This 2011-2012 season for the Baltimore Ravens has certainly had its up’s and downs. Defeating the Texans, 49ers, and Steelers (twice) certainly constitutes the “up’s” – and serve as the ace up our sleeve for the number one seed in the AFC Playoffs (based on Strength-of-Victory). Yet the let-downs in Tennessee, Jacksonville, and Seattle have left most fans with lingering doubt as to when the next roadblock will present itself?
Like a crossing guard playing Red Light Green Light with a handheld STOP sign, we tread forward carefully hoping not to get caught. Our trepidation not being that the team will lose and have to start from scratch next year, but that we can’t trust our new belief that the Ravens are a dominant force in the NFL.
With bated breathe we watched the Ravens play the Browns expecting a collapse after back-to-back quality wins. The heavens poured and the wind howled in Cleveland as the Ravens handled their business, and we all let out a collective sigh of relief.
Now with another sub-.500 team coming to town this Sunday, Ravens fans again are waiting to exhale — as well they should.
The Ravens have beaten the past two 4-3 defenses they’ve faced. They are a perfect 6-0 at home this year. The opponent’s captain and starting quarterback is out, as well as their starting middle linebacker (Garry Brackett – who is a beast) on defense. Pittsburg already won this week so the Ravens are motivated. And Dan Orlovsky has a chance to become the only quarterback to start for two teams that go 0-16.
And Yet, I feel uneasy about this one. This is a trap game if I ever heard of one. The Ravens haven’t beaten the Colts in a decade. They are a matchup nightmare for us — their team speed makes us look slow and pathetic. And if Dwight Freeney and/or Robert Mathis has himself a day, then the Ravens could be asking themselves for the fourth time this year (and fourth time in as many years) what happened?
A loss to the Colts is not a loss in the playoffs. But to the Raven’s players and coaching staff, they feel they need a home playoff game to get over the hump and reach the Superbowl.
The Ravens have been so close to exploding into the team we all want them to be. But every year they flirt with both grandeur and futility.
This year feels different. With three straight years of if’s, but’s, and what-might-have-been memories, the Ravens are looking to steamroll teams that dare to get in their way. Every game is a playoff game now. There is no room for error. The team is focused, collected, and I imagine pissed off! Lamenting the results of the past three seasons, the entire ball club is focused with a kind of quite fire that makes you feel sorry for inadequate teams that try to answer the bell.
In the player’s minds, the Colts are trying to not just take a victory this Sunday, but steal this season in which the entire Ravens organization feels is rightfully theirs. If you never saw the quite calm of Ip Man just before he confidently decimated his opponents, watch a couple clips and then you might have an idea of the hurting I expect the Ravens to put on the Colts today. (First clips on me.)
Prediction: Ravens 37 (with a defensive touchdown) Colts 17
Notes: Ravens had ~300 yards of rushing last week and the Colts are historically awful against the run. With Sunday’s game – plus another matchup against the Browns this year, Rice could rush for more than 1600 yards this season (and close to 2500 yards of total offense).
“Phil Dawson at halftime tried 5 kicks between 30 and 40 yards at that end and didn’t make any of them,” Harbs on Cundiff’s 2 missed field goals. Let’s relax. I’m pretty sure Cundiff hasn’t missed in the 4th quarter this year.
“The Ravens had the fewest number of drops in the NFL last year with 14. This season, they have the fourth-most with 26.” Get it together, especially you Anquan.
Amazing stat: Send Grubbs to the Probowl
Flacco’s TD Rate: 1 per 22 ; Sack Rate: 1 per 36 — with Grubbs
TD Rate: 1 per 40 ; Sack Rate: 1 per 17 — with Gurode
Finally, Why were the Ravens the 3rd seed (before Pittsburg won Thursday) behind Houston and New England? They beat Houston, but it doesn’t count because they didn’t also beat the Patriots who share the three-way tie (especially considering the Patriots and Texans have not played each other)? And the Patriots are in front of us because of conference record even though the Ravens have beaten more shared opponents? The playoff rules are starting to give me the kind of headache I get from the BCS.
p.s. The steelers can clinch a playoff birth this week and we can’t!? That’s crazy. Let’s get mad, take our revenge out on the Colts and send them home where they belong – Baltimore is Raven town, keep the ugly Horseshoe and 0-16 record.