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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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Another September with the disappearing orange baseball…

Posted on 11 September 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

I looked through all of the WNST blogs over the past couple days and there has been a one glaring omission: the Orioles are nowhere to be found.

Playing out the string for the 11th consecutive September – the franchise hasn’t hosted a meaningful game since October 1997 – the worst-run and meanest and most paranoid franchise in professional sports has now put together another pathetic crawl to the finish line with a 3-17 record since the middle of August.

It’s been the quietest “slump” in the history of Baltimore baseball. No one is saying anything. No one is calling. And, apparently, no one is even watching.

Every night this week, I’ve seen downtown almost completely empty while I’ve watched Fenway Park on NESN packed with fans watching the Tampa Bay Rays come to Beantown as upstart first-place winners. I’m watching baseball this week. I’m just not watching the pathetic Orioles.

Maybe one day it’ll be our turn to win at baseball again in Baltimore. Maybe one day we’ll all feel like the Orioles are “our” team. But we’re getting up on the two-year anniversary of FREE THE BIRDS and the Orioles are 16 games under .500, 23 games behind Tampa Bay and are assured a last place finish in the AL East.

I’m sure Andy McPhail will hold a press conference at some point before spring training to talk about all of the “progress” the organization made in 2008. And they’ll invite all of their employees like Roch Kubatko and Tom Davis and Jim Hunter and Amber Theoharis to the press conference to ask questions.

But it’s just sad and I wish I had more to say about the Orioles and their recent losses. But the truth? I haven’t been watching them either.

Why would I?

They don’t want me to be a fan and they’ve basically pissed on anyone who listens to WNST or is associated with WNST time and time again. They refused to let us BUY tickets to their game back on August 8th when we were holding our 10th Anniversary of serving Baltimore sports fans with something that they sorely lack: honesty and integrity.

Like you (and most of the city), I’m caught up in “Flaccomania” and drinking the 1-0 purple Kool Aid. I’m just hoping the storm doesn’t crush Texas over the next 48 hours but the forecast looks ominous. I have a flight to Houston on Sunday. I have no idea when, where or if the game will be played at this point.

I have a feeling we’ll find out more today.

But I just wanted to invoke the word “Orioles” today and see if any of you are still watching or what might be said at this point about the franchise or where it’s headed under Dave Trembley next season.

Where’s Peter Angelos now to comment on this year’s effort? Has he entered the witness protection program along with his franchise?

And Andy McPhail – who turns out to be a company man/coward – has yet again declined to take my phone calls and emails so I could interview him about his plans for the offseason. He has been a colossal professional disappointment to me, telling me a few weeks ago when I met him: “I just do what I’m told, Nestor.” King Peter and Prince Greg have told him he shouldn’t “associate” with WNST.

What a leader he is, huh?

Other than selling a few orange T-shirts this year using Bill Hagy’s name and marketing a few kids named Scott and Jones, it’s been “business as usual” at The Warehouse.

And business as usual means lousy, dreadful baseball played in front of friends and families at Oriole Park at Camden Yards the nanosecond the word “training camp” is uttered. And MASN brings us some of the worst broadcasts in the history of baseball on the nights when Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer aren’t around.

(Have no fear: MASN will be firing up Hawaiian League baseball and no doubt be broadcasting the Mike Devereaux home run game from 1989 on some frigid night in December.)

We’ll see how the Orioles treat their offseason marketing efforts. I wonder what they’ll do to further make their FanFast lousy. And I wonder when they’ll announce the price increase for tickets. And I wonder when they’re going to start using some of the tens of millions of dollars they’re making with that Wayne’s World cable network.

Don’t worry. Once I get this website launched, we’ll be on red alert for their offseason comings and goings. We’ll be covering the Orioles in a major way in the new online world.

Just because most of you have long since stopped caring about the Orioles doesn’t mean that we’re not watching.

I care A LOT about the Orioles and I want them back. And I want to go to games and feel good about it. None of that has changed since FREE THE BIRDS. My love for the Orioles is sincere and lifelong.

