You know what makes for a great debate? One that involves 2 teams that both debaters agree aren’t playing very good football right now. A debate that devolves into “well maybe the D is terrible, but so is their O”…those are the debates that make the world go round…
At least that’s the hope here at the Friday Debate. Based out of American Airlines Admirals Club at O’hare airport, the Friday debate features the musing of Dan and Josh…2 guys you wouldn’t want to get stuck with at a bar, cause well, you wouldn’t get a word in edgewise…
But enough about all that, let the great Bengals-Ravens debate begin!!
This game is one of those games where both teams are playing their worst football of he season right now...and possibly of the recent history of these 2 teams...it's actually physically painful to watch them play right now...except for 3 things...
Watching the Bengals passing game is always fun...besides the Ocho Cinco Show...there is also TJ Who'syourdaddy...and they're never out of a game with Palmer's arm.
Love watching Ray Lewis play...even as he moves towards the end of his career...he's one of those players that's just fun to watch.
Ditto with Mr. Ed Reed. The guy is always around the ball...and it's just fun to watch him pull off the big play.
If it weren't for those 3 things, this game would be unwatchable. Let's face it, they've already been compared to GI Joe guys missing their jocks...what more can be said? Well, it's the Friday debate, so I'll have to come up with more than that.
There are 3 things that struck me during the Monday Night game...
The Ravens were talking smacking and playing hard all night...yeah this is a big rivalry game...but you gotta admire that in a team...they aren't giving up. They played hard all night.
Steve McNair is done. It's sad to say that, cause I've always liked this guy. Great guy, great player, gritty competitor...just a special guy. But his body has taken a nasty beating over the years, and it's finally given out on him.
Brian Billick has no cojones. Or he has no faith in McNair's arm...but you're down by 28+ and you're not throwing downfield at all? Not once? And then he brings in Kyle Boller the human interception machine...and that's when he throws downfield...so either McNair shouldn't be the QB, or Billick needs to do some soul searching.
Now, against just about any other team in the league, I'l picking against the Bengals. But this matchup is perfect for them. I'll lay it out in terms even Dan could understand...
The Ravens CBs are hurt the pass is there all day...the one thing the Bengals do well is throw the ball.
The porous Bengals D will not be challenged by a horrible Ravens offense...it would take a miracle of biblical proportions for the Ravens Offense to score more than 14 points.
What do I mean by biblical?
Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria.
"I'll lay it out in terms even Dan could understand..." - You know, man, that would hurt if I knew what the word "terms" meant.
Here's the difference between the Ravens and Bengals right now (other than two wins). I'll let the players speak for themselves.
"It's not the end of the world, it's not the time to panic" - Steve McNair
"We're just not a very good football team" - Carson Palmer
"It ain't hard to correct what's wrong." - Ray Lewis
"You're 2-6, nobody cares. You're losing, nobody cares. It's all for nothing." - T.J. Houshmandzadeh
"We've still got the second half of the season to go. We can still finish this thing up at 12-4." - Derrick Mason
"I'm embarrassed about the way I've played in games and the way I've put us in the position that we're in right now." - Palmer again
The Bengals sound like a bunch of defeatists, the Ravens sound like they're ready to turn this thing around. And the fact of the matter is, the Ravens are at .500, which is good enough to lead two different NFL divisions. The Bengals are at .250. And you bring up the Ravens' banged-up corners, which will certainly be a factor... but what about Cincy's linebackers? They've had to move Robert Geathers, easily the MVP of the season opener, back to OLB, and drastically simplify the pressure packages they've sent out. And the QB pressure caused the turnovers that were the only reason Cincinnati won game 1.
Besides, having the Ravens' backups at CB is about as good as having the Bengals' starters. And you're right, McNair's arm is shot and he won't be able to take advantage. But Boller will take over by halftime, and he'll do just enough to outscore the points Cincy scores on a few huge plays.
But back to the quotes, this game will depend a lot on heart, and the Bengals sound completely disheartened.
What's great? I gave you ammo for your "this game is about heart" argument...and you either missed it...or you're going to kick me in the jimmy later with it...
But here's the point I want to make about the "playing with heart"...cause I saw the same thing against the Steelers...
They were playing hard all night...and they still looked bad. That's what sort of scared me about them...there is something wrong with this team. Maybe it's Billick finally wearing thin on them...maybe they're just a little old...but I saw a team playing their hearts out, and not having anything in the tank.
