Posted on 28 January 2014 by WNST Audio
Posted on 20 December 2013 by Drew Forrester
You know how it goes in gambling.
There are games you “like”, games you “feel good about” and games where you say, “it’s a lock!”
I have a slam-dunk thing called the “7-Star Lock” that I only bring out for very special occasions.
I’ve only used the “7-Star Lock” twice this season.
It hit both times.
The first go-round was in Baltimore last month when the Ravens edged the Bengals 20-17 in overtime. The Friday before, I ended our award-winning segment – “Picks and Comment” – with the stunning revelation that the game in Baltimore two days later was “the lock of all locks”. Hence, the reason it was a 7-Star Lock.
You just don’t label a game a 7-Star Lock unless you know it’s a done deal.
In fact, the 7-Star Lock is just like a honeybee. When a honeybee stings you, that’s essentially its final act, as it will perish hours later.
If the 7-Star Lock ever fails, it, too, is dead. A 7-Star Lock can only be used while owning a perfect record.
Anyway, following the successful application of the 7-SL on the Bengals in Baltimore (“I don’t care what you say, Cincinnati isn’t coming to Baltimore and beating the Ravens this Sunday…”), I took a few weeks off before finding another 7-SL game.
Last Sunday in Miami, I called the Dolphins over New England a 7-Star Lock for the hometown ‘Fins.
You can up that record to 2-0 on 7-SL’s this season.
Oddly enough, New England will once again be involved in a 7-Star Lock game. It’s this Sunday afternoon in Baltimore.
Baltimore 26 – New England 13
And, yes, you can make that a 7-Star Lock.
New England’s not coming to Baltimore and winning on Sunday. They don’t have enough offense, even though they have the best QB in the league. They don’t have a defense that can stop the Ravens long enough to let the referees work their expected late-game magic for Bill Belichick’s team.
They have a very good kicker.
The Ravens have a great one.
New England doesn’t have to win the game.
The Ravens don’t lose big home games. Not under John Harbaugh, anyway. Not in December.
The last time the Ravens spit the bit in a home game of this kind of magnitude was January 13, 2007 when the ’06 campaign ended abruptly with a 15-6 loss to the Colts in the AFC playoffs.
Ain’t happenin’ this Sunday in Baltimore, trust me.
Ravens in a romp.
Posted on 15 January 2013 by Thyrl Nelson
When I wrote a few months ago that the Ravens had the look of a championship team, I certainly had my doubts about them actually being able to live up to the legacies of the Packers and Giants as the league’s previous 2 champions by catching lightning in a bottle at just the right time. That however is exactly what has happened so far, and now for the 3rd time in 5 years the Ravens find themselves within one game of the Super Bowl.
The funny thing about the week leading up to the game in Denver was that on paper at least, it seemed to be the most daunting task the Ravens had faced in the playoffs since the Flacco, Harbaugh et al era began. It sounded strange to say that, while still holding out hope that they could win, because obviously they’ve been ousted from the playoffs in each of the last 4 years by teams that didn’t look nearly as frightening as the Broncos seemed to be.
The one saving grace in that expectation was that the previous most daunting playoff match-up in Ravens playoff history was probably their game against the Tennessee Titans in their run to Super Bowl 35, and of course we all remember how that one ended.
If we were looking for the defining moments and match-ups in Saturday’s game that helped to propel the Ravens to victory we could likely spend at least as long as they spent playing the game…perhaps even longer doing it. Here however are my 7 key elements to Saturday’s win against the Broncos and the questions that arise as a result, relative to the AFC title game and the New England Patriots.
#1 – The Offensive Line
The newly retooled offensive line has come to play so far in the playoffs and on Saturday they were more than impressive in stymieing the likes of Von Miller, Elvis Dumervil and company. Bryant McKinnie was great at left tackle, Michael Oher was comfortable and dominant restored to his natural right tackle spot, Kelechi Osemele seems much better suited (at least for now) at the left guard where he was able to work in concert with Matt Birk, and almost everything the Ravens do on the ground begins with Marshal Yanda who seems healthy once again.
