Go ahead, call me a 'homer' one more time. It doesn't bother me, read the name of this blog. It's called "Baltimore Beatdown" and I'm a purple-bleeding Ravens fan! By the looks of this series about my predictions on every game of the Ravens 2008 season, it should appear to the reader that I am looking at things through the eyes of an optimist, believing that this year's team will more closely resemble the 2006 team that went 13-3 than last year's 2007 team that plummeted to a 5-11 record. While that may be a reach to some, to me it is absolutely possible and even probable. The key to me is not so much the quarterback play, although believe me, it is very important. However, the number one key in my opinion has and will continue to be the overall health of this team. We've debated the most difficult position to replace due to injury and even though a majority of readers think it is the QB, there are a decent stock of backup QB's in this league. I still maintain that there is a vast emptiness in the reserve stock of decent cornerbacks out there and for much of the 2007 season, the Ravens were without BOTH of their starters, which proved disasterous.
I am predicting this season based on the hope that we will stay healthy ALL season long. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case only one week into Training Camp, although here's hoping that the current injuries are not serious enough to affect the regular season. If we do stay healthy through 2008, we will be a very competitive and dangerous team, one which no other team will look forward to on their schedule, because they know we will punish them physically, whether or not they win or lose.
A win in a game we were expected to lose and a 10-6 season is absolutely a possibility. At the same time, a loss in a game that we should win could change that record around just as easily. I think we are in much better shape at the QB position, as all three guys in the mix are young, strong and healthy, which is more than we could say at this time last season. Whomever ends up taking the first snap of the season will be more of an individual threat than Steve McNair was last season, with their arms as well as their legs. You can bet that new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will take that into effect when developing his playbook.
As part of my predictions, I am also guessing (isn't that all this is?) that the Ravens, while greatly improved over 2007, may in fact finish 10-6 in the upcoming season, but will fall just short in making the playoffs. I still expect the hated Steelers to repeat as AFC North division champs, and while Baltimore will compete up until the season's final whistle for the Wild Card slot, they will fall short due to the all-important tie breakers. However, if indeed the Ravens finish with a winning record, the off season and hope for the 2009 season will be a ton of fun, with eyes on a division crown and the possibility of playing deep into the post season on the minds of all Ravens fans and all over the local sports talk radio.
Bring on the exhibition games and the regular season. I just can't wait. Are you ready for some football!!!