Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Obstacles suggest Ravens' season to end on Sunday

You could make the argument that the Ravens could have won either of the two games during the ’08 regular season against the Steelers and that could tip the scale and influence the law of averages more so than “the third time’s a charm” argument.

"It's going to be a battle to play a team three times in one year, especially the rivalry that we have," Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "I think it's going to be one for the ages."

Unfortunately, the Ravens have three big things going against them this Sunday…

First, they aren’t healthy. Not that they have been described as healthy at any point during the season but now the Ravens are forced to deal with injuries to Terrell Suggs, Samari Rolle, Le’Ron McClain and Willie Anderson. The Ravens have played with a tremendous amount of heart in ’08 and these players are certainly among those who have gutted it out. All say they will play on Sunday but for how long? It’s an issue and it is something that the much healthier Steelers will put to task.

Secondly, the Ravens looked tired against the Titans. The optimist will hope that the weariness was the result of a short week and with the extra day of rest the team will have an extra bounce or two in their collective step. The pessimist might conclude that the Ravens are just flat worn out by a season that really afforded them no true bye week.

And finally, it’s almost naïve to think that the Ravens can suddenly turn on the offensive afterburners and attack the league’s No. 1 defense after they appeared very sluggish, arguably sheepish and unimaginative against the Dolphins (mostly in the second half) and the Titans.

It’s not impossible that the 6 point underdogs could shock the nation and head to Super Bowl 43. But there just seems to be too many obstacles standing in the way of a Ravens victory. It will take a great game from Joe Flacco and an A game plan from Cam Cameron to get it done on Sunday. That’s a lot to ask of a team that has been pretty poor in the red zone while taking on the best defense in the land. There’s a better chance that the vanilla offense will place Flacco in too many third and long situations and if that happens, it isn’t hard to envision turnovers costing the Ravens dearly.

I hope I’m as wrong about this game as I was about my suggestion to bench Ed Reed during Week 5 of the regular season: Steelers 20, Ravens 6.


Anonymous said...

When the Ravens were only able to put 9 points up against the Steelers at M&T was it naive to think that they would put up 33 in Dallas in the last game at Texas Stadium the following week?

The Ravens didn't look too tired to me. They played against a well rested team with strong lines on both sides of the ball. They were still able to cause turnovers with their pressure on defense and the O-line kept Flacco clean, no sacks, no INT.

Do you actually think that the Steelers O-Line is better than the Titans? We'll bring the heat and pound Roethlisberger and as long as our O-Line protects Flacco, we'll make enough plays to win the game.

It's sad to see you give up so soon! Do yourself a favor and watch "24" on Fox instead of the AFC Championship. Your season's already over, so don't try to jump back on the bandwagon!

Tony Lombardi said...

For me the bandwagon doesn't exist...the Ravens are a way of life and I've chosen to be forever on board.

This is just my objective opinion which I have a right to express just as much as you Mr. Anonymous. I appreciate your position and hope that yours is more accurate and come Monday morning I hope there are hundreds piling on me saying, "I told you so."

Right now, I just don't think so but I'll be rooting just as passionately as anyone out there.

Jerry B said...

Hard to argue with logic, TL, expect that this season has been anything but logical.

Expectations were low going into the season and all this team did was provide us with many pleasant surprises along the way. Frankly, expectations continue low going into Pittsburgh for all the reasons you cite. But, this team has fought through adversity all year, so let's hope they've got at least two more surprises in store for us.

While another loss to Pittsburgh, particularly with so much hanging in the balance, would be very disappointing, in no way would it diminish what this team has accomplished this year!

Just one fan's opinion........


Jerry B

Mark C, York PA said...

Wow, that was sure a pessimistic prediction, 20-6 Steelers winning? I find that hard to believe. I was in Nashville this past weekend with a casual Raven fan that could do nothing much other than criticize me for even considering the Steelers might win this weekend (granted she is no genius at footballs and doesnt understand the game in detail).

That being said, your points of argument are valid. Yet, what if Ray Rice suddenly heals or Willis McGahee finds some running room for us? What if Rex Ryan can game plan some different blitz's and Bart Scott or Jarrett Johnson pull a sack or two out and put some pressure on Roethlisberger? What if Rex finds a way to use Ayenbadayjo or J. McClain more and they step up? Willie Anderson seems to have been hurt from day one, that guys just plain tough (He'll play). Samari Rolle has played with some pain throughout, but what if Frank Walker steps up? He has improved greatly over the course of the year.
Its next man up, its every healthy man up on this team and this game.

I'd have never thought the last game in Heinz we would stand a chance yet Joe played an amazing game. He is better, this team is better than that game. Pittsburgh is better too I'll grant that.

I say its the Ravens by 3. 16-13.

Confidence Tony, its another Super Bowl Run for the boys in purple.

You don't know where I could get a recording either on line or store of Loud Proud and Purple do you?

Harryos29 said...

Harry O 29 Jan 13th 2009
...Well Tony, its 40 years and one day since the upset of the century, when our beloved COLTS went down to the JETS.
...My point being, any thing can happen in a big game. I cannot find fault with your logic; no I cannot.
I'm sitting here tonite watching the NFL Channel replay of our latest win over the Titans on Saturday. As I watch the game unfold. .. the thought just pierces my mind.. "NO WAY the RAVENS Can win this game"...Well look what happened? A win!
Deep down inside I know that this is Don Quixote's Impossible dream, but until the FAT LADY Sings on Sunday night, I still have hope.

Anonymous said...

On paper, the #1 D vs the #2 D;
QB with a Super Bowl victory under his belt vs a rookie QB; 2-0 in regular season games; home field advantage -- sure, it all adds up to advantage Pittsburgh. The Ravens are the underdog. Every game has an underdog. But that's what makes sports so interesting; it follows its own unique logic; "On Any Given Sunday", etc.

And while you're certainly entitled to your own opinion, 20-6 sounds more like a meltdown/tantrum prediction to me than a serious assessment of what the final score will be. Most folks expect a tight, hard fought battle, just like the first two matchups. I haven't seen anything that says we're going to get blown out. Willie Parker has never had field days against us. And while our D has shown signs of cracking this year, I think the guys will be rested and well prepared. A lot is going to depend on how well Cameron does, and also how well our special teams prevent long returns on kickoffs and punt returns. It'll also be interesting to see whether the Ravens use Stover or Hauschka on FG's over 40.

Personally, I think the Ravens ought to/need to use Parmele and Wilcox to give some new looks and some fresh bodies to pump up the offense and maybe catch the Steelers off guard. I'd also like to see Rice and/or McGahee lined up in the slot -- how long can we keep going with basically two WRs and expect to win big games against good teams? I don't know -- we'll see how it plays out on Sunday. But I'll be very surprised if the final score is Steelers 20, Ravens 6.

NickSC said...

We've proven that we can play Pittsburgh toughr than just about any other team in the league. WHo is to say we can't make just a few more plays this Sunday and finally take one?

But, I too am very worried about our health. Gotta wonder if there is enough gas left in this tank. I've said it once, but if our offense can set up the run with the PASS and pressure Big Ben I think we have a fantastic shot as long as our defense gets to sit down on long drives. I'm scared of conservative play calling. We weren't supposed to be playing in this game, so where would the pressure be coming from to play it safe all night?