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November 9, 2008

Ravens: Now for the real test

flaccogetty1109.jpgThe Ravens just put together their most complete performance of the year, an all-around butt-whipping made all the more impressive because it was their third consecutive road victory and improved their record to 4-1 in this grueling span of six games that includes five road stops.

Trouble is, the last stop will be at the Meadowlands, where the Ravens can either bridge their narrowing credibility gap or fall victim to the same fate they met in Indianapolis.

My gut tells me they'll give a decent account of themselves -- that they really are a much better team than they were a few weeks ago -- but they haven't beaten a playoff team yet and they're going to play the defending Super Bowl champions on the road.

If they pull the upset, the debate will be over. No one will be able to deny that they are a legitimate playoff contender ... and perhaps more. If they battle to a respectable loss, they'll still be more than viable. If they unravel the way they did against the Colts, then there's still reason to wonder whether they can get to nine wins with their difficult late-season schedule.

Let's be honest. If I had told you after the Colts game that the Ravens would win four of their next five games, every one of you would have signed an ironclad contract to accept that outcome. Now they have four wins in the bank and a chance to make a major statement next weekend. Nothing wrong with that, especially with rookie quarterback Joe Flacco (shown at left about to make a throw in today's win) seeming to make a developmental leap with every game.

The thing that has impressed me the most is the way Cam Cameron has turned the Ravens' offensive game plan into a weekly guessing game for opponents. This week, Joe Flacco went vertical and Todd Heap re-emerged as a major factor downfield. Troy Smith lined up in the Suggs Package, then fooled the Texans with a standard throw for a touchdown.

It'll be tougher next week, but the Ravens seem to have new offensive weapons at their disposal every week. If the defense can hold the Giants to 20 points, the Ravens have a chance to show the rest of the league that they can beat anyone, anywhere.

The Continental: My vacation continues tomorrow on a new continent, which will limit my participation here for about 10 days. I'll pop in when I can, and my baseball teammates, Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly, will drop in an item here and there to keep the well primed with Orioles info. Your comments will continue to be posted regularly, but the level of interaction will be limited. I hope everybody understands.

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Posted by Peter Schmuck at 5:29 PM | | Comments (29)
Categories: Just football
        

Comments

Just curious as to why you don't blog on the Sun's Raven page.


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Pete's reply: Because my blog is supposed to be primarily baseball in season. I branch out late in the year, but we also have Ravens Insider and Bill Ordine doing football stuff.

I think the Ravens will hold their own against the Giants.

I think the Giants themselves suffered from credibility issues last season. Yeah, they won the Super Bowl but they were more NFC survivors.

However, this year the Giants have established themselves as the class of the NFC.

The Ravens have a tall order, but they are following a big but relatively unemotional win over Houston. They were drained after Cleveland, will have had two weeks to recover from that rivalry game, and will be ready to face the Giants. If Flacco doesn't get flapped against the Giants, the Ravens will prove themselves to be for real.

The Ravens just beat a top 5 ranked offensive team today, I'm pretty sure they can hang with the Giants next week. It's all about patience and confidence people!

Schmucker:

How do you rate a 10 day vacation? Did Steve Davis pull that one off for you?

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Pete's reply: No, Davis is the reason I need it.

As a die hard Ravens fan this team is refreshing. I have been a fan of this franchise since 1977 (yes, when they were the original Cleveland Browns) and I remember how I loved watching Brian Sipe, and later Bernie Kosar, drop back to pass the football and I watched with such confidence that every throw would be successful. And I bring that up because now in Joe Flacco, the Ravens finally have that franchise quarterback like those two, in my opinion. There has been a political theme of "change" but I am so happy that an offensive change has taken place with the Ravens and "we" finally have a complimentary offense to go along with a stud defense...WOW, it is amazing to see!

Peter, Florida is not a new continent.

Peter....

From all your fans....travel safely.

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Pete's reply: Thanks. I appreciate that.