I’m still watching them, just not their lousy meaningless games at this point. And I’m still hoping and praying for a better tomorrow for Baltimore baseball.

But now that the team has bought off virtually every media outlet in the community besides us, I don’t think you’ll be reading the proper criticism of a franchise that has turned its back on the community. That is everywhere except at WNST.net, where you’ll continue to get the truth.

They’ll have to do more than “BALTIMORE” on the road jerseys next year to get the city galvanized again.

But we’ll have our eyes open.

Let’s see what they do…

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NFL week 1 leftovers

Posted on 10 September 2008 by Keith Melchior

I haven’t heard many talk shows this week, but when I have listened I got the consensus that a majority of the callers were ready to anoint Joe Flacco the next Johnny U. I have 2 things to say, one game does not a career make and remember Stony Case and how everyone though he was the next best thing to sliced bread.

I was impressed by Flacco’s ability to run the offense Sunday. He was nearly flawless, even though his numbers weren’t all that good at 15-29 for 129 yards and a 64.7 QB rating. He showed poise, presence and patience and ran the offense like a 10 year veteran. The O-line was impressive and pushed the Bengalscar defense around all day. Flacco ran the no huddle efficiently and when time was on their side, he handed the ball off and let McClain carry the load..(when was the last time a fullback led the team in rushing?)

The defense dominated Carson Palmer. When was the last time he threw for only 99 yards and had a QB rating of 34.5? Cincinnati had a whopping 154 total yards. Take away those 2 phantom DPI calls against McAlister and they turned in a 2000-like performance (well, let’s not go there) in holding the Bungles to 2-13 on 3rd down and only 3 points.

That could have easily been a 28-3 beat down and this Ravens team must learn how to put opponents they are dominating away early and nail the lid closed so mistakes, like the Todd Heap fumble and dropped TD pass along with the Ray Rice fumble don’t come back to bite them and change the momentum of the game. The defense came up huge after the Heap fumble put them on a short field. No way the game was as close as the 17-10 final, but again, they need to learn how to finish teams off early and not give them a chance to pull off a fluke win.

Now they head to Houston and face a Texans team that was embarrassed on the road in Pittsburgh. Houston was suppose to be a team of the future. Let’s hope their future begins on September 21st

Other NFL ponderings…

ESPN MNF broadcast…thumbs down to the 3 stooges. If I heard one Brett Favre comparison, I heard 30. They need to learn when to shut up and call the game at hand and stop dwelling on the past. I am glad the Packers won. A huge monkey is off Aaron Rodgers back, but let’s wait and see how he fares on the road against the Lions. One game does not a career make.

Speaking of the Lions, wasn’t Atlanta supposed to suck this year? They go out ang hang up 31 on Detroit and make Matt Ryan and Michael Turner look like Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James. Again, one game does not a career make, but then again, you and I could look like those 2 guys against the Lions.

I wrote in my predictions a week or so ago that Marvin Lewis would be fired after this season. Well, he is 0-1 and faces a tough Tennessee team this week then follows @ Giants, Cleveland, @Dallas, @ Jets and Pittsburgh. An 0-7 or 1-6 start could quickly turn WHO DEY? into OOOH DEY SUCK AGAIN.

Are the Colts as bad as they looked Sunday night in losing to Da Bears? Can Chicago be THAT good and dominant or was it Peyton Manning rust from not playing in the preseason? Maybe the Colts are getting a little long in the tooth. When was the last time they lost an opener…and at home no less? Seems like at least 10 years.

Tom Brady is out for the season…shame. Only ones who care other than Patriots fans are those who have him on a fantasy team. Was that payback for Bill Belichek? Can he turn Matt Cassel into the next Tom Brady? How will they fare Sunday in the big apple against Brett’s Jets? This will be huge division test for both teams. The AFC East is considered fairly weak after the Patriots. With Brady out, it is open season and everyone now has a shot at taking the division title, even the lowly Dolphins.

