The Ravens reach the halfway point at 5-3, which is a huge upgrade over the previous eight games at the end of last year. At this point, they should still be in the playoff hunt and if healthy, their young players, especially on the offensive line and at QB, will only get better with more experience.
Unfortunately, as much as it hurts and I truly hate the whiny Cleveland Browns, I don't see the Ravens winning their second half opener on the road. "Wah, Baltimore took our team in 1996!" Yeah, and left the name and colors through the sentimental generosity of former Browns and Ravens owner Art Modell. Modell, who incidently is old and sick, should absolutely, positively be inducted into the Hall of Fame before he passes away and the voters have the chance to get real and right a very wrong mistake instead of listening to some sorry and bitter Cleveland sportswriters. His contributions to the NFL are long and instrumental in the league's success. Cleveland's mayor refused to support the team financially and waited until he left for Baltimore to build a new stadium. Had he done this when Modell begged for one, the Browns would have never left Cleveland. Besides, Cleveland waited all of what, two years for a new team with their original name and colors? Baltimore lost their name, colors and even their team records, which, incidently, are now only listed under the name of the Indianapolis Colts. Can you believe that Johnny Unitas' Hall of Fame bust and records are listed under the Indianapolis Colts team name!? What a travesty of justice. One more thing- the city of Baltimore was forced to wait 14 seasons before they got another NFL team. They tried to do it through expansion, but former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue told Baltimore fans to use their money to build a museum instead of trying to get another franchise. After realizing how he was railroading this city and denying us a fair chance at an expansion team, we figured out that this was the only way we would ever get back into the NFL. After all of our glorious football history, the city and fans of Baltimore deserved a lot better than that!
But we digress, as this post should be about the game in week 9. The Ravens will still not be a great road team in 2008. The defense will show up, no matter if they play at home, in Cleveland or on any sandlot field. However, I expect the youngsters on offense to play poorly enough to give the game away to the Browns by turning the ball over to the Cleveland offense deep in the Ravens territory to allow the Browns to outscore the Ravens. Baltimore usually averages around 10 points less on the road than at home. They will give up enough points to the Browns to prevent a comeback. Putting the chance at success on the young QB, regardless as to whom it will be, is a tough task, as the Ravens strength on offense is still their running game. Forced to pass to stay in the game will be their downfall. Disappointing, but a win-able game will just not happen this week.
Oh, how I hate the Browns, but I try to keep it real and a season series split is what we'll get in 2008.
Browns: 27 Ravens: 17
Season Record: 5-4