Go have fun, Pete. We'll hang in here and root for the birds, be they in purple or orange. Rest up and we'll see you when you get back. I bet we have some surprising wins to discuss when you return.

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Pete's reply: I hope you're right.

Cameron has done an outstanding job, however, he MUST stop that option flip behind the line of scrimmage. Ray Rice fumbled it earlier in the year, and the other team ran it back for a TD, and Willis had a problem catching it once today. Bad things can happen from that play, because if its a bad flip there is nobody behind the runner.


LOSE THAT PLAY FROM THE PLAYBOOK!! IT'S TROUBLE!

So which continent? You think we're gong to try to follow you?

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Pete's reply: Europe, and you're welcome to follow me.

Just enjoy the Ravens this season and let stats be history as they are. They don't tell you anything about the future. Go Ravens!

Petah,

YOU are the epitome of The Continental....

signed
Christopher Walken

Oh goodie just what we need Baseball news. Do you think anyone really cares about the orioles when the Ravens are playing so well. When was the last time the orioles had a winning record. Thats right no one cares to remember.


..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Well, there are some Baltimore sports fans who can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Cam Cameron is making the Bilick/Cavanaugh combination look like fools. We finally have a coodinator who puts together a game plan that exploits the other teams weaknesses. After a decade of offensive futility, it is really fun to watch this team play. I think they can go 4-3 with the remaining schedule or even better. Jax and Cincy are two probable wins, and then we need to squeek out two more against the NFC East or the Steelers. It will be tough but three NFC East teams are not as good as they were in the first few games of the season. The Giants are though!

Pete,

I don't know what to do...Peter King has the Ravens as the 3rd best team in the NFL right now(MMQ). I loathe the guy, but I still read his columns just so I can say how mcuh I hate his writing(his name dropping, left wing propoganda and arrogance are beyond annoying) but he respects the Ravens now, probably the only one in the national media, what do I do? Still hate the guy? Or be happy he likes my Ravens and has actually given them some credit?

Pete,

Have a nice vacation.

Just so you know, Africa is a continent and not a country.

I've sent a certified letter to Roger Goodell filing a formal protest regarding the Ravens-Texans game. By completely manipulating the schedule to postpone their original game date with the Texans due to some hurricane, the Ravens gained an unfair advantage. This gave them time for their starting quarterback to develop and the Texans' quarterback got hurt and were forced to start the backup from Overlea's JV. This sinister plan even involved the raven fan base to "cry foul" at the time of the postponement. I suggested to Mr. Goodell that he contact Tagliabue to come up with a harsh penalty, since he never liked Baltimore.

Hey Pete...I believe it is fair to cast some doubt in the Ravens not being able to put away the champs (Giants). You are right, they have not beaten a playoff team yet...but I believe they can play them close regardless. As long as we don't try to much of that trickery stuff. The Giants will not go for it. Since we are best at stopping the run, we can force Manning to beat us (don't know if that is a good thing though). Our secondary has been looking suspect at best. It is a change to see the Ravens offense carry a game now. Where the D lets us down, it seems the offense picks up the slack. I can't remember the last time I have ever seen them do that...you? I have been impressed on how well they have kept their collective composure when there has been bad calls, or injured players. I hope they can beat the Giants, but if they don't, it is a long road to make the playoffs. The Steelers schedule looks pretty easy compared to our 2nd half. Hope the winning streak served as a primer on how to manage games for Flacco and Cam...cuz we are about to see what the Ravens are really made of in the next month. You agree right?

Ain’t the beer cold?

Go to war, miss Agnes!

The Ravens seem to have found an offense! Unfortunately, Boller and Smith had to have physical problems for Flacco to be the starter right away! It appears that Harbaugh uses ALL of the team to achieve victories!

I will never call Harbaugh an “offensive genius” because I don’t want to jinx him (Billick was called an “offensive genius”)! Unfortunately, Billick didn’t produce any real offense to speak of…

But, the Ravens are beginning to remind me of the Baltimore Colts (John, Lenny, Raymond, Artie, Gino, etc.)! Flacco looks real cool in the pocket! He usually has the time to pick out a receiver and puts the ball right on the money!