The Ravens Offensive line was so effective at stopping a previously dominant Denver pass rush that the Broncos secondary as a result was exposed. The additional time that the Ravens offense had to let routes develop downfield showed weaknesses in the Denver secondary that arguably no one, even the Broncos, knew that they had. Say what you want about Rahim Moore as the goat in Saturday’s game, but at least part of the issue with is big missed play has to be attributed to the fact that he was forced into a role that he hadn’t had to play all year because the Denver corners weren’t able to maintain man coverage vs. the Ravens.
The Question: Having dealt effectively with 2 pretty good edge rushing defenses, how do the Ravens, and particularly Matt Birk deal with New England’s interior rush and the disruptive capabilities of Vince Wilfork who was dominant in last year’s AFC title game?
#2 – Variety of Weapons
I’ve made arguments throughout the Flacco era in Baltimore that he hasn’t been sufficiently armed with the types of weapons that seemingly every other high level quarterback has at his disposal. That still may be the case, but since Jim Caldwell has taken over the offensive reigns the Ravens have used the middle of the field much more effectively. Torrey Smith has shown tremendous upside in his downfield blocking of late and Anquan Boldin has been a deep threat at times. Ed Dickson has returned to the lineup providing some much needed blocking assurance, and Jacoby Jones has been reincorporated into the offense. Add Bernard Pierce and his complimentary running style to Ray Rice’s and suddenly, despite the lack of any superstars in the receiving corps, Baltimore has a variety of weapons that all have to be accounted for equally. As a result, their ability of spread defenses out, and accept what the defense is allowing has enabled Joe Flacco, behind that newly retooled offensive line, to sit back and pick the opposition apart.
The Question(s): Which Flacco target will be the key against New England’s suspect pass defense?
If Bernard Pierce is unable to go, how much faith can the Ravens have in Anthony Allen to spell Ray Rice?
Posted on 14 January 2013 by Drew Forrester
Well, the Ravens did their part on Saturday in Denver.
Now, let’s see if the fans in Baltimore can follow suit and do their part this week.
I was watching Joel Osteen on Sunday morning and he delivered such a timely, connecting message for Baltimore football fans that I just had to write about it today.
It doesn’t hurt that I tried to get the same message through everyone’s thick heads last week, but now that the Ravens have disposed of the Broncos and are headed to the AFC title game, I figured I’d bring up Osteen’s message and weave it into something worth reading here at WNST.net.
Osteen’s theme on Sunday morning was “Don’t let someone else take your joy from you.” He went on to ask that you stay focused on what’s important to you and what matters most and to not let others take away your joy and happiness. His message related to God. Mine relates to football.
Last week, a lot of you — so many, in fact, I became agitated at first and then, later, just embarrassed – spent a great deal of time complaining and bellyaching about the “Ravens don’t have a chance” angle most of the national media were focused on as the lead-up to the game in Denver.
I must have had 25 calls about it and four times that many e-mails. Whining, moaning, complaining, fretting. ”I don’t understand why they’re not giving the Ravens more love…”
“I’m so fed up with the national media…why don’t they give us a chance? – waaaahh, waaaaaah, waaaaaah…”
“All I keep hearing about is Denver and Peyton and how Brady and Manning would be a great AFC title game, blah, blah, blah.”
SHUT UP ALREADY!!! I said to myself under my breath about a hundred times last week.
You could have done so much more with your time last week. Rather than go on and on and on – and on and on and on – about how “no one likes the Ravens”, you could have walked your neighbor’s dog or washed your car or called an old friend just to shoot the breeze.
Instead, you called ME and just made a whining fool of yourself, complaining about something some guy wrote in Denver…or crying because Skip Bayless thinks “the Ravens don’t have a chance.” Those people are paid to get you to watch, read, listen and react accordingly.
