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NFL Inquest, Inconsistency Edition

tom brady before he ruled the worldIt’s safe to say that the AFC North is all about the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens. Odds are very good that one of them will win the division, and odds are slightly less good that the one who doesn’t win the divison will get a Wild Card berth. Some of you might call me crazy for saying that, but I still think the Ravens have a damn good shot.

Their bye week comes at exactly the right time, and even if they lose to Pittsburgh on Nov. 5th (by no means a sure thing) they’re still in position — assuming they’re a healthy 4-4 — to make a run. The New England and Indy games are both at home. I’m prepared to go on record saying they win one of them. I could also easily see this team beating both Seattle and San Diego. It’s far from far-fetched.

I’ve got plenty of issues with the Ravens organization, but I’m a smart enough observer to know that you simply don’t count them out at this stage. There’s more than enough ammo left in that clip.

Having said that, everybody right now (NFC teams included) is jockeying for third place behind the Patriots and Colts. If conventional wisdom holds, and injuries don’t rise up on either side, their matchup on Nov. 4th (at Indy) should serve as a preview of the AFC Championship game. But remember this much: conventional wisdom is usually wrong.

As good as the Pats look now they’re still just one key injury or scandal or locker-room issue away from falling back to the pack. We’re still only in week seven. Take a deep breath, folks.

On the NFC side, I think that EaglesBears game pretty much said it all: there’s talent all around and nobody is dominant. The Cowboys and Packers certainly look good, and will probably make the playoffs, but what then? Among the other teams (Redskins, Lions, Panthers, Bucs, Seahawks, Giants) who look like they have a shot, can you really pick a favorite?

Don’t be surprised if three teams from the East wind up in the dance.

As you consider all of this, take a moment to pity the Dolphins and the Rams. It’s not just that they’re both 0-7, it’s that they both should have been so much better. That’s gotta be a rough way to live.

10 comments to NFL Inquest, Inconsistency Edition

  • Joe the Guy

    No pity for the Dolphins they made their bed:

    They chose to go after Culpepper instead of Drew Brees, they used thier first round pick on some shitty receiver instead of having balls and gambling on Brady Quinn….and THEN they traded Chris Chambers….no pity for rotting fish……

    everything you said about the ravens is legit, they are a perpetual playoff team for a reason and they should go back to being a force once key injuries heal

    that’s if and only if Ray Lewis shuts the hell up. You don’t call out the coach on your radio show …

    These are the things that make the Patriots enviable – this shit just doesn’t happen under Bellicheck

    I’ll be the first to admit you should run when you need 1 yard for a first down. At least TRY to run, if only once…….

    But I heard Ray Lewis’ rant and he sounded like a crying child. If I was Billick I would be well pissed off.

    Hey Ray – it’s pretty easy to coach last week’s game the following Tuesday from the comforts of a radio station, you grumpy old man

  • neal s

    I’ve got zero love for Ray Lewis. He’s about Ray Lewis above all else, and any benefit to the team as a result is strictly trickle-down. Him saying what he said doesn’t surprise me in the least.

  • ray lewis plays hard.

    redskins will make it a fight but probably lose late. unless no. 21 sidelines, say, randy moss. which could happen. to my knowledge … 30 year skins fan … they’ve never been 16.5 point dogs ever.

  • the Ravens are doomed. McNair will never be the same and will get injured again, and Boller… Well, do I really need to comment on Boller?

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    Keep trying Neal. Hate all you want on Ray Lewis. He’s a Hall of Famer that rubs people the wrong way, mostly fans of opposing teams like the Steelers.

    You know what’s hilarious to me? How people in the know i.e. coaches, players, analysts, etc. constantly use Ray Lewis as an example of how much leadership, work ethic, film study, and passion can dictate a a whole team’s success, and how knee-jerk haters tend to grasp at straws like “He celebrated after a two yard gain”! and “He called out the coach”!

    He is a coach. If you knew anything about the Ravens you’d know that Ray is the coach on the field and has defined this defense for ten years. By the way, those ten years have been spent playing on the other side of one of the most inept offenses ever assembled over a ten-year period.

    Name me the players that have taken Superbowl defenses onto the field year in and year out and never blame the offense for the team’s failures. You can’t.

    Brian Billick deserves every bit of what Ray said on his radio show. I’m glad that somebody that he has to listen to and not dismiss had the balls to say it and the heart to keep playing as hard (injured) as he does every week.

  • random dude

    Right on BBM,

    I was thinking when I read the line about Ray only being about Ray, what about week 1, when he played with basically one arm for pretty much the entire game. Where was the personal gain there? He plays hurt all the time, so there are a lot more examples like that. I think that that is a top example of putting the team above everything else.

    Also, kind of off topic, what game was it (Rams?) when he changed the play on the field because he saw something from the offense. They stuffed the offense on the next play, then when Rex asked him about it, he just smiled and said, “you know I got your back coach.” How can you hate a guy like that? Every Ravens (player, coach, higher up) says that he is a great example of leadership, work ethic, everything BBM says. Agree 100%.

    Also, I’m not giving up on the Ravens yet for the season, but I’d say Nov. 5 is a MUST WIN. We’re coming back healthy and we need to go on a tear. We shouldn’t have lost the games we lost, injured or not. We’ve looked bad. But we still have one more chance in my opinion. If we lose to Pit on MNF, we’re in trouble.

