-4 football team with a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback that should have the city salivating.

Maybe it’s because no one really thinks this team can with the Super Bowl this year?

Maybe it’s because the economy sucks and everyone is generally kinda miserable with their business, holiday, cash-flow situation, etc.?

Maybe it’s just not that exciting when the team isn’t playing knockout games just yet, even if seeing the little sea of green in the parking lot from Filthy didn’t get people worked up?

But I hope it changes and changes soon. The Ravens sent all of us at WNST a “reminder” about Purple Fridays, which is a good start. We had the 13-3 season two years ago and the city was purple and at a fever pitch by Thanksgiving. I can’t wait to see the city swathed in a sea of purple in a few weeks and harbor the thoughts of playing some January football – here or on the road. If you can’t get excited about 7-4 with a pending trip to Cincinnati to go to a potential 8-4, then why be a fan?

THESE ARE THE GOOD TIMES! It doesn’t get much better than sitting around watching football on Turkey Day with the Ravens being a factor in the mix. Two out of the last three years, the team has been dreadful and miserable to watch by Thanksgiving. This year our turkey talk combines nicely with our football when our families reconvene in 48 hours.

Honestly, won’t the Ravens and their season be a MAJOR topic of conversation around any event you attend on Thursday? That’s the fun part about football — the whole family gets in on the conversation and excitement.

December shapes up nicely if the Ravens can get through this “trap” game in Cincinnati.

The Redskins game has been moved into primetime.

The Steelers come here the following weekend and that game stands to be larger than life if the Ravens can win the next two and enter that game at 9-4.

We’ll then play in Dallas before Christmas on national television again. Tony Romo. Jerry Jones. Jessica Simpson. It’s a “made for primetime” event on a Saturday night.

And we’ll finish the season here against the woeful Jacksonville Jaguars, a game that will no doubt be aided by the flasks and anything else that warms the soul on a cold winter day.

So, just when does the party start?

When do we start turning the city on its purple side?

(BTW: The WNST Miller Lite Purple Palace contest is still in gear through the middle of December. We already have a handful of entries and we’d love to collect as many as we can. We’ll begin to show you the videos and pictures we’ve collected later this week. If you have a friend or neighbor or relative who has a “purple palace,” tell them to enter the contest here. Winner goes to Green Bay next year to see Lambeau Field and gets a visit from the WNST crew with a bunch of Miller Lite and food.)

I’m ready to bust out the purple rope lights around WNST.

I’m ready for the fun to begin.

I’m ready for Festivus!

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A beautiful day: Ravens 36, Eagles 7

Posted on 23 November 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

The Ravens used an opportunistic offense and myriad of breakdowns by the hapless visitors to pummel the Philadelphia Eagles at M&T Bank Stadium, 36-7 this afternoon.

Andy Reid’s benching of Donovan McNabb at halftime will surely be debated across three states and the calling for his head surely will begin for calling a pass play at the goal line early in the fourth quarter when the Eagles were about six inches from making it a one-score game.

Hard to say who was more quiet today at frigid M&T Bank Stadium today — the Eagles fans or the Ravens fans. It was a strange day of football all the way around.

The game was long and out-of-synch in its pacing and reminded me of what would be the beginning of the end of Brian Billick’s tenure here — the ugly game in Detroit two years ago.

Nothing the Eagles did went right. They got hosed on a couple of calls. Both of their quarterbacks threw hideous passes. The Ravens — and mainly Joe Flacco — stunk for most of the first half and the Eagles still couldn’t manage to score any points beyond the kickoff return, which clearly embarrassed John Harbaugh and his special teams sensibilities.

But feel free to roundly celebrate: the Ravens are 7-4 and looked quite impressive in the end in “playing four quarters” and out smash-mouthing their neighbors from Filthy.

It’s Thanksgiving and we have a lot to be thankful for football-wise in Baltimore because we can legitimately start talking playoffs with a chance to be 8-4 next Sunday with a strong effort in Cincinnati.

Where to begin?

