Tag Archive | "rolle"

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Live from Westminster: Ravens put 11 on “active” PUP to start camp

Posted on 28 July 2009 by Luke Jones

7:23 p.m. — The Ravens have waived former Terps receiver Isaiah Williams.

6:44 p.m. — Defensive back Derrick Martin made the defensive play of the afternoon, picking off a pass from John Beck during 7-on-7 drills.

Only two offensive linemen practiced today, Robby Felix and Bryan Mattison (the defensive coordinator’s son).  Offensive line coach John Matsko really worked the two linemen hard.

Newly-signed Jayson Foster jumped right in, snagging a pass after signing with the team today.  Foster’s signing was such a secret that many of the assistant coaches had to ask his name on the field.  He wore No. 18 today—with no name on the back.

Though Marshal Yanda is sporting a bulky brace on his knee, he was moving around fairly well on the sideline today.  He wasn’t as active as Ben Grubbs or Adam Terry in his running, but it was good seeing him moving around after the horrific knee injury he suffered in Indianapolis last season.

6:23 p.m. — The afternoon practice was pretty uneventful and similar to the morning workout.  It lasted about an hour and 15 minutes, though rookies stuck around for a little longer to work with special teams coach Jerry Rosburg.

The most exciting moments came from 7-on-7 drills when Joe Flacco connected on a 15-yard fade route to Demetrius Williams over defensive back Frank Walker.  With Williams now the projected No. 2 receiver, it was nice to see him making a play after spending a large portion of last season on injured reserve.

More to come in just a few moments.  Time to make my last Ravens Report of the day.

3:31 p.m. — The Ravens have just signed diminutive WR (hey, he’s 5-foot-7) Jayson Foster. Foster went to Georgia Southern and here’s his mini bio. He spent time in Denver and Pittsburgh and we’re still researching him. Even the PR folks in Westminster don’t know much about him. More to come…

2:52 p.m. — If you’re following WNST on Twitter, you just saw that free agent wide receiver Robert Ferguson told Glenn Clark he wants to play for the Ravens.  Ferguson will join Drew on the Comcast Morning Show on Wednesday at 9:40 a.m.

We give live “Tweets” from the field at McDaniel College throughout the morning and afternoon practices.  You can follow it here.

2:45 p.m. — We have less than an hour to go until the players are back out on the field for the afternoon workout.

Veterans will be reporting tomorrow and are scheduled to take their physicals at 3:00 p.m.  If you’re planning on attending training camp tomorrow, remember it will only be rookies, quarterbacks, and select veterans.  The remaining veterans will not be practicing on Wednesday.

1:48 p.m. — A name to keep an eye on during training camp is Jameel McClain.  The Syracuse linebacker came to Baltimore as a rookie free agent last season and really impressed coaches, earning a roster spot and playing time in the second-rated defense in the NFL.  His two safeties—a blocked punt and a sack of JaMarcus Russell—was a franchise record.

McClain has been moved to the inside linebacker position and will compete with Tavares Gooden.  While Gooden is the favorite to start next to Ray Lewis, McClain’s endless motor will make it nearly impossible to keep him off the field.

“The guys that work hard at this program are the guys that do the best and are [guys] who can have a chance to play,” Mattison said.  “That’s a real endorsement to our personnel people.  They saw some great things in him, and he just proved it throughout the year.  And I think he’s going to take off from here.”

1:42 p.m. — We heard from new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison after this morning’s practice.  He is pleased with the mix of experience and youth in his defense.  His top priority is to get the defense to play at the same high level the fans have come to expect every season.

He mentioned the “Raven” mentality and bar that has been set over the past decade.

Mattison also touched on the health of a secondary that had several players recovering from injuries dating back to last season.  He thought several of the players looked bigger and healthy.

12:18 p.m. — McGahee looks trimmer and feels healthy entering the preseason.  He emphasized to reporters that his placement on the PUP list is strictly precautionary.  The running back simply doesn’t want a repeat of last season.

When asked whether he lost weight, McGahee jokingly said “no comment.”  You can check out this interview in the WNST audio vault.

12:02 p.m. — John Harbaugh spoke to the media after the morning practice, describing the first workout as “good” and “crisp.”

Harbaugh talked about the improved strength and size of receiver Demetrius Williams.  It was Williams’ goal to become stronger and build muscle mass around the joints.  Harbaugh was pleased with how Williams looked in the morning.  With Derrick Mason currently retired, Williams is the project No. 2 receiver behind Mark Clayton.

The Ravens coach said the placement of McGahee on the PUP list is strickly a precautionary move after the running back underwent knee surgery in the offseason.

11:54 a.m. — The morning practice was very brief, lasting only 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Players were dressed in shorts, and there was no full-speed contact.

The player who drew the loudest applause from the crowd was wide receiver Mark Clayton who caught a long touchdown pass during offensive drills.  Rookie running back Cedric Peerman also grabbed a nifty one-handed catch.

Quarterback Joe Flacco looked pretty sharp in his first training camp workout, but the keystone moment for the former Delaware Blue Hen was actually an incomplete pass to running back Matt Lawrence who ran the incorrect pattern.  The second-year quarterback corrected his teammate, ran the play again, and completed the pass to Lawrence.  It was a simple example of the leadership Flacco has with this offense.