Another interesting matchup this week is the Cowgirls against the Iggles. Early bragging rights on the line in a division where 3 teams could be 12-4 or 11-5. And sorry Redskins fan, they won’t be one of those teams. Not this year.

Thats all for now..Have a good week!

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Highlights of Coach Harbaugh’s press conference

Posted on 08 September 2008 by caseywillett

Coach Harbaugh wrapped up his first Monday regular season press conference. Here are some news and notes from today:
- All though Coach Harbaugh hinted yesterday that he was non committal to who his starting quarterback will be on Sunday, today he said it is Joe Flacco. He said yesterday that he meant for the entire season.
- No new news on the injury front. Coach Harbaugh said that he will know more as the week goes on. Cory Ivy was in the locker room and said he fully expects to play on Sunday.
- Willie Anderson will play on Sunday, but Coach Harbaugh was not willing to say in what role or how much.
- Coach Harbaugh gave a lot of praise to the job that Coach Rex Ryan, Coach Cameron, and Coach Rosburg, did in game planning.
- Coach Harbaugh also spoke highly of Todd Heap and the job that he did blocking yesterday.
- Coach Harbaugh said the fans were unbelievable yesterday and that it was very hard to hear down on the field, for the coaches, players, and everyone, but it was a good thing.
- The players dumped two Gatorade jugs on Coach Harbaugh at the end of the game. He said to him, that was the team accepting him as a member of the Ravens.
- Coach Harbaugh said that the two early sacks on Carson Palmer were huge, but the hits he took later in the game were also a big part of that. He also talked about the job that the back end of the defense did in covering and not allowing anything to come open.

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Tales from the Bengals side

Posted on 08 September 2008 by caseywillett

Here are some notes and quotes from the Bengals perspective:

On the Bengals offense: “We just suck on offense right now,” wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh said (Cincinnati Enquirer)

The offense was depressing: “It’s a tad bit, you know, depressing,” right guard Bobbie Williams (Cincinnati Enquirer)

Houshmandzadeh says he was part of the problem: “It just goes back to us offensively not playing well,” Houshmandzadeh said. “I’m on offense, so I’m part of the equation.” (Cincinnati Enquirer)

Ocho Cinco says it was all about the Ravens defense: “Based on what Baltimore did, they weren’t going to allow me to catch anything,” Ocho Cinco said. “If we were going to win or compete in this game it was going to be through the running game.”(Cincinnati Enquirer)

Carson Palmer not feeling well after game: “It’s a sick feeling; it will be a sicker feeling when we have to watch the film,” Palmer said. “The only positive is it’s Game 1.” (Cincinnati Enquirer)

Palmer gives credit to Jarrett Johnson on shovel pass stop: “Like he knew it was coming,” Palmer said of Johnson’s play. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

Palmer calls it like it is: “We got beat. We got outplayed. It was just an ugly game offensively,” Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer (Dayton Daily News)

Houshmandzadeh blames the offense for the loss: “We just suck on offense right now. That’s terrible. We can’t move the ball. We can’t get a first down. We can’t run. We can’t throw. The defense played great, and we just didn’t play good on offense, bottom line.”

Houshmandzadeh liked the Bengals chances going into the game: “If you were allowed to bet,” Houshmandzadeh said, “I would have bet a lot we would have won.” (Bengals.com)

Palmer says Jarret Johnson made an unbelievable play: “That’s our bread and butter; that’s what we want to do,” he said. “We have big, physical offensive linemen, and [the Ravens] did a good job pinching the gaps and hitting us in the backfield. It feels like nine out of 10 times, it’s a play that goes our way … Jarret Johnson made an unbelievable play when I believe it was fourth-and-two, the quick shovel pass that we ran. He looked like he knew it was coming. He played it like he knew it was coming. He just went straight for the tailback. Normally, that guy is a lot farther outside, so he did a good job reading the play and making the play and getting us off the field.” (Bengals.com)