Ed Reed ran a 108-yard interception back through traffic that seemed like the Stanford band. Ed Reed also got burned trying to lateral a ball to Samari Rolle in heavy traffic near the goal line. (Somewhere, Billick was still yelling at him!)

Dan Wilcox caught a TD pass after thinking he might not even play.

Jared Gaither played through the pain. Adam Terry left the game early with a concussion and the offensive line still kept coming back for more. At one point, Ben Grubbs left the game. And David Hale was spotted in there mixing it up quite a bit as well.

The Ravens continued to stop the Eagles rushing attack all day long, and seemed to welcome the benching of McNabb for Kevin Kolb, who was largely as ineffective as No. 5. His one drive of note to lead the team back into the game was nullfyed and reversed when Reed went the distance on one of the most amazing plays in Ravens history.

Le’Ron McClain continues to shine his own star as a fullback who has made a seamless transition into a big-time power back, rushing for 88 yards and one breakaway touchdown late in the game when most of the Eagles fans had put down their cheesesteaks and pretzels and headed back toward the Maryland House on I-95.

Mark Clayton was a factor in the game today and we’d love to see more of that. He also made fun of his own endzone celebration.

Jarret Johnson had a huge game and made a pick on McNabb that Harbaugh described as “one of the greatest plays I’ve ever seen.”

Matt Stover hit a long field goal when the team needed it.

And Jameel McClain registered his second safety of the season and he’s only been on the team for a few weeks.

Overall, the defense was awesome all day. They pitched a shutout that was only tainted by the kickoff return by Quinton Demps. (Kinda reminded me of another game against an NFC East team where the only score was a return for a touchdown on an otherwise perfect day. Of course, it was a little warmer on Jan. 28, 2001.)

I’ll be writing some more later and posting post-game video. It was largely an “homage” to Ed Reed and the kind of game he had today. (And at one point, he fell to his knees and was all but tackled to leave the field when he couldn’t lift his arm.)

Feel free to throw your comments in and we’ll launch them soon enough.

A great day to be a Ravens fan. The team is 7-4 and headed to Cincinnati. This was a huge win.

And the Eagles fans were strangely silent from whistle to whistle, slithering out of the stadium while the Ed Reed celebration commenced right around 4 p.m.

More to come…

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We’ll learn a lot about Ravens and playoff hopes today

Posted on 23 November 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

As painful as it was to witness, sitting home on Thursday night and watching the Pittsburgh Steelers dismantle the hapless Cincinnati Bengals during another god-awful NFL Network telecast got me thinking about where the Ravens really stand in this potential Festivus season of playoff football. The Steelers are now 8-3 and barring any extreme complication they appear to be in the driver’s seat for the AFC North title.

By going out on three days of rest and winning at Heinz Field, the Steelers have cranked up the heat on the Ravens today with their scary matchup against Donovan McNabb and the Eagles here at the Crab Cake.

I don’t think any of us were under the impression that the Ravens were a Super Bowl team, but after a 6-3 start and with four of the final six at home, you’d like to think on paper that anything short of a “play in” game on Dec. 29th would be a massive disappointment. Of course, I’m not even sure 10-6 will get you an automatic berth given the stack up of mediocrity that the AFC seems to be at this point.

It’s been a confusing season for everyone from the bettors to the fantasy players. Week to week, other than the Giants and Titans winning, I don’t ever feel confident about any one team or player making a massive contribution. And the Titans will probably lose today.

I’m equally perplexed about today’s matchup as I sit here writing in the dawn’s early light of a frigid, long day of dealing with drunk idiots from Philadelphia. (Or at least that’s what I expect!)

The Eagles have looked like a January observer for quite some time now, but the Ravens’ obvious weaknesses and injuries are starting to mount. Who will block in the running game and protect Joe Flacco today? Can the likes of O’Neil Cousins step up and help the Ravens to victory? Will Eagles defensive coordinator Jimmy Johnson stonewall the purple and confuse the rookie signal caller?

Passing the ball today will be difficult. Before last week’s blustery day at the Meadowlands, the Ravens were the best on the planet at stopping the run. This should be: advantage Ravens.

