Well, how many of you would have predicted that these two teams would be at opposite ends of the spectrum at this point of the season? Certainly, Cincinnati Bengals fans would have thought they would, but the records would have been exchanged between the teams. I predicted a Ravens win in game one, mainly because I thought the Ravens were better than they were being given credit for, and that the Bengals were not as good as they were being given credit for. Cincinnati was even a favorite coming into M&T Bank Stadium as the visitor, but left bitter and angy after a 17-10 Ravens victory that was not as close as the final score indicated. The only TD scored by the Bengals was off of a Ray Rice fumble late in the game. Rookie QB Joe Flacco, making his first career NFL start, was unremarkable but still had a 38 yard jaunt to the end zone for his first career TD.
Still the Bengals fans gave us no credit. He is a quote from a post by one of their fans after that week one Ravens victory:
Gee, I wonder what they're thinking today. I remember they also dissed our city, saying there was nothing to do and it was all filled with trash and empty syringes. I resent that remark, as there are really not THAT many empty syringes!
Now, we have two teams headed in completely different directions. The Bengals will have a ton of decisions to make after December is over. The first will be whether or not to retain head coach Marvin Lewis. While Lewis will always occupy a warm spot in Ravens' fans' hearts due to being our defensive coordinator in our Super Bowl season, he has not exactly earned a wonderful reputation as a head coach. Heck, if we lost Rex Ryan to a head coaching position next year, I'd gladly take him back into his old position here. What do the Bengals do with their talented, yet disgruntled receiving corps? I'll gladly take either of their "castoffs" onto our roster. Finally, I'm not too sure what the Bengals and Carson Palmer are thinking as he is still on their active roster and considering the possibility of making an appearance before the end of this season. I posted the question over at Cincy Jungle, asking them what did they hope to gain other than further injuring his arm beyond its current status? The way their backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has been running for his life, their offensive line could get Palmer killed or risk a career-ending injury for no reason whatsoever.
On the other hand, the Ravens are fighting not only for a playoff spot, but are hot on the heels of the division leading Pittsburgh Steelers for the lead in the AFC North. The remainder of the season schedule favors the Ravens and a couple of tough losses by Pittsburgh, including their December 14th rematch in Baltimore, would give the Ravens the division title and a possible first round playoff bye followed by at least one home playoff game. This would be the topping on the cake for a truly improbable 2008 season, where most experts had the Ravens finishing below .500 in 2008, and the Bengals certainly somewhere above us.
Next thing we know, the stock market will shoot up, there will be peace in the Middle East, and Osama bin Laden will turn himself in. What, are you crazy!? The other stuff is a possibility, but the Ravens winning the AFC North!? Insane!