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Ravens Dominate Bengals

Posted on 08 September 2008 by Ed Frankovic

Ravens Pound Bengals

The Ravens whipped the Bengals today using a great running game, a physical and intimidating defense, and a high energy effort – something that surprised many fans and media in this town, including myself. However, watching the way the Ravens players went at it today I don’t think they were surprised with their performance and that bodes well for this team going forward, if they can stay healthy. Confidence is a huge thing in sports and this football team has to have that after dominating Cincy today with a young offensive line, a rookie QB, and a rookie RB. The Bengals were a team that had given the Ravens fits the last several years but today the Baltimore Birds put a beat down on Marvin Lewis’ gang.

Here are some of my thoughts on the game today:

-    So just how hurt are Ed Reed, Chris McAlister, and Samari Rolle because they looked pretty healthy today? The Ravens are clearly a different football team when those 3 guys are on the field. Is it possible the Ravens were just being overly cautious with each of them this pre-season or are they really on the verge of being knocked out for several weeks this season or their careers (as we’ve heard about Reed)? I hope our man Casey Willett can get the scoop on this because a healthy secondary is definitely the difference between this team contending for a playoff spot versus the team likely playing for a high draft spot. Reed’s coverage on T.J. Houshmandzadeh early in the game that led to C-Mac’s interception is the type of play that turns a game around.

-    It was great to see the Ravens power running game back. Baltimore got most of their yards behind the strength of their offensive line in center Jason Brown and guards Marshal Yanda and Ben Grubbs. Ray Rice had a very good game except for his costly fumble, but he is a rookie and we’ll let him slide on that one. Le’Ron McClain was outstanding dragging tacklers all day for significant yardage. Bottom line: the Ravens offensive line teed off on the Bengals defensive line all day something we hadn’t really seen around here since 2003 when Jamal Lewis almost broke the NFL single season rushing record.

-    The play of Joe Flacco in total was very good. His TD run was just incredible but we can’t expect him to do that very often (btw, what a great block by Jason Brown on that run!). As for his pocket presence, it was superb! Fellow blogger Chris Pika pointed out that Joe only got hit 1 time in 75 plays meaning the o-line did a good job of blocking and Flacco did a very good job of feeling pressure when it came and moving away from it. As for his throws, I can only think of a couple that were off. #5 under threw Mark Clayton in the first half on a deep pass that if made properly would have been a TD and another time while scrambling out of the pocket he badly overthrew an open Clayton in the flat. Overall I have to give Flacco an A for his performance today.

-    The receivers stepped up today! It was great to see Mark Clayton back and playing at a high level. He can be a dangerous player and he was very good today. Derrick Mason was his usual solid self and he is a great leader for the younger guys. I’ve never met Mason but he seems like a real class act. Another thing the receivers did well was with their run blocking. You can’t run the ball that well without help from the WR’s.

-    I still think that the block in the back call on Yamon Figurs punt return was a very borderline to bad call. It appeared that the Ravens player (I think it was Frank Walker) hit the Bengals punter in the shoulder although from the referees angle he probably saw one of Walker’s hands on the punters back so he threw the flag.

-    Bart Scott and the rest of the Ravens linebackers were phenomenal today. I singled out Scott because he had a tough season last year and he looked more like his 2006 form today. Terrell Suggs, Jason Johnson, and Ray Lewis were all over the field all day and Rex Ryan has to be very proud of that crew.

-    Biggest disappointment of the day: TE Todd Heap. He dropped an easy TD in the second quarter that would have put the Ravens up 14-0 and his fumble in the opening minutes was reminiscent of some of his past ones. That fumble reminded me of the one he had in the Indy playoff game in January 2007 and someone has got to get Heap to stop leaving his feet with the ball under him because it is getting knocked out too much by the opposing team. Luckily for Heap the defense rose to the occasion and shut the Bengals offense down without any points after that turnover (I also think they ended up breaking Carson Palmer’s nose).

