Does it get any better than this Sunday afternoon at 1? The Baltimore Ravens get to line up and play the Pittsburgh Steelers in a real game on a sunny fall day. The real question is this: are the Ravens better now than they were when they lost in the divisional round?
Many of you will say no. I would say it’s an easy answer for me: yes!
This Ravens team is much more equipped to play against the Steelers in many ways. First of all, they have added receivers who can stretch the field and run more than a 10-yard comeback route. Last year’s receivers were easier to cover because you knew they wouldn’t go down field. What did opposing defenses do to stop them? They just bracketed them from 15-yards and in. No longer will they be able to do this. In the game against the Steelers last December the Ravens hit several long passes on the Steeler defense, then, for some reason didn’t even try to do this in the AFC Divisonal round.
Continue reading for the rest of the Ravens’ improvements…
Second, the defense is a lot better. They have significantly upgraded at corner with Jimmy Smith and safety with Bernard Pollard. Pollard is a thumper who can stuff the run and play pass coverage adequately. The other safeties are smaller and are more equipped to play the free safety position. However, this team already has a free safety. You probably know his name.
Third, the quarterback will be a lot better. Joe Flacco has been held back in his last three years. This is not to say he hasn’t been very good because that’s not the case at all. In fact, I’d argue that people who say Flacco has been carried by a good defense probably don’t watch many Ravens games or have no clue what they’re talking about as it pertains to football. I didn’t know that a QB could throw 25 touchdowns with 10 interceptions (four in one game) and be called a “game manager.” Utterly ridiculous. Now, the guy finally has receivers who can get separation and get down the field. Flacco will take a huge step this year and it will be on him to take the team to the next level. I think he will.
Lastly, this Ravens team on Sunday won’t be the same team we see in December. This is the kind of team that will take time to gel with all of its moving parts. However, once they hit the ground running they will be tough to stop. Their last eight games of the season are pretty easy on paper save the Chargers on the road. This is easily a team that can win 10 or 11 games.
Let’s agree on this: It’s exciting to have the season back.