Now granted, the Bengals are not the Steelers. We don't have to debate that at all...
But while the Ravens are saying the right thing, I'm not convinced it matters...
You can call a soup ladle an umbrella all you want...but it doesn't change the fact that it's just a soup ladle...the imagination is great...
But in the end, actions speak louder than any words...and the Ravens team that was on the field against the Steelers...was giving it all...and they got spanked.
The problem right now? The phrase "painted into a corner" comes to mind...only one way out...
When my brother and I drove from Chicago to Seattle, we kept track of all the roadkill we saw. It was amazing how many dead animals you see when driving across country. The more amazing thing? You can tell where you are in the country by what animals you see along the side of the road.
The Midwest it was mostly possum and raccoons.
The plains had a lot of deer.
The when you hit Wyoming...every few miles there was a dead Coyote.
It got to the point that we had to come up with an explanation for why there were so many dead Coyotes. A normal person would say "There are actually Coyote in Wyoming"...but that was too normal for our brains.
Nope, we came up with the theory of Ninja Buffaloes. These Buffaloes attack innocent Coyotes in the dead of the night, putting right what once went wrong...wait...I've heard that before...um...yeah...let's just go with that.
With each passing Coyote carcass, the legend of the Ninja Buffaloes grew...each time a new detail added to the story...finally, they weren't even dead Coyotes, they were "Buffalo victims". We told the story enough, that we started to believe it.
When we arrived in Seattle, and started repeating the story to friends and family...laughing profusely when we did...we got a lot of weird looks, and comments like "ah, that's nice." The legend was lost on these people....or was something else at play?
The legend wasn't lost....it only existed in our minds...and no matter how many times we explained it to people, or how hard we laughed...it didn't make it reality. It's the same with the Ravens...they are saying the right things, and that's great...but no matter how many times they say it, it doesn't really matter...cause it's only words. Luckily for us, Ninja Buffaloes don't exist and football is played on the field.
But if you're out alone at night on a dark highway....and you hear a Coyote's howl get stifled suddenly...you'll know what happened...you've been warned...
Well yeah, a coyote's going to lose to a car every time. But the Ravens aren't playing against cars this week--these coyotes are going against tricycles.
Another name we haven't brought up yet is Willis McGahee. I'm not a big fan of the guy, and he sort of comes and goes, but as long as the Ravens don't fall behind early, he'll get the ball plenty, sustain some drives, and get points on the board. The fact is, he's a good runner, and the more important fact is, the Bengals D isn't good enough to stop him.
The problem here is that you're thinking of the Bengals like you've grown accustomed to over the years; the passing game that can outshoot anybody. But they've had to settle for field goals a lot more than usual lately, if they even make it to the goal line. They've only broken 21 points once since week 2. Chad and Carson aren't in sync, and Henry's just getting back from a suspension - you think he and Palmer can go back to clicking that easily? The Bengals are down to just a few offensive weapons, and Rex Ryan can handle that.
We had a swing set at my house, with a plastic rope swing (the rope itself was plastic, as well as the seat) that I used to perform various acrobatic feats on. One day, I came home from college, was in some kind of hyperactive mood, and decided to do one of my trademark moves. I took a running leap at the swing, grabbed the rope, and attempted to stand up on the seat of the swing. But I didn't get that far, because the instant I made contact with the rope, I cried out in pain. The rope had gotten brittle, and filled my hands with a bunch of little plastic mini-splinters.
The Bengals are that swing - if you assume they are what they used to be, you're going to be severely disappointed.
Hold on a second...I'm still laughing at the image of you shrieking in pain as you grab the swing....man...this might be awhile....
Okay, okay, I'm better now. You know the saying, "One man's pain is another man's 30 minues laughing fit"? Well, maybe not, it's not a very common expression...yeah...so...I just made it up...man, Dan you're such a frickin' buzzkill. Fine! I'll talk about football again....
And you missed the whole point of my ancedote...the Coyotes weren't losing to cars...they were getting killed by Ninja Buffalo...you didn't read it did you...that's it Dan, I'm just going to sit here silently until you apologize....
Okay, you called my bluff; I can't sit silently at all.