Now, on to the Giants, a really tough team! I hope that I feel the same way next week!

Bob,

Pete King also rated Hines Ward as "Good Guy of the Week." So, keep hating him.

I think the Ravens are going to surprise a lot of people against the Giants. The Philly defense did a very good job shutting the Giants offense down early, and if the Philly offense had ever come out in the first half, and the Philly D hadn't spent the whole game on the field they could easily have won.
The Ravens D is better than Philly's, and I'm beginning to think their offense is too, amazing as it is to write that. Also, the Giants just had a very tough, physically and emotionally draining game and will be facing the Ravens after a short week.
Ravens by a TD.

Peter,

You have to remember that against the Colts Flacco was still feeling his way around. Everyone has to forget about that one awful game and realize that this isn't the same team it was, even a few weeks ago.

Good Lord. Hurry back Pete. There is no intelligent life outside of the Schmuck Stops Here!

The key to beating the Giants will be extensive PRESS COVERAGE !!!!!
Our Cornerbacks lack this element, which we have to correct fast !
The rest of the Team (other then Special teams) is standing strong. If we fail to correct the C-Back situation this week, Manning will throw for at least 800 yds against our sorry Corners.
We need to sign someone this week !!!!
Pressure on the Q-back is no problem, but pressure against the pass is our downfall !
Come on Ray... Kick some ass on these Corners man !

Its so good to see the Ravens have an Offense.. I live in Tampa, FL and watch all my games at a sports bar. Yesterday while me and my G/F are watch'n the game we noticed a a group of Bear fans next to us watch'n the Bears/ Titans game. Just to see the pain and Agony on their faces as Rex threw bad pass after bad pass, made me appriciate even more the play of Flacco and the new offence.. I turned to the Bear fans and said I feel your pain I've sat and watched too many bad QB's as a Ravens fan, but boy am I glad them days are over...

Ravens fans are talking playoffs. PLAYOFFS ????
The teams they've beaten are 14-31(that's 69% lost).
I think they'll be 8-8 after their next 7games.What do you think ?
Bill

Also,...I've been working in the NJ NY PA areas during the week and WE HAVE TO BEAT NY and PHILA. Guy's We GOTTA Man !!! PLease !
Oh yeah MORE HEAP !!!!!!!!!

If we lose to the Giants by a touchdown or less on the road I will still be impressed. The Ravens D is better than the Eagles, it's unlikely the Giants put up 30+ points against em, maybe 20-24. The defense has got to get more of a pass rush going they've been a little disappointing the last few weeks and they are going against maybe the best O-line in the league. Get a pass rush going, get Eli to make mistakes and they got a chance.

What concerns me is that the young O-line was not very good against the Steelers pass rush and the Giants is just as strong, I'm hoping Flacco doesn't get sacked five times again. If they can contain those pass rushers than that secondary is somewhat vulnerable and Flacco can make some plays. If not than it could be a long game, this is the one game where I'm just not as much of an optimist but I'm hoping for the best.

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About Peter Schmuck
Peter Schmuck wants you to know that, contrary to popular belief, he is more than just a bon vivant, raconteur and collector of blousy flowered shirts. He is a semi-respected journalist who has covered virtually every sport -- except luge, of course – and tackled issues that transcend the mere games people play. If that isn’t enough to qualify him to provide witty, wide-ranging commentary on the sports world ... and the rest of the world, for that matter ... he is an avid reader of history, biography and the classics, as well as a charming blowhard who pops off on both sports and politics on WBAL Radio. That means you can expect a little of everything in The Schmuck Stops Here, but the major focus will be keeping you up to the minute on Baltimore’s major sports teams and themes, whether it’s throwing up the Orioles lineup the minute it’s announced or updating you on the latest sprained ankle in Owings Mills. Oh, and by the way, that’s Mr. Schmuck to you.

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