Veteran Kelly Gregg was back on the field and looks to be in great shape.  The nose tackle’s surgically-repaired knee was only wrapped in an ace bandage, a good sign for Greg Mattison’s defense.

11:43 a.m. — To clarify the PUP list a bit more, this list is referred to as the active PUP list.  These players are eligible to practice any time, and John Harbaugh even said some of them could be ready to go as early as tomorrow.  The purpose of this list is to keep these players eligible for the reserve PUP list—the one where players do not count against the 53-man roster but must miss the first six weeks of the regular season.

PUP list players still count against the 80-man training camp roster, so there is no added roster flexibility in regards to the preseason.

11:21 a.m. — The Ravens initial PUP’ers are Willis McGahee, Lamar Divens, Davon Drew, Yamon Figurs, Ben Grubbs, Adam Terry, Jason Phillips, Samari Rolle, Lou Saucedo, Marshal Yanda and Joe Reitz.

Definition of “physically unable to perform”: This List designates players with serious injuries that will keep them from being able to start a season on the 53-man protected list but may be able to return to the roster during the regular season. The players must be placed on this roster at or before the league-wide 65-man summer roster cutdown to be eligible for this designation, and they must stay on this list for at least the first six weeks of the regular season. After this time teams have 3 weeks to evaluate such players after which each such player must be placed on the 53-man roster, season-ending Injured Reserve (IR) or waivers.

Comments Off

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

To Draft or Not To Draft

Posted on 17 April 2009 by Nicholas Miskelly

To Draft or Not To Draft 

As draft day approaches I have begun to think in greater depth about what the Ravens should do with their first pick. The Ravens have traditionally been one of the best teams in the NFL when it comes to drafting and evaluating talent.  The great Ozzie Newsome always puts this team in the best possible position to draft value with a pick and never based on need.  He has done it again this year. 

After the season was over the Ravens had a lot of decisions to make.  They had to decide who to re-sign, who to let go, and for those who left, how would they be replaced?  We saw the likes of Bart Scott, Chris McAlister, Jason Brown, and Jim Leonhard all leave via free agency.  But after that we saw Ozzie reload as only Ozzie can.  He brought in Matt Birk at center, Foxworth at corner, and L.J Smith at tight end to sure up potential weaknesses or thin areas for the Ravens.  He also resigned Samari Rolle and signed Chris Carr to the team to make sure there was great depth in the secondary and coverage on the special teams unit.  Heading into the draft this team is complete and does not have any glaring need that must be addressed early in this draft.  Furthermore this team has a wealth of young talent that they did not have room for last year with the likes of Prescott Burgess and Tavares Gooden.  This team is in as comfortable of a position as any team heading into the draft.  This is why they must consider adding Boldin to the team.  He may very well be the one missing piece. 

While the Ravens do not typically like to trade their top pick or a bulk of their picks in a draft, this year might be the year to do so.  I know the Ravens have only six picks this year but if you give up your first and your third round picks you will be gaining more value in Boldin than you would be giving away with what could come in with those two picks.  Wide receiver is the hardest position to fill in the draft and more times then not the pick results in a bust.  The game is so much more physical at the NFL level it is just impossible to project how well receivers will do and which ones will be a bust.  Boldin is a perfect example.  He was a second round draft pick because teams could not project how well he would do.  This year looks to be a crap shoot again as teams try to guess which wide-out is worth taking.  The Ravens are one of those teams and by trading for Boldin it would eliminate all of the guesswork. 

Look at this way:  Who might the Ravens draft with the 26th overall pick?  Most projections I have seen have the Ravens looking at a corner or, you guessed it, a wide receiver.  Thanks to Ozzie’s great offseason the Ravens have added depth and talent to their secondary.  A corner pick here is no longer a must but rather more like a luxury.  A wide receiver for this team makes the most sense, so why not get the best? This years best available is not Percy Harvin, Hakeem Nicks(I think is the best in the draft), Kenny Britt, or even Darrius Heyward-Bey.  That is right, the best wide-out available this year is Boldin.  The Ravens fans want him.  The Ravens need him.

Boldin is young, only 28, and can help this team for another 5 years.  He will come in and have an immediate impact on this offense, especially on Joe Flacco.  The other benefit of getting Boldin is that you would not have to wait for him to develop.  He is ready to go on day one.  Let’s face it the Ravens are not getting any younger on defense and guys like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed do not have the years left to wait for a rookie to develop.  Flacco is also emerging into a star and we do not need to hold him back while waiting for the rookie WR to develop.

Traditionally the Ravens have not been afraid to pull the trigger to trade up in the draft to get guys they felt were important to this team and may not be available when it is their turn to draft, ala Joe Flacco.  So why not pull the trigger this year.  Just because Boldin is not in the draft does not mean we should write off the idea of dealing our picks.   

Give up the picks and bring Baltimore a star thus narrowing the gap between the Super Bowl champions and the Baltimore Ravens!!! 

 

Comments Off

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens and their “Cap” might not fit Ray’s head now

Posted on 04 March 2009 by Drew Forrester

As Silent-Ray (Day 6) rolls on, the Ravens are moving about the business of trying to find players, draft players and prepare for the 2009 team.  That would be with — or without — Ray Lewis.