And, as I tried to tell you for five straight days last week – with the scoreboard supporting me on this Saturday night – the game will be played by the players and NOTHING anyone says or writes about it during the week before will have any bearing on the outcome.
Yet, you guys cried every single time you heard or read something disrespectful to the Ravens.
It was so unbecoming to hear it and read it over and over last week. Like the teacher said in “Breakfast Club” — “I expected more from a varsity letterman.”
I expected more from you people last week. Really, I did.
(Please see next page)
Posted on 25 December 2012 by Drew Forrester
The Ravens are heading to Cincinnati for a football game on Sunday.
And they’re going to try and win.
As they should.
There will be plenty of people this week who suggest that John Harbaugh should rest the bulk of his starting 22 for the upcoming season finale against the Bengals. Those folks will say “No way New England is losing to Miami” or “There’s no reason to risk a starter in a game that doesn’t matter” or “The number one goal is to be healthy for playoffs.”
Those are also the same folks who strolled into M&T Bank with a smirk on their face back on December 2 when Charlie Batch led the Steelers to town and said to anyone who would listen, “We’re not going to lose to Charlie Batch, obviously.”
Full disclosure: I was one of those people…but I didn’t have a smirk on my face as I walked into the stadium.
But I won’t be one of those goofs this week who recommends that the Ravens lay down in Cincinnati. John Harbaugh hasn’t had the greatest December of his coaching career, but he’s getting this one right. He must direct the Ravens to head to the Queen City fully intent on winning the game and, perhaps, securing the number three seed in the AFC.
To do anything else other than put your best AVAILABLE team on the field would make zero sense.
The word “available” above is in ALL CAPS for a reason. Harbaugh shouldn’t play anyone who wouldn’t normally play in the game. In other words, you simply put the 53 men out there who are healthy enough to play in an NFL game. If Anquan Boldin’s shoulder is sore and he can’t practice Thursday and Friday, you sit him out of the Cincy game. But if he practices and can play, he suits up and plays.
Saying “they should rest the guys who are banged up” is silly, because you’d be telling about 15 players not to play on Sunday. At this time of the season, nearly every starter or 35-snap a game back-up has an ailment that could use a couple of weeks of rest. But, as the saying goes, there’s no rest for the weary.
So, Harbaugh should treat this game just like he plans for an early October contest. The 53 players who can go, go.
Because as far as the Ravens go, the most important thing for them in the upcoming post-season can be summed up in two words. ”Home Field”. I’ve paid attention to the Ravens this season and they’re nothing if not completely mysterious on the road. At home, they’re a threat to beat anyone. Away, they’re liable to stink it up worse than the Rolling Stones did at the 12/12/12 concert for Sandy relief.
They will either go into the post-season as the 3rd or 4th seed. That means the maximum amount of home games they can play in the playoffs would be two. They get a home game on either Jan. 5 or 6, then play on the road the following weekend if they win the opener in Baltimore. Somehow, if the wild card teams win their games (which, if you check over the last five years, happens enough to never say never), the Ravens could wind up hosting the AFC title game. Remember back in 2006 when the Colts beat the Ravens in Baltimore? Guess who hosted the AFC championship game the following week when New England – the four seed – eliminated San Diego? Right…the Colts. Guess who went to the Super Bowl and won a couple of weeks after that? Correct again, if you said “Colts”.
So — while the possibility still exists that your team could host the AFC title game, you go 100% in an effort to better your position on the chance you wind up getting the championship game in your building.
It’s that simple, really.
(Please see next page)
Posted on 22 September 2012 by jeffreygilley
When the Baltimore Ravens line up against the New England Patriots Sunday night, the Ravens will be looking for revenge. The Patriots ended the Ravens season in the AFC Championship but the Ravens had many chances to win the game. Joe Flacco outplayed Brady and the defense bailed him out of the rare mistakes and reads he did not make.
Although the Ravens will be looking for revenge, this game does not hold any real significance come Monday morning. Sure, both of these teams are considered Super Bowl contenders but the season is still young. This game does however, have the potential to determine the playoff standings come the end of the regular season.