-    Coaching: WOW! Clearly the players were energized and how cool was it to see the offense run a “no huddle” sequence? That clearly confused the heck out of Cincinnati. The double reverse was a major risk/reward play so with Clayton going to the house Cam Cameron looks like a genius on that call.

Overall, it was a great day for the purple and black and the doubters have to be re-thinking their pre-season prognostications after this performance (myself included). As I said in the opening, if the Ravens stay healthy this team can contend for a playoff spot based on what I saw today. But this is only week one and right now this team needs to focus on just getting better each week. Next week will be a tough game going to Houston to face a Texans team that had their jocks handed to them by the Pittsburgh Steelers today. As our old coach told us time and time again: “Winning on the road in the NFL is one of the toughest thing to do in sports.”

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6-pack review and post game

Posted on 08 September 2008 by caseywillett

Here is a look back at my 6-pack game preview and some post game thoughts:
  1. Give Joe time- At times today, it seemed like Flacco had all day to look down the field and make plays. Not being sacked one time today speaks highly of the job that the offensive line did for him. Flacco completed 15 passes to seven different receivers, eight to the wide outs, six to the running backs, and one to a tight end.
  1. Keep drives going – The Ravens today kept the ball for 36:15. A big part of that was due to their ability to convert on third downs. The Ravens were 9-17 53%, on third downs today. LeRon McClain converted on third down four of the nine times. The Ravens got the ball with 7:15 left to go in the game and never gave it back to the Bengals. In that time they ran the ball 10 times, threw one pass, and took two knees to end the game.
  1. Find Ben Utecht - Utecht finished the day with two catches for 10 yards. Ben had to stay in most of the time to help pass protect for Carson Palmer.
  1. Get to Carson – The Ravens were giving Palmer all kind of looks early on in the game. Here is how Palmers first quarter went: sack (Justin Bannan), sack (Jarrett Johnson), two runs, a completed pass, and was intercepted. Several members of the Bengals media, said they do not remember seeing Palmer that rattled in a long, long, time. Matter of fact, today was the first time since week 17 of the 2005 season that Palmer has been held under 100yds passing in a regular season game.
  1. Don’t play their game- Besides Samari Rolle throwing the football after his interception that ended up never happening, the Ravens played smart football as it relates to unsportsmanlike penalties. Several times during the game there were some flare ups between players and pushing and shoving. Every time Ravens players would grab their teammate and pull them away from the situation. In the past penalties for late hits, unsportsmanlike conduct and other things would have cost the Ravens.
  1. Special teams has to be special – Sam Koch did yet another excellent job of pinning the Bengals deep. Koch does not get the credit he deserves for his punting ability, but he came up with some huge punts today. Yamon Figurs also had a huge day with some nice returns. There was a very questionable block in the back call on what would have been Figurs punt return for a touchdown. Figurs also deserves credit for being a gunner on special teams and making a great open field tackle on Chatman of the Bengals for a one yard loss.
-The Ravens locker room was an interesting place to be after the game. Watching the guys walk up the tunnel and into the locker room was a very interesting scene. Ray Lewis embraced quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson who had a huge grin on his face. You could hear the team applauding, cheering, and celebrating, across the hall in the media room even with the locker room doors closed.
-Several Ravens players said that the Bengals defense almost had a look on their face that they could not believe that the Ravens were moving the ball at will on them. There was definitely a swagger with the offense today.
-The Bengals were not pleased with their performance, “we sucked”, said Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, “we got beat on two b.s. plays”, was how John Thornton summed up the day for the Bengals defense. I know it is early, but Marvin Lewis might be the leader in the clubhouse of a coach on the hot seat after week 1.

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That…was a beat-down.

Posted on 07 September 2008 by Drew Forrester

Don’t let the 17-10 final score fool you.

That was an ass-kicking the Ravens gave the Bengals today.

Invigorated by some Cam Cameron wizardry, the Ravens kept the Bengals defense guessing all day and Joe Flacco looked more like a veteran than his counterpart, Carson Palmer.

