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Around the AFC North

Wow, what a firestorm the Baltimore Ravens created up in Philly with the Donovan McNabb benching. I also thought Reid pulled him too early, as they were only down by three despite his wretched passing stats (13.2 QB rating). I would have waited until the game was pretty much out of reach, although that wasn't until mid-fourth quarter. Then he could have pulled him and inserted Kevin Kolb without any lingering controversy this week. Kolb had no time the prior week to practice with the first team and to throw him to the wolves right off the bat at the start of the second half was a recipe for disaster that the Ravens totally took advantage of. I can certainly think of a bunch of other teams that would make a much better shot for a QB to come in cold against than the multi-scheming Ravens. He had no shot and Reid looked like an idiot for the move. McNabb is a class guy and looked real calm on the sideline and in all those subsequent interviews on television. Tomorrow, he starts at home against the Arizona Cardinals and don't be surprised if he bounces back with a huge game. He's a professional and if the Philly brass and fans want to run him out of town, I'm sure he'd love to put on the pads and colors of his hometown Chicago Bears, who would welcome him home as their next Messiah!

Waaa, I have a broken pinky finger and can't play the rest of the year. Yes, that's the next great thing out in Clevelnad, Mr. Brady Quinn. So much for the introduction of the replacement for the ineffective Derek Anderson. Now Brown's coach Romeo Crennel doesn't need to flip a coin to see who's playing each week (or even each half) and can just stick with DA the rest of the season. Maybe they should even sign Anderson to another contract extension and give him more signing bonus dollars just to be sure Brady's little fingers gets better so he can do some more commercials and maybe even play some football. As a Ravens fans, the more pain the Browns fans suffer, the more happiness I gleam from their ineptitude in the front office, on the sidelines and on the playing field.

It looks like the Pittsburgh Steelers' DT Brad Keisel has not recovered from his previous injury, as he is now reportedly out for Sunday's game in New England and may be out a few more weeks beyond that. This only helps the Ravens and will hamper the Steelers run to the playoffs. Both of their cornerbacks are injured and may not play as well. Does that sound familiar? The Ravens tanked last year without both of their starting corners, although there's probably no way the Steelers' reserves are as bad as the Ravens were last year. They always find a way to stay in contention, so don't count them out just yet. However, I can't wait to see the Patriots' Matt Cassel go for 400 yards against them this week! Yes, he's on my fantasy team, not that it will matter for the last place Wonder Dogs, who are out of playoff contention due to my wonderfully poor draft. Dammit all to hell Matt Hasselbeck and Jamal Lewis!

In between the week that the Steelers face the Patriots this Sunday and the Ravens in two weeks, they host the high flying Dallas Cowboys. Even though that game is at Heinz Field, the Cowboys are desperately fighting for a playoff spot and will not be a pushover, even at home. That will be a real tough three game stretch for Pittsburgh and will absolutely define their season. Winning two of three will be considered success, but I'm looking at one of three at best, with the definite possibility that they go o-fer, and perhaps even drop out of contention for a playoff spot, as they still will have to go to Tennessee the week after playing us, which could be the fourth game in a row against top playoff teams. While they should be able to beat the Cleveland Browns in the season's final game, they could conceivably finish the last five games as bad as 1-4, which would give them a 9-7 record and a seat on the couch watching the playoffs on TV in January. Yes, that would be so sweet for us Ravens fans!

The Cincinnati Bengals hve turned from the soap opera team of the summer into the forgotten ugly sister in the AFC North. Yeah, there's still all the talk about letting head coach Marvin Lewis go after the season, as well as the normal get rid of Chad Johnson and even TJ Houshmandzadeh. However, based on their stellar 1-9-1 record, there isn't much to talk about. It would be different if they were tied with the winless Detroit Lions and winless themselves, but a win and a tie put them well above the hapless Lions, who have a great chance of running the table and joining the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the only winless teams in NFL history. At least the Bungels have an excuse and that's the loss of QB Carson Palmer to an arm injury that for some unknown reason, he's still trying to come back from and play this season. However, something tells me that their record might not be much different even if he was still lining up under center. Current Bengals QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is running for his life behind an awful offensive line and might just get his head knocked off this week against the Ravens. Hopefully, we'll take this game as seriously as the ones coming up and not overlook Cincinnati as the Bengals destroyed us in their crib last season and even though we beat them opening day this year, we still owe them big time for sweeping us last year.

Let's take them one at a time and take care of business this Sunday at Cincy and then come home to prepare to show the entire league why this team is one to be reckoned with as we've gotten literally zero respect from the so-called "experts" who rank us the lowest of any team with a 7-4 record in their Power Rankings. We will get that chance when we play on national TV next Sunday night at home against our hated neighbors to the south, the Washington Redskins. First the Redskins need to get their second beating of this season from the New York Giants. Then they can come here for us to start their bruising all over again on December 7th.

Bring it on!