Whoa guys, before you all hit the "Add Comment" button, and plan to crucify me, read on to see my meaning of this headline!
The Baltimore Ravens were supposed to be pretty much the same team in 2008 that they were in 2007, according to the so-called "experts." The 2007 version was riddled with injuries in key position, much more so than they were this year, despite the number of players that the Ravens have placed on IR in 2008. However, the key difference regarding the injuries is that this year they are much better prepared with quality reserves compared to the worthless guys they ran out there to replace the injured starters in 2007.
Even though I predicted a winning season this summer, I never expected the Ravens to make the post season and garner the accolades they've earned this season. In fact, I'm sure not too many people felt strong enough to place the bets down in Vegas or online that the Ravens would even go over the 7 or 8 games that Vegas was prediciting to be their win total for 2007. I'm sure the fans of the Cowboys, Broncos, Patriots, Jets, Browns, Jaguars, Redskins, Saints and Buccaneers certainly saw their teams as better and going further than the Ravens. I'm sure the Browns, Bengals and the rest of the teams that received beatdowns from the Ravens never expected THAT to happen this season.
THAT's the disappointment that has made the Baltimore Ravens this season's most disappointing team in the league. Yeah, you could also put the Atlanta Falcons in that category and perhaps even the Miami Dolphins. However, since the Ravens have already defeated the Dolphins this year as the underdog after being embarassed by them last year for the Dolphins only win of 2007, I'm putting us ahead of them, despite their record-breaking turnaround, for which they deserve a ton of credit. Likewise for the Falcons, whom everyone thought that franchise was in total disarray after the Michael Vick drama and the drafting of a rookie QB to lead them this season. However, the Ravens had zero intention of having the rookie Joe Flacco lead them to the promised land in 2008, as he was listed as the 3rd stringer on the QB depth chart and only made the move to starter by default. Once again, that moves the Ravens up over the Falcons as well as the league's MDT (Most Disappointing Team).
Who did we disappoint? Certainly not the Ravens fans, players or management. No, other than perhaps the fans, the others probably saw it coming all along, as they go into every season knowing they have a chance to compete (just like the Orioles, right!?). If you look at the success we had this season, it appears we are more like the 2006 team that went 13-3 than the 2007 one that finished 5-11. We lost, or more correctly, Brian Billick lost four games last season that we definitely would have won this year - at least. The opening Cincy game, the Bills and Dolphins games come quickly to mind on that thought. I'm sure we all could "regurgitate" more of we wanted to stab ourselves in the heart again and again.
But I digress, as this is about this year's Ravens. Unfortunately, we will continue to "disappoint" others, as we head into Miami for a rematch of our October 19th 27-13 victory. The Dolphins fans shout that they had injured starters and are a much better team than they were then. I totally agree, as both teams were 2-3 going into that game and each finished up winning nine of their last eleven games. So, they both must be better teams, but which is still better? To me, the stats don't lie, and when you look at both sides of the ball, you see a better Ravens team based on the numbers. However, as all Ravens fans know, you don't play the games on paper. At the same time, when was the last time a Ravens offense was better than the opponents on paper? Combined with the huge difference between the defenses and the fact that everyone knows that defense travels better than offense, Ravens fans can rely on Ed Reed, Ray Lewis and company taking care of business. Between those two and Willis McGahee, as fomer players from the "U," they will have a ton of friends and family there along with the thousands of Ravens fans who made the trip in October and will do the same this weekend. This will almost be a "home" game with all the loud, proud and purple fans we'll see and hear this Sunday.
The Ravens, to the dismay of many others, will continue to be a disappointing" team deep into 2009.