When the Ravens needed to run it, they did. And when the Bengals needed to run it, they couldn’t. And the Ravens defense stiffened at the right time, highlighted by a Haloti Ngata stuff on a 4th down try midway through the final quarter that preserved the 17-10 win.

But it was only 17-10 by score.

Ravens…21 first downs – Bengals…8.

Ravens were 9-17 on 3rd down conversions – Bengals were 2-13.

Ravens had 229 yards rushing – Bengals had 65.

The Ravens controlled the clock, controlled the flow and, for the most part, just looked like they wanted it more than the Bengals.

If that’s the best effort Cincinnati can give, they should ALL think about changing their last names and starting fresh.

Carson Palmer was ineffective, Houshmanwhatever and Chad Whatever offered very little and, overall, the Bengals offense sputtered.

The Ravens offense wasn’t exactly an 8-cylinder engine, but two of the key components (Flacco and Rice) were playing in their first pro game…and Baltimore’s offense STILL outplayed the veteran Bengals offense.

Don’t let the scoreboard fool you.

This one wasn’t all that close.

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Ravens – Bengals 6-pack

Posted on 07 September 2008 by caseywillett

Here is my 6-pack of things to look for in today’s Ravens – Bengals game
  1. Give Joe time: With a rookie quarterback in Joe Flacco, a hurt if playing at all running back in Willis McGahee, a backup rookie running back in Ray Rice, and still a questionable offensive line, I expect the Bengals will throw everything they can at Joe Flacco early until he can beat the pressure. The Bengals linebackers coach Jeff Fitzgerald is the former Ravens linebackers coach, and knows the players on offense, especially the line. It will be huge today for Lorenzo Neal, and LeRon McClain, to pick up the blitzes and other schemed the Bengals will throw at Flacco. The offensive line will have to hold up, the offense can not afford to have to have Todd Heap or Dan Wilcox stay back on every play to help pass protect.
  1. Keep drives going: This is going to be a huge part of what the Ravens offense will have to do today. The Bengals defense is not that great, and it will be key to keep them out there as long as possible. By having long sustained drives, not only does it keep the Bengals defense on the field, it keeps the Ravens defense on the bench, and more importantly keeps Carson Palmer and that high powered offense on the sidelines. Mark Clayton told me this week that the one big key for them is to convert on 3rd down and not get in 3rd and long situations.
  1. Find Ben Utecht: As much as the Bengals wide receiving corp gets talked about, and rightfully so, the off season addition of Ben Utecht was a big pickup for the Bengals.  Ben will be a big part of what the Bengals will do today. He may not finish with 100+ yards or three touchdowns, but he will be the guy to come up with some key catches for the Ravens. He will become to Carson Palmer what Dallas Clark is to Peyton Manning. A guy who can line up almost any where and make that big reception for them. He will also cause match up problems for the Ravens defense.
  1. Get to Carson: With Kelly Gregg doubtful for this game, and Haloti Ngata still nursing a knee injury, it will be key but a little harder for the Ravens to get pressure on Palmer. Terrell Suggs will have his hands full with his former Sun Devil friend Levi Jones. Trevor Pryce will be a key to getting after Palmer and applying the pressure. Palmer will stand in the pocket and make you pay if you do not get to him quick enough. The linebacking corp of the Ravens can not be overly aggressive because that is when Ben Utecht and Chris Perry will hurt them in the passing game. Ravens have to get to Carson, hit him, knock him down, and not let him get comfortable in the pocket.
  1. Don’t play their game: It is no secret Chad Ocho Cinco loves to talk trash while he is on the field. TJ Houshmandzadeh can also do some good trash talking. Ocho Cinco has already made it known that he is going to be yelping at Dawan Landry and Bart Scott all day. Scott, Landry, and Chris McAlister, can not afford to let the talk get the best of them and get penalties for late hits. This is a game that Cinco, and Houshmandzadeh, will play with the Ravens and try to get them to retaliate.
  1. Special teams has to be special: It would be huge for the Ravens offense today if the special teams unit can give them a short field to work with. With a rookie quarterback, and injuries on the offense, the last thing they need is to have to be trying to go 60-80 yards ever offensive drive. On the other side of the coin, it will be huge for the special teams to force the Bengals to have to go 60-80 yards. The Bengals have the weapons that given the short field they will make you pay quickly, or get in position for Shayne Graham to give them points.
Final prediction: Bengals 27 – Ravens 20