  • Joe the Guy

    BBM and Random Dude,

    There is a time and a place for everything.

    If he was truly a leader he would have realized how distracting it is to play this out through the media. He would have mentioned his frustrations during a closed-door meeting. That would have been more effective.

    How is Billick supposed to take this seriously? How can he take it as anything more than Ray pleading with ESPN for more attention?

    Playing hard, playing hurt, or both, is not a license to run your mouth.

    His on the field his skills and leadership are unquestionable.

    However, I won’t praise a guy for being a leader if all that he’s trying to lead is a mutiny.

    Billick’s decision to pass (pass and pass some more) reflects more on Big Willy McGahee than anything else….that’s pretty obvious

    well…..to everyone except Ray Lewis

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle


    I’ll try to research the numbers I heard last week regarding Billick’s 3rd/4th down short yardage play-calling, namely 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1 this year. It’s abysmal and more importantly in absolutely CRITICAL points in each game, namely 4th quarter down by less than 7 points.

    That doesn’t even begin to tell the story of the dink and dunk bullshit that routinely leaves our inept offense short of the 1st down marker. Rob Long brought up a GREAT point today about this being the whackest, most self-defeating version of the “West coast offense” anybody’s ever seen.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    So I was thinking today about posting one example a day of how not “about Ray Lewis” Ray Lewis is short of wanting the tools around him to do what he does best. Funny what I came across when I read today’s Sun:

    Counting down the Top 10 moments at Ravens stadium: No. 8

    The Ravens’ downtown stadium, which is currently called M&T Bank Stadium, is celebrating its 10th season of existence. We’re going to look at the Top 10 moments in its history, listing two each day.

    8. Bart Scott clocking Big Ben. Nov. 26, 2006

    In what could go down as the most violent hit in the stadium’s history, Ravens linebacker Bart Scott laid out quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in a 27-0 win, which all but ended the Pittsburgh Steelers’ chances of repeating as Super Bowl champions.

    Relentless pressure led to a team record-tying nine sacks, and the most memorable came from Scott late in the second quarter.

    Scott came untouched from the left side to nail Roethlisberger in the chest and drive him into the turf. Roethlisberger, who was involved in a serious motorcycle accident in the offseason, laid on his back for several minutes before walking off the field on his own.

    “That’s probably the hardest I’ve ever been hit in my life,” Roethlisberger said. “I just kind of remember my head hitting the ground. I couldn’t really breathe very well.”

    Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs remembers he stopped covering his man when Scott delivered the blow.

    “I was 30 yards downfield and I heard it,” he said.

    Ray Lewis knelt beside a motionless Roethlisberger during the painful, suspenseful moments after the vicious sack.

    Said Lewis: “I was just praying … and I was saying, `Just make sure you get up. Your teammates are watching. Your family is out there somewhere. Just get up.’

    Also later that season after the Ravens beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh I remember Bill Cowher (facing retirement) getting choked up when talking about the conversation he had with Ray after the game and how special a person he was. He wouldn’t even say what Ray said, just that it meant a lot to him.

    This will be the first post in a long series

  • random dude

    “Billick’s decision to pass (pass and pass some more) reflects more on Big Willy McGahee than anything else….that’s pretty obvious”

    The guy is 2nd in the league in total yards and is averaging a respectable 4.4 yards/carry. I know he had a lot (47?) of yards on one play last week, but i don’t care how he gets them as long as keeps racking them up. I mean, wasn’t that a major issue w/ J. Lew last year (besides the tap dancing in the backfield and inability to hit a hole), was his inability to break a big run. How can you take away from McGahee’s totals b/c he did break a big run. I’ve heard that argument a lot of times before, “yeah, but if you take away that one big play, then look at his numbers,” and I hate it. That was a good solid run, why would you take that away. If you take away all the big runs MJD had last year he would have had a terrible year. If you take away all the big runs LT has, he’s an average running back. Also, McGahee is rushing behind a line starting 3 rookies. I hate to take the injury cop out, but it doesn’t seem like there’s been that many holes to hit, and he’s still been gaining yards. I want to see what he can do with JO.

    I realize that McGahee seems to take himself out a lot, and needed an IV for dehydration, and I’ve heard the speculation about him partying too much. But he’s been in the games several times when the game called for a run and Billick chose to pass. You can’t blame that on McGahee.

    Musa Smith does not have good numbers this year (averaging less than 3 yards per carry…. BARF) and we rarely get a Mike Anderson siting, but I’d still say both guys are decent to solid fill ins when McGahee takes a play or two off.

    I just don’t see how you said McGahee is the reason Billick is passing all the time. What are you seeing differently.

    Oh, and on Ray,
    Yeah, he shouldn’t have made the statement public. I agree with what he said, and am glad someone said it. (except I WOULD have thrown deep on 2nd and 1… but RAN on 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1… Ray said run on all 3). But, it shouldn’t have been him who said it. That being said, I think that throughout his career, he has shown enough leadership on and off the field that you really can’t say he’s not a leader because of one statement. I think you have to just brush this one off to frustration. It shouldn’t have been said, but it doesn’t ruin his reputation of leadership.