Ravens Start Tough Three Game Stretch
Actually, based on the way they've played this season, all their games are going to be tough. However, when the season schedule was released, all Ravens fans pointed to this stretch of games, including at San Diego this Sunday, followed by national TV home games against New England on Monday Night Football and then the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night Football. Of course, the football schedule gods fully expected the Ravens to provide decent competition when they awarded these prime time games to Baltimore. Now us Ravens fans are praying the Pats don't do to us what they've done to everybody else on the national stage this season.
First stop is at San Diego. The Chargers have been a major disappointment themselves this season. However, at 5-5, they are still tied for the AFC West division lead and a win over the visiting Ravens this weekend will go a long way towards jump-starting their drive to a division crown. The Ravens limp into this game with a host of injuries, which have limited this team since the beginning of the season. Defensively, losing All-Pro linebacker Adalius Thomas hurt, but combined with the injury to DE Trevor Pryce, the Ravens not only lost over 20 sacks from last year, but put additional pressure on the other D-linemen by allowing offensive lines to double-team Terrell Suggs. This has resulted in less QB pressure and sacks, allowing the opposing QB's to pick apart the Ravens secondary, which itself has been decimated by injuries all season long as well.
Offensively, the QB switch from Steve McNair to Kyle Boller is actually a step in the right direction. You wouldn't have thought this at the beginning of the season, but the truth has come out over the cousse of the 2007 season, which is that Steve McNair is done. Boller offers a much stronger arm and while he doesn't have the smarts that McNair's experience brought to the team, he does have the legs to run out of trouble. Willis McGahee is one of the NFL's best backs, evidenced by his being among the league leaders despite a less than effective oft-injured offensive line. Todd Heap's injury has kept the middle of the field relatively off limits for the Ravens, allowing defenses to sit back and force the Ravens to constantly throw underneath.
All in all, it's been a very disappointing season and between the offensive turnovers and defensive lapses, this weekend's game in San Diego figures to only add to the pain of 2007. The only hope the Ravens have is for the Chargers' Phil Rivers to also have a bad game and contribute to the Ravens chances the same way our QB's have helped the opposition all season. While this might keep it close, don't expect the Chargers to provide enough help for the Ravens to pull off a victory on the road this week.
Check out the recent story in the Baltimore Sunpapers about my fanatical behavior as a Ravens fan!