If the Eagles can’t run the ball (and they might not even try), the Ravens dinged up secondary will become the focal point of the afternoon. If McNabb throws the ball 50 times, can the Ravens force turnovers and make big plays?

This season has been a lot of fun for all of us (especially given where the real world has taken all of our budgets and pocketbooks over the past 10 weeks), but I’m not so sure I can make a serious case that this team will be playing in January if they lose today. It’s not like I’ve been looking into playoff roadtrips just yet.

Today is one of those tests that will tell us if the Ravens are any good. As has been noted all week, the Ravens have lost to every good team they’ve played and beaten all of the dogs of the league.

But just who are the Eagles? Probably one of those teams like the Dolphins that are good enough to be ordinary but veteran enough to beat you. Beating them doesn’t impress me but if they’re 7-4 at the end of the afternoon, they’re in pretty good shape.

If the Ravens can beat a veteran QB at home on a blustery day here to go to 7-4, that would show me something. A loss – especially a bad loss – would make them a very ordinary 6-5 team but with Cincinnati looming next week we would probably continue to extend the party at least for a little while and can still talk playoffs at 7-5.

Win today and you can still talk about a serious playoff hope and/or a divison title.

A loss, and the best you can hope for realistically is a wild card.

I’d say the stakes are high.

Save your energy. It’s gonna be a long day…

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A rare matchup of cheesesteak vs. crab cake

Posted on 21 November 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

It doesn’t happen often when the mean streets of the City of Brotherly Love and the quaint “Wire” world of Charm City get together in a meaningful sports contest. Four years ago, we had the infamous Halloween matchup where Terrell Owens – at that point still en vogue in fickle Filthy – danced over Ray Lewis in the north end zone of The Linc.

Twenty five years ago we saw the Orioles take down the Phillies in Game 5 at The Vet to bring Baltimore its final sniff of a World Title in the great game of baseball. Of course, that was “B.A.” – before Angelos.

But I can’t think of another time when Baltimore vs. Philly meant much of anything. And that’s a shame, really.

So as a guy who travels to Philadelphia regularly for concerts, culture and rock and roll (BTW: Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers are reuniting next Wednesday night for a one-time only show at the Electric Factory) it’s always interesting when a sports battle actually involves Baltimore vs. Philly.

As much as there is a “rivalry” of some kind – and let’s be honest, the Phillies are the World Champions and I see their gear all over our town these days so there isn’t much to discuss on the baseball side thanks to Angelos and company – Sunday should be a lot of fun if the violent drunk Philadelphia fans don’t overdo it.

It’s an all-too-rare 90-mile turf war.

Philadelphia – or Filthy, as I lovingly refer to it – has cheesesteaks, decent doughy pretzels, Rocky Balboa, the Flyers, Tastykakes and plenty of grit.

Baltimore has a purple love affair with our football team, Ray Lewis, the Eagles former special teams coach with John Harbaugh and I’ll still take crab cakes over Tastykakes or cheesesteaks.

I suppose it’s unfortunate in some ways that when Art Modell brought the Ravens to town that we didn’t somehow wind up in a division where we could play the Redskins, Giants and Eagles a little more frequently than every four years – or in this case, every EIGHT years in our home market.

Sure, I dig hating on Cleveland and Pittsburgh (as well as feeling empathy for the poor people of Cincinnati), but it’d be a lot more fun to talk about the Eagles and Philadelphia in some sort of “rivalry” way more than every four years.

Of course, ask me again after the game on Sunday once we all spend a day with our “well-behaved” neighbors from the north and I might feel differently.

It all depends on how many picks Donovan McNabb throws us on Sunday.

The Eagles fans are second only to the Browns fans to admire when their team is losing.

Bring on Gang Green…

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Ravens vs. Eagles – Your Predictions

Posted on 20 November 2008 by Alex Thomas

Finally, the Ravens return to Baltimore and get to play in front of the home crowd. Coming off an embarrassing performance in the Meadowlands, the Ravens defense is poised to play their best game of the season.

