At least, so far. Yeah, in Pittsburgh is a big deal and I am not taking anything away from that, but without Ben that game lacked a certain “Je ne sais quoi”. For me, I am even more stoked about this Sunday’s game, I guess because the positive outcome (vice the negative outcome) bodes an even greater potential payoff. Think of it: if the Ravens pull this victory off, they can say they beat the Jets, Cinci and the Patsies, on the road(!) in the first six weeks of the season. No other NFL team, I think, can point to such an accomplishment this year, so far.
New England is similar to the Denver team we just dismantled. New England is lacking in the running game and while Brady is still Brady, hair and all, I think at least psychologically defenses get a boast with Moss no longer in the picture. And our pass defense has been spot on all year (Landry notwithstanding). So for the first time in a long time I like our defense’s chances against the vaulted New England offense going in.
Our running game is on track (finally!) and after the abject failure of the first series against Denver, we seemed to have remembered how to jam the ball down peoples’ throats. Flacco and the passing game have steadily improved each week thereby resulting in a very balanced attack which is fairly potent and has multiple weapons. And, as admitted, New England can be passed on. Plus, I think New England is just a little “soft”.
Having said all that, one would think I would predict a solid Ravens win, if not a rare road blowout. But three things occur on the way to that forum: 1) BB is like *perfect* for lifetime coming out of the bye week. Yeah, people sometimes question how smart he really is, but that is a bunch of bunk. Village idiots do not win three SuperBowls. I expect no less than a near perfect gameplan from BB. 2) The revenge factor. We downright shocked, awed and embarrassed the Patsies, in their house, on a national stage, in the playoffs. Ego, pride, etc, are going to be redeemed in some form or fashion. I expect no less than an all out effort from the Patsies where to a man, they are going to throw everything including the kitchen sink, and then some, at us, right out of the gate. And we need to be prepared for that. And 3) it is a road game. Cinci is looking to be not as good as people thought and we lost to them, on the road. We beat the Jets and P-burgh by a combined four points –not exactly having our way with either of them. Winning on the road is the hardest thing to do. Period.
So here it is. I think we still prevail, but barely: 24 – 23 Ravens in a nail-biter.
Footnote: someone else posted that the Vegas line was 3 or 2.5, depending. I say if you can get the Ravens plus the 3, smile, smile, smile... And if you can play a two-fer parley of Ravens plus the points and taking the over, could be a big payday...