As it stands now, the Ravens are in second place in the American Conference of the National Football League. The Colts are at the top of the Conference, and the league, at a great record of 8-0. And while the Colts’ success is no surprise to most of the sports world, not a lot of people had the Ravens at 6-2 after 8 games this season…well, except for me.
As most of you may remember, I predicted that the Ravens would win the Superbowl this year. In one of my many articles on the 2006 NFL Season, I said that the Eagles would play the Ravens in Superbowl XLI. While the Eagles are still a long ways from even looking like playoff contenders, the Ravens have certainly made their presence known in their two games against the Saints and the Bengals.
Against the bolting New Orleans Saints, the Ravens put on quite a show. Despite giving up quite a bit of offense to Marques Colston through the air, the Ravens Defense was clicking on all other cylinders. They were causing turnovers left and right and the run game was not a factor. Reggie Bush was also pretty much taken out of the game, for as Bart Scott let it be known, he “put a little hot sauce on that ankle.” The offense of the Ravens was also clicking against the Saints. Jamal Lewis got his mojo going through the ground game, and Steve McNair did his thing in the air.
Against the Bengals in Week 9, the Ravens looked even better. While the game was much closer, the Ravens defense managed to make a potent Cincinnati offense look rather mundane for the majority of 4 quarters. They put all sorts of pressure on quarterback Carson Palmer, and they took Chad Johnson, a.k.a. “Ocho-Cinco,” out of the game as well. The offense also looked quite outstanding. Jamal Lewis rushing assault, which is becoming a weekly occurrence, was also extremely effective. Basically, the Ravens were clicking on all cylinders against the Bengals and they boys from Cincinnati did not stand much of a chance.
Most of the Ravens’ success can be attributed to the firing of Jim Fassell and Head Coach Bill Billick taking over the offensive play calling duties. With the head coach calling the plays, the Ravens have been scoring a lot more points and are centering the game around the things that McNair does best, which are the intermediate and long passing routes. Billick has also been able to incorporate the running game into his play calling in a much more effective manner by utilizing the strengths of this offensive line and Jamal Lewis’ downhill running forte.
I’ll admit though, before Billick started calling the plays I was a little weary about my Ravens’ Superbowl pick. Early in the season they were not scoring as many points and they certainly were not winning games by a margin, nor in a fashion, that you would like to see a Superbowl contender win games. But they seemed to have turned the corner. Their defense is playing better. And although it has yet to play as well as I thought it would have this season, they are making really big plays which compensates for some of the unexpected yardage totals they have given up this season.
So yes, I’m sticking by my Superbowl pick, because the Ravens are getting better and better as the season progresses. And I am sure that we have yet to see McNair play at his best this season.
Am I tooting my own horn a little bit by making it known that my Superbowl pick is doing well (unlike those who picked teams like Carolina, Pittsburgh, Miami or Dallas)? Yes, I am. But if you think I’m tooting it now, wait until you hear how loud my horn is when Ray Lewis hoists that Lombardi trophy in January.