All the talk this week has been that the Ravens were facing off against the San Francisco 49ers, a rematch of the famous 'lights out' Super Bowl XLVII. While there are still a few familiar faces, just about everything between the two teams has changed enough to where this isn't a mid-season Super Bowl, it's a mid-season Toilet Bowl.
The biggest change for the Baltimore Ravens is that linebacker Ray Lewis would retire at the end of the Super Bowl season while safety Ed Reed probably wished he had. Neither Hall of Fame players are on the Ravens' roster this season and are so far removed from the team that they wouldn't recognize it any longer.
Add to that that San Francisco would eventually get rid of head coach and John Harbaugh's brother Jim Harbaugh. After his departure, the Niners underwent one of the weirdest offseasons that saw several players retire at a relatively young age. With all the retirements, the 49ers went from a playoff mindset all the way to a rebuild mindset that has them rumored to be putting major players on the trade block.
Just in case that all wasn't enough to convince you that things have gone topsy-turvy in just a few years, the Ravens two wide receivers, Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin, are no longer Ravens. Where did they go you ask? Well the 49ers picked them up and they are their two biggest weapons on that offense. It's almost like the teams completely switched places on that front.
This season, the Ravens have wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. who looks like he will miss the game with fractured bones in his back. The rest of the Ravens roster seems to be hurt as well, leaving the team with a lot of rookies and unproven players across the board. With both teams nursing some injuries and both teams sitting at 1-4, this probably isn't how the NFL drew it up at the beginning of the season. I'm sure they expected to replay some of the Super Bowl highlights and expect for a slugfest. Instead, we'll probably get some Super Bowl highlights followed up by a slap fight between two teams that can't seem to get out of their own way.
This isn't to say that the Baltimore Ravens aren't a good team. They are in their own weird way, just like the 49ers are a team that can suddenly turn it on and be competitive themselves. Yet, so far this season, we've seen two teams that just refuse to live up to the potential that they have. One of them has decided to call it a year and see what they can do to retool it while the other is still clawing at the hopes of a Playoff game. By the end of the night, we'll know which season plan was worth it.