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Hopes and fears for the 2008 Ravens

Posted on 07 September 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

On every barstool and at every dinner table in Baltimore, the question comes: “How do you think the Ravens are going to do this year?”

People ask me dozens of times a day everywhere I go around town. I’m not Kreskin, but the Las Vegas “over/under” line on wins is six.

As in 6-10.

Honestly, if you give me a dollar and make me bet on the Ravens at this point I’d take the under because I think they will need a myriad of positive developments to see 7-9.

So, in the spirit of debate and with the ability to have your feedback in the comments, I will make this column a simple “point/counterpoint” in hopes and fears format.

Hope: Ray Lewis can play at the same level he did last year for one more year in purple.

Fear: This team might be bad enough early enough that Lewis will go back to being a complainer and a divider instead of one who unites the team. We’ll see how the “walk” year goes.

Hope: Joe Flacco shows that he belongs in the NFL as a quality starting quarterback and shows the early signs you want to see from a rookie signal caller.

Fear: The offensive line and the skill position talent he is surrounded with won’t give him the opportunity or the protection to look like that skilled leader.

Hope: That Steve Bisciotti knew what he was doing when he fired Brian Billick on Dec 31st.

Fear: John Harbaugh’s new policies and strategies have offended some of the players waaaay more than anything Billick did.

Hope: Ed Reed and Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle will all perform up to the cap numbers that their salaries dictate.

Fear: All three of these guys never really make it to the field and make he kind of positive impact this season due to injury, indifference and a debilitating disease.

Hope: The Ravens home crowd will give the team the leeway a new coach, rookie quarterback and a bunch of second-string starters should have to attempt to improve.

Fear: (And almost a certainty), the M&T Bank faithfull will lustily boo Flacco (or any other quarterback) at every mistake, fumble, interception or any failure to convert a third down.

Hope: The Ravens will go back to becoming more honest and transparent with their information to the fans and media, like they were for 12 years under the Modell/Billick regime.

Fear: Under the John Harbaugh/Steve Bisciotti new school of information distribution, we’ll all be guessing and snooping around like we’ve been for six weeks now.

Hope: Kelly Gregg gets healthy soon.

Fear: Kelly Gregg’s knees are a lot worse than we know and he isn’t going to get healthy anytime soon.

Hope: The Ravens will beat the snot out of the Bengals today.

Fear: Carson Palmer will exploit the secondary all afternoon and miscommunication on the backside will cost the team dearly.

Hope: On Halloween (and maybe even Thanksgiving), the team is close enough to .500 and playing well enough to warrant at least a cursory discussion about 9 or 10 wins.

Fear: An injured, aging team with a rookie quarterback and rookie head coach stumbles out of the gate and starts the season 1-4 or 2-5 or something really dreary and hopeless.

Hope: The rookie class will step up and show the signs of life we’ve seen when the franchise has been at its low ebb (think 1997-98). Flacco, Gooden, Nakamura, Zbikowski, Rice – all of those guys need to contribute with the hope that they’ll be legitimate starters or Pro Bowl candidates in the coming seasons.

Fear: These rookies will have to play TOO much this season for the Ravens to be in any good in 2008.

Hope: That we all have fun this year.

Fear: I don’t have a lot of hope.

Have fun with the game today and let’s hope that our gut instincts are all wrong and the Ravens of 2008 take us on a surprise ride into the holiday season.

Wouldn’t that be great?

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