The Ravens are still banking on the fact that no one else in the league wants Ray Lewis at the rate they’re willing to pay him in Baltimore.  They might be right.  They probably ARE right, in fact.

Remember, though, as I’ve said all along during this process, it only takes one team to screw it up for the Ravens.  It could be ANY team in the league throwing Ray a cash-bone.  That wouldn’t mean Ray would go play in Detroit, for example, but any offer that rivals or trumps the one in Baltimore would be a problem for the Ravens when you look at their cap situation, which I’ve chronicled below.

And if you’re sitting there right now saying, “no team in the league is going to pay for a 34-year old linebacker in the late November of his career,” might I remind you – gently – that the Minnesota Vikings could have been thinking that on Tuesday about their free-agent, soon-to-be-33-year old center, Matt Birk.  The only problem with that thought?  Birk’s in Baltimore and the Ravens might be the “one team” willing to pay him as much or more than the Vikings.

I can hear them now in Minnesota:  ”It only takes one team.”  Followed by: “Yeah, but no one in the league wants an 11-year veteran center who still thinks he’s worth a lot of money.”

Tell that to Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta.

Ray’s still holding out hope he can find that “one team” to upset the apple cart.  I’m fairly certain he’s trying to do that today, in fact, in concert with his agent, David Dunn.

Now, on to the other major issue facing the Ravens:  The salary cap.

As I wrote last week – and fielded a bunch of “expert” criticism from folks who thought my numbers were wrong (they weren’t) – the Ravens are running short on salary cap dough.

After last week’s signing of Domonique Foxworth, and the restricted free agent tenders to Landry, Koch and Williams, Baltimore’s available cap space is now a hair over $10 million for the 2009 season.  And, yes, before you ask — that INCLUDES the additional $4 million given to all the teams last week.

With roughly $10.1 million remaining to be spent, what do the Ravens do?

They can still part company with Samari Rolle and save themselves about $2 million in ’09.  They wouldn’t have to pay him the $4.1 million they owe him but there’d be a couple million in “dead money” to deal with on the ’09 cap.

Rolle spoke out last weekend about “wanting his release” from the club.  Based on every nickel counting at this point – cap wise – that might not be a bad thing.  No one else on the club is really expendable, cap-wise, without major dead-money weight to deal with in ’09 and ’10.  Willie Anderson would save them about $3 million and some change if they axe him, but the Ravens were extremely pleased with him last season and probably aren’t interested in moving him on at this point.

If you don’t think future “dead money” is something to concern yourself with, remember that this year’s cap – 2009 – features nearly $12 million in dead-money, courtesy of bonus monies paid out to Ogden, McNair and McAlister in previous years.

Back to the original question:  What are the Ravens going to do with this $10 million they have left to spend?

It appears as if the Ravens will need about $3.5 million to spend on their ’09 college draft picks.

That leaves roughly $6.5 million to spend on “players”, aka free-agents.

News item:  I’m not sure who in Baltimore first floated this mysterious $17 million guarantee/$24 million offer for Ray Lewis, but I don’t think it’s accurate.  It can’t be.  Unless the Ravens are just going to give Ray the remaining $6.5 million for 2009, somehow.  I haven’t had this confirmed by anyone in Owings Mills yet, but I’m willing to bet the Ravens’ original offer of $12mm up front and $18 million total is still their working number.  I’ll report back if I have that confirmed…or, if I’m wrong, even.

$6.5 million left to spend, give or take a hundred grand or two.  Matt Birk might eat up 75% of that today.

Where, then, would that leave Ray?  Is that original Ravens’ offer still on the table?  The Ravens are telling me “yes, absolutely.”  In fact, if history serves me correctly, I think the only offer the Ravens ever removed from the table was when Gary Baxter jerked them around four years ago and they just said, “Enough is enough…we’re haggling with a dude who is basically an average player at best.”  And, of course, off Baxter went to Cleveland for big money…but he never even approached “average” in a Browns uniform.  He was terrible there and the Ravens, it turned out, were right on that one.

Ray Lewis wants his money.  The Ravens are running out of it.

$6.5 million to spend.

It’s not a lot of cash.

Not in the NFL, at least.

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , ,

Oh, the weather outside is frightful…

Posted on 02 March 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Just five weeks from today, the Yankees fans will descend on downtown and the bunting will be out and the Orioles will celebrate Opening Day. Today, however, I’m sitting here having my first cup of coffee of the week, watching an absolutely stunning beautiful snow event, listening to Drew and Glenn talk about the Terps and Ray Lewis and watching all of the local TV talking heads continue a sick, little Baltimore tradition: “It’s snowing! STOP EVERYTHING!” And if Don and Marty are going to freak out over schools being closed and no one is going to work, then the least I can do is blog and tell you that I’M GOING TO WORK! And I hope you tune me in at 2 p.m.!

And today is the first snowstorm day when our website is a destination or a way to reach the radio at home because I have a feeling rush hour traffic will be limited. Especially when for 40 years every time it’s ever snowed in Baltimore, all of the TV stations freeze and they tell everyone to basically “take the day off.” I don’t know how it works in your office, but most people are happy to oblige when a  “freebie” is offered, even in this lousy, horrific economy. So, at least you’re reading our website and know we’re full service today.