Throughout the first two weeks of the 2012 season, the Ravens and Patriots have not lived up to expectations. Both had a disappointing week two loss and have not been particularly good in their areas of usual strength. The Patriots added new weapons in the offseason such as Brandon Lloyd. Although Brady has new pieces to work with, the offense has showcased the explosive potential they are capable of. The Ravens on the other hand have struggled defensively. The defense gave up 371 passing yards to Michael Vick and struggled defending the Bengals rushing attack in week one.
Many are picking the Ravens to win this game, and I hope they are right but I dont see the Ravens winning this game. Tom Brady doesn’t lose back to back games and the Patriots have improved defensively. The loss of Aaron Hernandez will prove to be significant though. Hernandez can play every skill position on offense and with his absence, the Patriots and Tom Brady are going to have to be more creative. I expect the Patriots to spread the Ravens out and force the Ravens to play in space.
If the Ravens want to win this game, they will have to stop Rob Gronkowski. They have the cornerback depth to deal with the Patriots receivers but their linebacking core is a different story. Many of the Ravens outside linebackers are young and inexperienced. Paul Kruger and Albert McClellan will have to play well in run and pass defense.
Although the Ravens outside linebackers are young, I think Courtney UpShaw has a chance to have a breakout game. He wont play as much seeing as Paul Kruger is healthy but he has a chance to make a big impact on this game. The Patriots will be so focused on stopping Haloti Ngata that Upshaw, when playing on third downs, will not be facing many double teams. Look for UpShaw to have a good game.
Last time the Patriots played in Baltimore, they were undefeated but the Ravens almost pulled off the upset of the century. All of the recent games between the Patriots and Ravens have been very close and this game will be no different. In my opinion, the Patriots will win this game by a field goal but I really hope I am wrong. Having Arthur and Chandler Jones playing for opposing teams will make this game much more interesting.
Posted on 21 September 2012 by Drew Forrester
Talk about a chance to kill two birds with one stone.
The Ravens not only get an opportunity to atone for last week’s final five minutes of embarrassment in Philadelphia, but they can re-establish themselves as a legitimate contender in the AFC this Sunday night when the Patriots come strolling in for a national TV affair with John Harbaugh’s team.
The Ravens need a win. I guess it would be better if the Browns were Sunday’s opponent, but that’s not the way the schedule makers saw week #3 playing out. So here come the Patriots, armed with wonder-boy at quarterback, a beefed up pass-catching corps and, apparently, an improved defense.
The Ravens, as you know, are seeking to rebound from a horrible loss to the Eagles, where the defense caved in with under five minutes remaining and the offense couldn’t go fifty yards with two time-outs in their pocket in the game’s last 120 seconds.
It should be a helluva game.
And, as is always the case when the Ravens face a top opponent in Baltimore on national TV, Ray Lewis and the gang will be fired-freakin’-up.
I know you’re waiting – impatiently, by now – to see two things: 1) My pick for the game 2) Bill’s comment and attempted personal destruction of me and my character in the “comments section” below.
I’ll give you #1 right now. I’m sure you’ll see #2 shortly.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the Ravens aren’t winning Sunday night.
Everything sort-of points to Baltimore winning, actually. They’re playing at home, where they haven’t lost since December of 2010, twelve games ago. In other words, no matter who comes to town, the Ravens don’t lose at M&T Bank Stadium. It would also make sense to assume the Ravens’ offense can’t sputter and spit like a ’73 Vega on Sunday night. After all, they had a week to get a tune-up after last Sunday’s sub-par second half. By now, Cam, Joe and the rest of the offense have it all figured out, right?
Yes, it makes sense to figure the Ravens are going to win. As I noted above, they’ll be fired up beyond belief. But “fired up” doesn’t really matter once the third quarter rolls around. If Tiger Woods showed up to play me one-on-one at Mountain Branch, I’d be fired up for that. I might make a birdie or two out of the gate. But when the dust settled and we were shaking hands on the 18th green, he’d have a 63 on his scorecard and I’d have my tail between my legs.