Brian Westbrook is battling an ankle injury and has not yet participated in practice this week. Westbrook is the support beam for the Eagles offense. If he doesn’t play, the Eagles offense takes a totally different shape. Donovan McNabb did not play well last week against a rather pathetic Bengals defense.

Unfortunately, on the other side of the football, things aren’t looking so good. It looks like Jared Gaither won’t play, and Willie Anderson has been limited in practice all week. With the Eagles defense leading the NFL in sacks with 36, Joe Flacco could be running for his life on Sunday. When I last saw Derrick Mason he was in a sling, and he told reporters earlier this week that he is uncertain about whether or not he’ll play.

I think that if the Ravens were completely healthy, this would be an easy Baltimore victory. But the banged up offensive line creates some severe personnel match-up problems. Oneal Cousins trying to block Trent Cole and Darren Howard? Yeah…right…

The Ravens need this win with Miami and New England breathing down their neck in the AFC wild card race. Baltimore, Miami, and New England all have 6-4 records, but at this point the Ravens hold the tie-breaker. And either the Dolphins or the Patriots will pick up a win this week as both teams will square off in Miami.

My prediction: The Ravens know what’s at stake and will find a way to win this week, but Joe Flacco must be protected in order for that to happen. Look for more Troy Smith this week.

Ravens – 23

Eagles -16

Pivotal match-up: Ravens Offensive Line vs. Eagles Defensive Line.

Where it could all go wrong: The old adage: protect the football and protect the quarterback. If both of those things happen, the Ravens will win this game. I don’t see the Eagles doing much on offense with an unhealthy Brian Westbrook.

Surprising statistic: The Eagles are 37-1 when McNabb has a passer rating over 100.

Last Week’s 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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Fantasy Football Week 2

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Fantasy Football Week 2

Posted on 12 September 2008 by KZ

Fantasy Football What’s New For 09.08.08

Hey Check out the New Columns…CLICK HERE AND NEW THIS YEAR to FANS FANTASY FOOTBALL…your official FANTASY DRAFT GUIDE…not who but HOW to draft a winning Fantasy Football Team…CLICK HERE FOR THE WAY TO DRAFT THIS YEAR.

RANKINGS WILL BE OUT EVERY THURSDAY, CLICK HERE FOR THEM

and

REVIEW of the WEEK THAT WAS IN FANTASY FOOTBALL every TUESDAY RIGHT HERE ON THE WHAT’s NEW PAGE!

plus

THE NEW MONDAY MORNING QUICK HITS ON KEN ZALIS’s COLUMNS PAGE

TRADE BAIT(s): Matt Hasselbeck (if you can), Selvin Young (Get away from the mess now), Jamal Lewis (gonna be a long year)

STAR(S) OF WEEK (officially renamed the LT of the Week): Donovan McNabb, Michael Turner and Willie Parker

DUD(S) of the Week: Carson Palmer, Ocho Stinko and TJ Houshamandzadeh

Hot Pick up(s) of the week: Eddie Royal, Tim Hightower, Michael Pittman, Matt Cassel, Jon Kitna, Jake Delhomme, Sammie Morris and DEION BRANCH (back in 2 weeks)

TEAM(s) of the WEEK: Chicago Bears looked like the Defense of old and may have found a running back in Matt Forte. The went into Indy, first game in their new stadium and dominated them.

Ut Oh of the week: Well New England for obvious reason come claim the UT OH, but this week it goes to the SEATTLE SEAHAWKS. They are running out of WR’s, as Nate Burleson was lost for the year with a knee injury. Deion Branch seems at least another week away so that leaves Courtney Taylor as Seattle number 1 receiver. Taylor struggled on Sunday in his first start. They showed no running game at at and now Maurice Morris may miss a few weeks.

Fantasy Football Start Them This Week…

Check back weekly. We will never say start LT or AP that is too obvious and We will never tell you to sit someone, but here are some people we really like ….you can make the sit calls or email us for our view…track how accurate we are…..we have been as good as everyone else so check us out.