I’m watching WJZ now: “When winter weather bears down on Maryland, we’re there with you. When the economy sucks, we’re there for you. When it’s time to take money from Peter Angelos and lie to you about the Orioles, we’re there for you…”

Honestly, I’m looking forward to driving into the office today and doing the show at 2 p.m. It’s been a very interesting weekend on and off the fields and courts in local sports.

On the fields…

Maryland is back somewhere on the right side of the bubble in the hunt to be in the March Madness with a relatively strong win in Raleigh. I think Greivis is still shooting ball!

I went to RAC Arena yesterday to take in the Retrievers’ big win over Albany. It’s always fun to see the band, the girls, the kids and Randy Monroe’s tantrums at UMBC. Our own Drew Forrester was feted by the local frat boys as he handed out a school spirit trophy with beads at halftime. Jay Greene’s family gave me a T-shirt with his name on it. There were tears, cheers, the works for “Senior Day” as Greene and Darryl Proctor were honored. I shot some WNSTV. I’ll try to get it up.

Lacrosse fans descended upon downtown on Saturday on a chilly day to support their sport and Johns Hopkins is wobbling.

The Orioles are doing something. I’m just not sure whether anyone is paying attention. This was the week we were going to do live from down in Fort Lauderdale. But in five weeks we’ll be playing baseball.

Off the field, it’s been a mess.

Let’s start with The Washington Post’s bombshell hurled at Gary Williams, Kevin Plank, Under Armour and the University of Maryland yesterday regarding the recruitment of Lance Stephenson. It’s been the major topic on Drew’s show this morning. I have no idea who in College Park peed in The Post’s Wheaties, but there’s clearly a witch hunt going on there for Garyland.

And if you’re on our WNST Text Service, you know that Samari Rolle told The Baltimore Sun and the Ravens (and the world) last night that he wants to be released, which caps a weekend of major activity in Owings Mills even without a word or a whisper from No. 52.
There’s plenty to rap about on a day when the weather outside is frightful. The TV stations are frightening everyone else. But I’m going to work. As my Pop would say en route to Bethlehem Steel on a day like today, “I’m not gonna scratch.”

BTW: Shameless plug here…

This Thursday would be my Pop’s 90th birthday. We will have an on air party from 2 to 6 for my dad and all dads and continue our annual tradition of honoring Pops everywhere!

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ray-Week, Day 3 – “Money too tight to mention?”

Posted on 25 February 2009 by Drew Forrester

Hang in there gang, we’re almost to Friday.

That’s when the fireworks REALLY begin.

Beginning this Friday, if Ray Lewis really does reach 12:01am without a signed contract in Baltimore, he’ll hit free agency for the first time in his career.

I assume, by the time I make it to the air at 6:07 for a Friday morning edition of the wildly popular “Comcast Morning Show”, Ray will already be in the news somehow, someway.  Even if no team makes him a bonafide offer in the wee hours of the morning, I’m quite certain someone from his camp will float one out there.

Yesterday, reports circulated that Ray was offered a significant amount of money from the Ravens on Tuesday.  

The only issue with that?  The Ravens might not have “significant money” available to them at this point. 

Why let that important fact get in the way, though, right?

Last August when the Ravens rebuffed Ray’s counter-offer of $20 million, they might have known then that they’d be tight-against-the-cap in February/March of 2009.  

They’re not able to be free spenders this off-season.  They’ve already shelled out $10,170,000 to Terrell Suggs.  They’ve handed over a little more than $1.5 million to defensive lineman Brandon McKinney and a million bucks to Dwan Edwards for 2009.

The Ravens have roughly $123 million to play with (cap-wise) in 2009.  Right now, they’re closing in on $113 million, by my estimation, give a million or so either way.  

If, in fact, they’re $10 million to the good under the cap, what do they do with it?

I know what they CAN’T do with $10 million.  Sign Ray, Bart, Jason and Jim.  In fact, with $10 million, it’s likely they can’t even sign TWO of those guys, unless it’s Leonhard and Brown, the most likely combination that could be pulled for $10 million in cap expense for 2009.

OK, then, who goes in order to make more room under the cap, if that’s even necessary?

And, remember, you can’t be over the salary cap after this Friday at 12:00 am.  In other words, by Thursday at 11:59pm, you need to be under the cap and STAY under the cap throughout 2009.  

So, between now and Friday, the Ravens would have to part company with some significant players – and salaries – in order to fit a few of the “most-wanted” into the 2009 scheme.

Who goes, then?

Trevor Pryce ($1.75 million saved if released before 6/1)?  Samari Rolle ($4.1 million)?  Is it right to release Kelly Gregg after he spent ’08 on the injured list ($1.1 million)?  Frank Walker ($1.6 million) could be expendable but with CMac’s departure, every veteran defensive back could be valuable in ’09.

That eight million sure would help.

Where’s the defensive end pass rush going to come from in ’09?  There’s no Trevor Pryce waiting in the wings, with all due respect to Marques Douglas.

And, with the departure of Chris McAlister, the Ravens are already somewhat hamstrung experience-wise in the defensive backfield.  Losing Rolle wouldn’t HELP the situation back there, that’s for sure.

But, that $8 million would sure help.  