Remember this before I tell you what’s going to happen on Sunday: NO ONE, including you, knows what will transpire on Sunday night. If you knew what was going to happen on Sunday night, you’d bet $100,000 on it and be a rich man. So would I.
But I *think* the Ravens are losing on Sunday night for one simple reason — the Baltimore defense isn’t all that good and the great #12 and his merry cast of characters will expose that fact on Sunday.
Without the ability to chase the quarterback around, the Ravens can’t beat the Patriots. In two games thus far, Baltimore’s pass rush has been relatively non-existent. In pass coverage, the purple linebacking group can’t do squat. And as long as Brady doesn’t do something dumb like try and pick on Lardarius Webb, he should have a field day exposing the dynamic duo of Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith on “the other side”. I think New England will run the ball 24 times just to say they did it. But they’ll throw it 40 times because they can.
I’m going to assume the Baltimore offense will bounce back on Sunday and have a decent night against the Patriots. I know the final two minutes was ugly last week in Philly, but that was then, this is now. At home, Joe Flacco and Company will bounce back.
But the Ravens defense won’t be able to handle New England’s offense for 60 minutes.
New England wins 24-20.
I sure hope I’m wrong.
Posted on 26 August 2012 by Drew Forrester
I remember that scene like it was yesterday.
Ed Reed put on a pair of wildy oversized headphones, threw his bag over his shoulder and started singing a song about Jesus as he exited the Ravens locker room out of small back door that concealed the fact he was leaving without addressing the media.
Lee Evans sat at his locker, uniform still on, staring straight ahead, saying nothing. It struck me for a moment that perhaps a player or two might literally have to undress him and force him into the shower so the plane could eventually leave the airport in Boston.
Joe Flacco dressed quietly, but his face didn’t show any obvious signs of distress. He’s always Captain Cool, even in the midst of the second excruciating AFC championship of his young career.
And Sam Koch held court with a few members of the media, repeating time after time, “everything was fine…right up until the ball was kicked…then I don’t know what happened.” His voice trailed off as he realized how close the Ravens had come to forcing overtime with the now-famous 32 yard “chip shot” that Billy Cundiff pulled wide left in the waning seconds of last January’s 23-20 loss to New England.
I remember Matt Birk saying to me, “I feel sorry for these guys. They busted their ass all year. And today. We took it down to the last second. It just wasn’t meant to be.” I loved that Birk said “I feel sorry for these guys” as if he was watching over them.
But the thing I remember most about the aftermath of that loss?
Unlike Reed, who snuck out, Cundiff busted through the doors of the interview room and said – in so many words – “here I am”.
Cundiff then addressed the media for upwards of 20 minutes, answering every question with dignity and grace in the heat of what certainly was his toughest moment as a professional athlete.
(Please see next page)
Posted on 25 January 2012 by Thyrl Nelson
As I look ahead to the Super Bowl with far less excitement than I had at this time last week, I’ll begrudgingly admit that while not as interesting as the Ravens projected to be the Patriots and Giants match up in the big game is an interesting one and worth looking forward to. It is after all a chance to revisit the defining match up of the most important season in recent NFL history (in my opinion) with plenty of other storylines to be gathered along the way.
With some of those storylines in mind I present my ideal octet for Super Bowl companionship, or the 8 people I’d most like to have in a room for this year’s Super Bowl.
I’d like to see Manning’s emotions up close as his brother goes for a second ring (or one more than Peyton has) against the rival against whom Peyton will most often be measured in Tom Brady. I wonder if there’s just a little hater in him.
Call this pick the hater in me, as I’d love to sit next to Rex (with my shoes on of course) as he watches the two proverbial bears that he poked this season compete for the trophy he once again guaranteed to deliver himself. Rex may have been right in promising New York a Super Bowl this season, but he can’t be happy about it.