PLEASE READ THIS WEEKS COLUMS ON STARTS: CLICK HERE

QB’s:Marc Bulger, Ben Roethlisberger, Kurt Warner and Eli Manning
RB’s: Earnest Graham, EDGE, Willie Parker, Frank Gore and Clinton Portis
WR’s/TE’s: Andre Johnson, Marvin Harrison, Anquan Boldin, Brandon Marshall, Joseph Cotchery and Todd Heap

Top 10 to 15 or so starts for IDP’s:

DL: Jared Allen, Mario Williams, Aaron Kampman, Will Smith, Julius Peppers, Patrick Kearney, Aaron Schobel, Trent Cole, Terrell Suggs, Gaines Adams, Aaron Carter, Bernard Berry and Justin Smith.

LB: D. Ryans, P. Willis, R. Lewis, N. Barnett, D. Harris, M. Peterson, K. Morrison, J. Beason, W. Witherspoon, K. Rivers, E. Simms, L. Fletcher, B. Urlacher, D. Edwards and F. Keiaho

DB: G. Wilson, A. Wilson. S. Jones, A. Bigby, A. Rolle, A. Winfield, T. Polamalu, C. Tillman, B. Sanders, L. Landry, M. Trufant, B. Pollard and E. Weddle.

Some Other Guys We Like This Week…

SLEEPER(s) OF THE WEEK….what DUD will become a STUD…at least for one week….we will try to give a QB, RB and WR/TE each week…

QB: Kerry Collins, the Titan offense seems quicker with him in the game, which is wierd.
RB: Julius Jones, SF has a way of getting people healthy.
WR/TE: Matt Jones, had a good first week, ride him for 1 more week.
Kicker and Defense: Arizona is for real folks…love Jeff Reed this week kicking 2 FG’s and 4 extra points.

Locks Of The Week…

In a suicide pool? We can help. Once again track our success. We will give you three a week.

After two years we are 118 – 51 (69.8%)…not bad!! TRULY pretty damn good…we have checked others out and we are just as good as they are! 2007 record: 48 – 21.

2008 RECCORD: 2 – 1

WEEK OF 09/013/08:

  1. Arizona over Miami
  2. Jacksonville over Buffalo
  3. Green Bay over Detroit

Bonus Pick:

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The Hall of Fame Debate

Posted on 16 April 2008 by roblong

Here is the final installation of the three part Hall of Fame debate.

Today’s debate is the NFL. I saved the best for last. Again, think active players, so Brett Favre will not appear.

I’ve given 16 players who’ll go and five players who I don’t think will go. Let the debate begin.

– Tom Brady – Forget Super Bowl 42, he’s the best in the game.

– Jason Taylor – 117 total sacks. He may be a better football player than Strahan.

– Ray Lewis – The best linebacker. EVER.

– Jonathan Ogden – You won’t realize how great he still is until he retires

– Peyton Manning – The most dedicated quarterback in the games. Over 41,000 yards and 306 touchdowns.

– Marvin Harrison – If he doesn’t go, neither should Manning.

– LaDainain Tomlinson – Over 10,000 yards in only seven seasons. Best football player in the game.

– Michael Strahan – 141.5 sacks. Is there any debate?

– Donovan McNabb – A rare breed. The ability to drive his team is unmatched.

– Brian Urlacher – Should he go? No. Will he go? Yes.

– Isaac Bruce – Quietly put together a Hall of Fame career. 942 reception, 14,109 yards, and 84 touchdowns.

– Randy Moss – Do we really need to discuss this?

– Torry Holt – Has flourished in a wide open offense.

– Steve Hutchinson – The best at his position.

– Terrell Owens – I’m not a fan, but he’s dominant. Pencil him in for 80 receptions, 1000 yards, and 10 touchdowns.

– Edgerrin James – 11,607 yards, 418 receptions, and 88 touchdowns for a great offensive team.

Not Quite the Hall

– Zach Thomas – 12 years, only four seasons with 100 tackles or more.

– Chad Johnson – Very productive, but will his act wear thin?

– Steve McNair – Not sure if he’s done enough.

– Tedy Bruschi – Everyone loves Tedy, but he’s no Hall of Famer.

– Alan Faneca – Kills the Ravens, and is one of the best around. Not sure if he’s a HOFer.

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