Hopefully, the Ravens will not end up "Sleepless in Seattle" (I just needed to fit that in there somehow!). Baltimore gets a new start on their possible future as the rookie Heisman Trophy winner from THE Ohio State University, Troy Smith, makes his first start in the NFL. Smith has played a couple of series in the last two games, and has looked decent enough to give the 5th round pick from last year's draft the start by default. Ravens coach Brian Billick certainly would prefer to start five year vet Kyle Boller, although he's done nothing to prove he should be the QB of the future. However, the concussion he sustained at the end of the Dolphins game last week just hasn't cleared up and he may still end up as the backup to Smith. If he can't play at all, the Ravens will activate QB Cullen Finnerty from their Practice Squad. Finnerty is an undrafted rookie from Grand Valley State, which won three Division II National Championship with Finnerty accounting for almost 10,000 yards of offense for his career. Who knows, perhaps he'll get a whiff of play and if neither Boller or Smith are healthy for the final game at home against the Steelers, even he may end up being the "future!?"
In this wacky, disappointing and at times embarrassing season, nothing else could surprise me. Besides, wasn't Tom Brady a sixth round pick? Hmmm....
Anyway, on to the game. While Smith will provide an interesting challenge for the Seahawks, they will do more than that for him and the Ravens. They are almost unstoppable at home, where their defense has risen to championship levels in sacks and rushing yards allowed. Matt Hasselback has turned the offense into a passing frenzy, as they are relying less and less on Shaun Alexander and the running game. This bodes poorly for the Ravens depleted secondary, where they will be starting a nickel back and a recently activated Practice Squad player at cornerbacks. Most devastating is the news that All-World linebacker Ray Lewis may miss the game due to the dislocated finger he sustained in last Sunday's loss to the Dolphins. Losing key players at these three defensive positions would be a monumental barrier to victory to overcome and the Ravens have already proven their weakness in prior weeks games.
Today should be no different. The Ravens secondary has looked like a riot scene, with players running blindly in every direction, pointing fingers and holding theor arms up in the air, wondering where their teammates were. Opposing quarterbacks have found their receivers wide open in the secondary for huge gains time and time again. Hasselback should have a career day if he wants....by halftime. Most likely, the Seashawks will call off the dogs early in the second half and rest their starters. The Ravens will look respectable on offense, hopefully with minimal turnovers, which have hurt this team all season long. Baltimore leads the NFL in lost fumbles and for the Ravens to have any chance at keeping the score in respectable limits, they will need to protect Troy Smith and hold onto the ball.
Actually, I don't expect them to play mistake free football, as why start now? The Seashawks should have a cakewalk and let fans of both teams see the true direction of where their teams are going after the end of the month. For Seattle, it's onto the playoffs, hosting a first round game against either the NY Giants or Minnesota Vikings, according to my predictions (unless of course, the Giants do a complete face-plant and lose out and allow the Saints to creep into the sixth slot). In the meantime, my Ravens will be tuning into the games from the comforts of their living room sofas.