Or, do the Ravens just go ahead and sign Jason Brown, and Jim Leonhard and squeeze the two signings into the roughly-$10 million they have to left to play with?  They could probably get Brown for a $7 million signing bonus over four years and another $2.5 million per-year…and Leonhard would cost them roughly $1.5 million a year for three years.  In other words, they could sneak those two in for ’09 and fit them under the $10 million they have left.  Keep in mind, too, my numbers are more rounded off than they probably should be…the Ravens might be working with $8,882,019 dollars for all I know. In other words, every dollar counts.  

By the way, the Ravens need $5 million or so to sign their draft picks.  Anyone know how they’re going to do that?  Yeah, me neither.

Keep in mind, the Ravens haven’t even perused the free agent list yet to see who might be available on Friday morning.  And they have their own contributors hanging out there as well:  Matt Stover is wondering if he’s coming back – and getting paid.  Same for Dan Wilcox.  And Kyle Boller.  Let’s take a truth-pill here.  As hard as it is to swallow, if there’s no money for Jason Brown and Bart Scott (not to mention Ray Lewis), there’s certainly no money for Stover, Wilcox and Boller.    

It’s all coming clear now:  Unless Ozzie and DeCosta make some dramatic moves over the next 72 hours, they aren’t going to have enough money for their own players, let alone guys parading around the league for a new deal.  

I’m glad I’m not making the decision(s).

And, it’s not Fantasy Football either.

Most fans just say, “Give Ray and Bart the money and get it over with already, would ya?”

It’s just not that easy.

Sports is weird.  

The Orioles have gobs of money to spend and don’t want to spend it.

The Ravens would love to have an unlimited amount to spend, but they can’t.

It sure is fun to talk about, though.

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Getting a grip on the Festivus activities

Posted on 23 December 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

So, it looks like we’re getting into the playoffs. Well at least we can talk that way for a few more days and as a 10-point favorite against Jacksonville this weekend (and please note the gametime change to 4:15 p.m., which means the coldest possibilities for us) the Ravens should win. Heck, if they don’t win they don’t deserve to be in the playoffs, really.

So, assuming that the Ravens are going to win this week and advance to the playoffs I started putting together playoff possibilities onto a cocktail napkin on Sunday and this is what I came up with…and I can’t imagine the NFL scheduling gods could have cooked this weekend up with a whole lot more drama than what they have – several cool matchups and playoff spots on the line in both conferences.

Indianapolis can now pack their bags for Denver or San Diego. But that Sunday night game is gonna be a good one. You gotta think that the Chargers have all of the momentum and the home field. What a story that would be, digging out from 4-8 to make the playoffs. Kinda unheard of…

Clearly, Nasvhille and Pittsburgh are just sitting tight, taking a “bye” week before their official byes. And as we saw two years ago, that extra slacker time isn’t always the best route. Two of the last three Super Bowl champs (Pittsburgh 2005 and N.Y. Giants 2007) have come from the No. 6 hole and not only won three in a row on the road but also overcame the extra game and the lack of a bye. You’d figure that being a higher seed would be a good thing but the recent history doesn’t support it.

And the Ravens (or the eventual No. 6 seed) will be headed to the AFC East winner. If Miami beats the Jets, we’re headed to South Florida. If the Jets beat the Dolphins, we go to New England provided they win in  Buffalo (hardly a given).

And such begins any legitimate Ravens fan’s aspirations of catching fire and making January 2009 one helluva memorable month. Here are my thoughts:

1.    Miami is the Ravens’ best first-round path. While the flights are jam-packed (good luck trying to get to South Florida next weekend if the Ravens make it there!), the weather and a matchup where the homefield won’t be so unkind is favorable for the Ravens. It certainly beats going to frosty New England, which is the worst scenario for the Ravens. If the Jets win and the Patriots flop this weekend and we wind up at the Meadowlands against Brett Favre, I still like our chances. Just FYI: if the Ravens go to New England or New York, we’ve already got “Miller Lite Roadtrips” ready to go! If the Ravens play in Miami, we will not be offering a trip.
2.    A Ravens win at the AFC East champion would take them to a path that’s well-traveled and familiar to Ray Lewis, Matt Stover and any real Ravens fan: Nashville. Clearly, the Titans would rather not see No. 52 coming back into the former Adelphia Coliseum in January. And assuming another Tennessee road miracle win…
3.    The AFC Championship Game could be in Pittsburgh (assuming they don’t choke the weekend of Jan. 10-11) or San Diego, Denver or even Indianapolis, if they could win two in a row on the road and take down the Steelers at Heinz Field.

Of course every fan of every team is plotting their own pathway through their respective conference playoff possibilities. This is the joy of having a Festivus celebration – the possibilities and hope that even being a “potential” No. 6 seed affords. And, we still have to win a game at home this weekend against a feisty Jacksonville team to do that.

As we’ve seen over and over again in the NFL: NO ONE LAYS DOWN late in the season. Well, no one but the Arizona Cardinals, any way…

The lowly Seahawks, Redskins and the Bills all pulled off upsets over playoff-inspired favorites last Sunday. The Jaguars played the Colts extremely tough last Thursday night and they’ll have two extra days of rest before coming here this Sunday. Maurice Jones Drew got dinged up very late in the game against Indy, so it’ll be interesting to see how effective he’ll be this week but he’s an explosive threat, like a human pinball or a poor man’s Barry Sanders. He’ll present speed issues for the Ravens defense in the middle of the field.