Speaking of haters, why not bring Eli Manning’s biggest basher to the celebration? We’ll be serving plenty of humble pie at my fictional gathering it seems.
Posted on 24 January 2012 by Tom Federline
This time it was the Ravens on the short end. The Ravens earned a “loss” and were back in Owings Mills packing up for the winter. The New England Patriots earned a “win” and are headed to Indianapolis Irsay Land. Did both teams really earn their loss or the win? Did the Ravens take some lessons from the Texans and just felt it is better to give than receive? The New England Whiners were given a gift. The Ravens played better than anticipated. The Ravens played their best game since the 49′er game during Thanksgiving. The road to Indy was there for the taking. The story line written – Baltimore wins Super Bowl in Indianapolis, Ray-Ray and Ed were going out in glory. Then in the matter of 10 seconds – Yank – wide left, game over, Ravens lose.
Ray Lewis after the game – “One play doesn’t win or lose you the game.” Hey Ray-Ray, guess what? One play DID lose the game. I understand the premise he was trying to convey. We understand and saw what happened in the 59 minutes and 40 seconds prior to The Yank. We also saw the drive, the drop, the missed field goal, the season ending - one play. To much talk on the Lee Evans – one play - dropped/batted ball, missed chance. I’m not buying it. I try to minimize the words should, could and would in my vocabulary. Does he get paid to catch a ball? You’re darn right. Did he try?You’re darn right. Was the play well defended. You’re darn right. Bottom line, missed field goal, season over.
Enough, let’s look to the future. Retiring – Matt Birk (center – ouch), Ed Reed (DB on field caoch – HOF – ouch). Ray Lewis (well according to Ray-Ray 2 hours after the game – he’s not). Contracts expired – Camera Cameron (I’ll buy the one way ticket OUT), Ray Jr., Jarrett Johnson, Jameel McClain, Ben Grubbs (git ‘er done), Flacco (1 year left – git ‘er done – contract extension). And please Ozzie/Bisciotti – NO five year, 15 million dollar place kicker contract! Oh, you already made that rocknut move. What kind of cigars were you smokin’, when you made that decision? Yes, Raven fans, the guy who squashed the opportunity to go to Iindianapolis and win a Super Bowl, was signed to a 5 year deal in January of 2011. At 3 mil/year which is about $150,000/game. Does that make you feel better? Doesn’t that just make you feel sorry for poor Billy Bob? Prior to 2010 season, Billy Bob Yanker was a journeyman. One good year, cash in to “highest” bidder and boom you’re set. Five year contract to a journeyman kicker? More evidence of what is wrong with professional sports.
I think the Ravens should retire the #7 , because there hasn’t been any luck with jersey No. 7 in this Baltimore town. Remember Chris Redman and Kyle Booler? Am I missing any other Ravens #7? All that talent on the field, all that talent actually playing together as a unit, all that talent surviving teh Cameron and Horribaugh era. Then a missed field goal. Kinda like screwin’ up your country’s National Anthem. It’s just not right. Nice move Steven Tyler - make “American ” Idol proud. Serves you right for wearing the New England Whiners cloth.
Sundays playoff game was painful. If you are surfing on the web, do not, I repeat do not, watch that last drive and end result, again. You may need some “Emotional Rescue” – (Rolling Stones). I did watch it again, I’m surprised the computer survived. So, last year (2010) we got to savor the Pittsburgh loss, 31-24. In(2009) it was the Indy Irsays, 20-3. In (2008) Pittsburgh loss again, 23-14. In (2006) Indy Irsays loss again, 15-6. Kinda sick of the pattern, aren’t you? At least the Ravens are in the playoffs. Nah, not buying that. Players like Ray Lewis come around once in a blue moon, especially landing in Baltimore. Hey Ravens front office , ya done blown it. This 2011 team and the 2006 campaign – had the most talent since the Super Bowl team of 2000. The table was set, no meal delivered.
Is it the Trent Dilfer curse?