There’s no “counting chickens” as a Ravens fan. This Jaguars game is hardly a walkover in my mind. But a win this week opens all sorts of doors of possibilities for 2009 and dreams of an improbably Super Bowl run with a rookie coach, a rookie quarterback and a veteran Hall of Famer inspiring the troops in the September of his career.

The storylines for the Ravens are obvious:

Ray Lewis in a walk year trying to win another Super Bowl…

Trevor Pryce going for No. 3…

Derrick Mason and Samari Rolle, who both came up one-yard short almost a decade ago, getting another chance…

A first chance for Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Todd Heap and other Pro Bowlers to win a championship…

Will it start in Miami?

Or New England?

Or a trip to the Meadowlands for Favre and the Jets?

Can the Ravens avoid an upset at the hands of the Jaguars – who were truly Kyptonite to this franchise in the early years when they won the first eight matchups of the rivalry – to earn the No. 6 seed. For better or worse, the playoffs come to Baltimore at 4:15 this Sunday in what amounts to a “play in” game for the franchise and the city.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, indeed…

Happy Festivus to all…

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2008 Ravens tribute: “Harmony Reigns”

Posted on 23 December 2008 by Drew Forrester

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This team stayed positive all season long.

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

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

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

The team has won.

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

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

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

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

It’s been their ’08 success formula.

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

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

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

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 04 November 2008 by Glenn Clark

Like Drew said; this was tougher to do because there were 12 worthy candidates. But here’s my Tuesday Top 7…..7-Ray Lewis

He’s on the list because of “The Speech”. He had a solid game, but apparently the rallying cry was legit.

6-Haloti Ngata

You’re just not getting anywhere near him. Forget it. He might well be the best interior lineman in the NFL.

5-Mark Clayton

If the Ravens can go downfield to Mark Clayton, this is an entirely different offense. But asking him to climb the ladder in double coverage is NOT a good idea.

4-Terrell Suggs

This team is better when the defense scores. Terrell Suggs has done that twice in the last 3 weeks.

3-Joe Flacco

If he plays like he did in the 2nd half the rest of the season; he will beat out Matt Ryan for Rookie of the Year honors.

2-Ray Rice

Totally dynamic back. Just needs to make sure he holds on to the football.

1-Derrick Mason

The true “savior” of this offense. The catch on 3rd and 16 was unbelievably big; and he just keeps giving Joe Flacco a sure target. Braylon Edwards might be more explosive; but Braylon Edwards dropped the most important ball thrown to him all day. Derrick Mason didn’t.

Let’s see what everyone else has to say……

Best of Monday’s WNST Blogs:

Drew Forrester

thinks Rice top Raven Sunday

Drew Forrester still ‘puzzled’ by Ravens

Nestor Aparicio struggled to root for Skins

Casey Willett says practices will be less physical this week to make up for loss of bye

RAVENS:The Official Site’s Mike Duffy

 

says Harbaugh ‘not worried’ about losing this week’s scheduled bye

The Official Site’s Scott Garceau says 3rd & 16 conversion will be ‘defining moment’ of season

The Official Site says McGahee ‘will be ready’ vs. Texans

Texans Official Site’s Brooke Bentley says Rosenfels to start for injured Schaub

Texans Official Site says Kubiak ‘not sure’ if RB Green will be available vs. Ravens

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Ravens have decision to make at RB

The Sun’s Ken Murray says losing bye helped Harbaugh decide to give Ravens day off yesterday

The Sun’s Mike Preston says coaching staff getting ‘everything’ possible from Ravens

The Sun’s Mike Preston says Ravens can stick with both RB’s

The Sun’s Mike Preston says Flacco’s improvement not just about statistics

The Examiner’s Ron Snyder says Harbaugh just thinking about Texans

The Examiner’s Ron Snyder says McAlister out, Rolle should play Sunday

The Examiner’s Jay Trucker thinks 52 should do morning show

The Examiner’s Steve DeClue says Flacco ‘real deal’

Aaron Wilson says Rice has ‘expanded himself’ in Ravens’ offense

Aaron Wilson says Harbaugh not taking much from good record early on

The AP says Harbaugh not thinking playoffs…….or not admitting it anyway

Houston Chronicle’s John McClain says Ravens game will be 2nd start of season for Rosenfels

ESPN.com’s James Walker thinks Ravens will go with ‘hot hand’ Rice

SI.com’s Ross Tucker says Rice one of many rookie backs with big days Sunday

Sporting News’ Mike Florio says Rice has ‘arrived’

CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco gives Ravens ‘A’ for win over Browns

Yahoo! Sports’ Michael Silver has Ravens 19th in power rankings

TERRAPINS FOOTBALL:The Official Site

 

says Terps to face Heels at 3:30

Virginia Tech Official Site offers complete Hokies-Terps release (pdf)

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Terps haven’t always known which QB would play

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Carolina game will be on ABC locally; ESPN nationally

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Ralph credits O-Line for running improvement

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says despite what Ralph says, Terps do care about rankings

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Ralph ‘loyal’ to fault

The Sun’s Matt Bracken says Stinebaugh highlights weekend action for Maryland commits

The Diamondback’s Eric Detweiler says Egekeze has background at Augusta National

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says coaching staff will try to keep Terps ‘focused’ for night game Saturday

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Ralph ‘hopeful’ Moten can play Thursday

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says some fans frustrated Terps haven’t competed for national championship

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Terps wax political

Washington Post’s Matthew Rennie says Hokies concerned about QB depth Thursday

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Beamer not saying much about QB’s

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Terps making first 3:30 ABC appearance since last year’s Clemson loss

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Hokies’ beat writer Slater thinks running attack would be hurt if Taylor can’t play

Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Darryl Slater says Hokies 33-5 at home since 2003

Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Darryl Slater says Times’ Stevens thinks Terps will play ‘decent’ in Blacksburg

ESPN.com has Terps 24th in power rankings

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says Virginia Tech QB’s remain ‘questionable’

TERRAPINS BASKETBALL:The Official Site

 

says Gary ‘very happy’ to have Kim ready to playThe Sun’s Don Markus

says Kim now eligible

The Examiner’s Dylan Waugh says Kim will create matchup problems

The Diamondback’s Mark Selig says Gary thinks Kim one of ‘best shooters’ on team

Washington Post says online courses were problem for Kim

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says third time charm for Kim

Terrapin Times’ Keith Cavanaugh offers breaking Jin Soo Kim news (must subscribe)Terrapin Times’ Dan Painter

says Terps looking at sophomore prospect Gibbs (must subscribe)NAVY FOOTBALL:

The Official Site

previews Navy-Notre Dame

The Official Site offers complete Navy-Notre Dame release (pdf)Annapolis Capital’s Bill Wagner

says Niumatalolo successfully replacing Johnson

TOWSON FOOTBALL:The Official Site

 

previews Towson-Delaware

MORGAN FOOTBALL:The Examiner’s Dave Carey

 

says Bears aware they have chance to accomplish something they never have

SALISBURY FOOTBALL:The Official Site

 

says Gulls drop to 17th in poll

UMBC BASKETBALL:The Official Site

 

says new mascot named “Gritty”HOPKINS LACROSSE:

The Official Site

says Jays will play 8 Tournament teams this season

Inside Lacrosse’s Jon Brand says Rabil wins Laxie for Player of the Year

The Examiner’s Sean Welsh says Jays open season vs. Siena

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Jays playing all ACC teams except Duke

ORIOLES:The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin

 

says Birds WILL pursue Teixeira

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Birds outright Castillo to Norfolk

The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says Wieters cooling off, Reimold heating up in Arizona

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says ‘little indication’ Angelos would give Teixeira $20 million per year

BLAST:The Official Site

 

says Massachusetts replaces Orlando in new league

BOXING:ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael

 

says Rahman will face W. Klitschko

FightNews.com says Rahman replaces Povetkin in fight

The AP says Rahman-Klitschko fight will be for IBF title

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL:Ravens Official Site

 

says Queen Anne’s County’s Graef Coach of the Week

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS:-When the Eagles visit Baltimore November 23; don’t forget to shout “Joe” instead of “O” during the national anthem.

-Kudos to everyone who sent us Flacco-isms this morning. Congratulations to Mark from Parkville for his choice “When Joe Flacco met Joe Greene; Joe Flacco threw Joe Greene HIS jersey.” Funny stuff.

-Jin Soo Kim might be a decent basketball player; but if he’s 6’8” and can’t play inside I am concerned as to how he will help this particular team.

-One of two things will happen in December when Hasim Rahman faces Wladimir Klitschko. Either Rock will stun the world; or he won’t fight in the spotlight ever again. I hope.

Talk to you tomorrow.

-G

 

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The afterglow of Cleveland

Posted on 03 November 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

Talk about snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

With just over a quarter remaining in yesterday’s key divisional AFC North matchup, the Ravens were 14 points down on the road, the Browns fans were coming to life with a chorus of “Hang on Sloopy” (don’t ask…just watch the video!) and the vultures were circling our black birds at Cleveland Stadium.

Some of the Cleveland “faithful” had already begun to pile out onto the street to watch Bruce Springsteen perform before the Barack Obama rally, which was literally adjacent to the stadium (think as close as Oriole Park is to M&T Bank Stadium).

The Browns had our rookie quarterback on the run. Our beaten defense had been pushed around for 30 minutes – or as Terrell Suggs said: “We were getting our asses handed to us.” And staring at a two-touchdown deficit on the road in a hostile environment, it didn’t feel as though a comeback was in the offering.

Todd Heap hadn’t caught a pass. Willis McGahee was on the pine. The backend of the secondary, while not looking like Ike Booth and Donny Brady circa 1996 was still not Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle in their prime for sure.

But, as we learned in the locker room after the game, it was about that time that Ray Lewis came to the forefront on the sidelines and talked about playing a full 60 minutes of football. He talked about believing and not quitting. All of the stuff many may view as “rhetoric” when it doesn’t work was viewed as gospel once the Ravens came storming back to score 24 unanswered points during the final 16 minutes of the game.

And, lo and behold, the Ravens created their first miracle of the John Harbaugh administration and gave us our best memory of Cleveland yet, a stunning 37-27 victory on The Lake. (Well, it’s at least the the best memory in Cleveland since the Roberto Alomar homer back in 1996.)

While the real world is in a seemingly constant state of financial crisis and life isn’t a whole lot of fun for most of us from the gas pump to the checkbook, it’s stupid stuff like sports that can create a little bit of fun and a diversion from daily life. At least here in Baltimore with the fantasyland that sports provides us, it’s turning into a very good year for our football team, which makes for nice Monday mornings.

Hell, it makes for great WEEKS in my world, where everywhere I go and everything I do leads me into a conversation about football and the Ravens.

So, on a personal note, there’s nothing more gratifying than when the Ravens win.

It helps WNST morale. It helps the morale of the community. And it makes food taste a little better and the beer is, to quote Chuck Thompson, a little colder.

The Ravens are 5-3, headed off to play Houston in six days and apparently will draw the Sage Rosenfels quarterback card instead of Matt Schaub, who left the Texans’ game early yesterday.

Ray Lewis is playing like a man possessed, showing himself to be the veteran leader in his “walk” year that we’ve been wanting to see as fans.

It’s officially time to start talking about “Festivus.”

(Does John Harbaugh even know about this sacred football holiday?)

And then there are the three “rookies” who stepped to the podium after yesterday’s gritty, improbable win.

Ray Rice had as big of a day on the road when it mattered against a division rival as you can imagine a rookie having. (Although he’ll be hearing about getting knocked out of bounds short of the end zone a few times this week from teammates.)

Joe Flacco was almost flawless in his effort yesterday and continues to show poise, confidence and ability that are beyond his years.

And rookie coach John Harbaugh is starting to show results in the only place it really matters: the team is 5-3 and could be in first place by the end of the night.

Only time will tell if yesterday’s offense-defense bonding on the Lake will take root and this will be a playoff team (or maybe even a true contender for a Super Bowl title in this oddest of seasons).

The conversations here and around town will talk about the obvious problems: the lack of a bye week, the powerful NFC North teams looming during the holidays and tough games and the secondary will probably be a question mark until proven otherwise. There will be plenty of time to debate all of this, week to week, as the team continues to mature.

But yesterday was one for the books — a classic, an unexpected gem to begin the Festivus season. Not even being stuck in the Cleveland airport for three extra hours last night could wipe the smile off of my face.

As I walked to the subway after hearing about 25 minutes of Springsteen (as many of you know, one of my favorites), we strolled to Tower City Mall as Bruce broke out an acoustic version of “The Rising” and dedicated it to Barack Obama, who was about to take the stage.

Bruce could have just as easily sent that one out to the purple birds, who were trying to navigate the insane scene of 100,000 people on the square downtown en route to the airport for a “rising” of their own.

The rising to the top of the AFC North, creating even more separation from the whole state of Ohio.

The rain began to fall on the Cleveland night as the sun set before 5 p.m. for the beginning of a long, cold winter on Lake Erie.

The Ravens are 5-3. The Browns are 3-5.

Going in opposite directions once again.

The bad news?

We’re all stuck rooting for the Redskins tonight.

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , ,

Ravens @ Browns – Your Predictions

Posted on 30 October 2008 by Alex Thomas

The week 9 schedule sends the Ravens to the Dogpound for what could be a pivotal game in the AFC North:

-if the Ravens win, they keep the #6 seed in the AFC playoff standings
-if the Ravens win and the Steelers lose to the Redskins, the Ravens move into a tie for first in the AFC North (although the Steelers own the tie-breaker).
-if the Browns win, they move into a tie with the Ravens.

The Ravens will likely be without Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle, and Dawan Landry is already listed as out for the game. The Browns passing attack has shown sparks at times and has looked much better since the Ravens pummeled the Browns back in week 3. And I’m not sold on Frank Walker being able to cover Braylon Edwards.

Unless the Ravens can pressure Derek Anderson all day long, it could be a long day for the secondary. If the Browns are smart, they’ll give up on the run and attack the weaker areas of the Ravens defense through the air. If the Browns can negate the Ravens pass rush with some 3 and 5 step drops, it will leave Walker and Fabian Washington on islands with Edwards and Donte Stallworth. Look for the Browns to substitute the short passing game for a steady dose of Jamal Lewis.

My prediction: I smell a trap game. With the Browns at home and considering they’ve already seen the Ravens before, I’m going to take the upset this week. It’s so hard to beat a team twice, especially if you’ve already beaten them in your house and you’re going to theirs for the rematch (which is why I think the Ravens will beat the Steelers).

This offense is progressing, but despite the brand new look and tempo, Oakland botched a lot of coverages last week. If the Ravens want to win this game they have to get up early and make Derek Anderson want to quit. I’ll take the Browns at home this week coming off of a big win.

Ravens – 17

Browns – 23

Pivotal Match-Up: Ravens offensive line vs. Browns pass rush. If Shaun Rogers and company let Joe Flacco have time to sit back and make throws, the Ravens will win this game as long as he doesn’t turn the ball over.

Where it could all go wrong: Pretty simple scenario this week – Browns try to run the ball; Ravens hold on to the football; Ravens secondary steps up.

Surprising statistic: The Browns have beat Baltimore in Cleveland 3 of the last 4 years,

Last Week’s 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?

Comments (0)