Wait, you bring up "settling for field goals" and you're talking about the Bengals? Um...the perfect way to describe the Ravens offense this year is "Stover-riffic"! They are the poster child for settling for FGs. In fact, they should change the team logo from that cool raven to a interlaced FG. But then, their offense has alway been that way...it's just that their D isn't up to it's regular level of excellence, so the lack of a scoring punch gets exposed more.
The Ravens are averaging 16.4 points a game...
The Bengals are averaging 24.8...
Let me explain some basic math, 24 is greater than 16.
And let me touch on a secondary topic here...
Yes, the Bengals defense is horrible...the words have escaped me many times in describing this unit...but here's the beauty of this matchup with McGahee...
All they have to do, is focus all their energy on stopping him, cause McNair/Boller aren't going to beat anyone.
And, the problem hasn't been McGahee...he's had a good season...it's that their O-line has looked terrible, and because of their terrible passing attack you can stack 8 men in the box, and just clamp down on the run. For all the grief I give Marvin Lewis for his coaching skills...even he should be able to figure that all out, and put a simple defensive plan in place.
So who cares if the Bengals haven't scored more than 21 in awhile...they won't need to score more than that to win this game.
Oh man, I just got another flash of you jumping on that swing...I gotta go before the full laughing fit starts...
Yup, that's me, I just rush to the end of a blog and start making comments willy-nilly.
Yes, the Ravens have been Stover-riffic, but here's the difference: the Bengals get demoralized when they score a field goal, because they should have gotten 7. The Ravens get energized because all points are good points.
And don't give me that "averaging X points per game" nonsense. The Bengals are giving up an average of 30.5 points per game, the Ravens are giving up 19.6. Not only is 30 bigger than 19, but 30 minus 19 is bigger than your 24 minus 16. So the difference between the defenses is greater than the difference between the offenses.
And it might take more than 21 to beat the Ravens this week--guess who's back after being injured in week 4? Todd Heap. The three complete games he played in were the only times Baltimore scored over 20 and weren't playing a team named after sheep.
Imagine you're hungry, and you go downstairs, and realize there's not much in the fridge. You've got this chicken parmesan that would really hit the spot, but you're out of pasta and you need some kind of side dish. All that's in the fridge are some refried beans and a takeout container of shrimp fried rice.
That's right, like the Bengals, you have matchup problems. Dexter Jackson and Madieu Williams might be the least effective starting safety combo in the league. They're so depleted at linebacker that they had to move a D-lineman back. The return of Heap means the return of an effective short passing game, which will free up McGahee a little bit. And Boller has been throwing to Heap for years.
Also Jonathan Ogden is completely gone from the injury report now, and after having to handle the Steeler defense last week, taking care of the Bengals will be a breeze. It's like holding a newborn baby after you've been picking up eight-year-olds all day. It's so easy you don't even feel any weight, and you have to double-check and make sure you haven't dropped the baby.
Except in this case, Ogden will have dropped a Bengal or two.
Wait, why in god's name are you picking up 8-year-olds? That is sick man, sick. (Yes, I know what you meant...)
The Bengals defensive...let's call them limitations...are very clear to me. I'm not debating them at all.
And I'm not going to debate the fact that it is high comedy that anyone thought this Bengals team was a contender prior to the start of the season.
But here's the thing that keeps gnawing at my insides...like a tape worm...
The Ravens still thing they are in the hunt for the playoffs...while the Bengals have nothing to lose...
And these 2 teams...they don't like each other.
Maybe it's all the Chicken Parm-shrimp fried rice-refried beans casserole I've been eating lately, but the image of the Bengals stickin' one to the Ravens keeps dancing through my head. And I'm someone that loves to pull for the underdog...that loves those games that come out of no where and confound us...and this is just one of those games in my mind.
But then again, maybe it's just my deep seeded hate of all things purple...or the fact that Brian Billick reminds me of my freshman gym teacher...or that I still consider the Ravens the "Team Moddell stole"...who knows...
Do you have any more refried beans at your place? I think I'm out...and there's this whole other chicken breast to eat....
Wait, why in god's name are you eating a chicken's breast? That is sick, man, sick.
So you're pulling the "I don't know, man, I just have a feeling?" Weak sauce. I'm disappointed.
See, I have animosity towards the Bengals right now, because I watched the first game of the season, and saw them playing physically on defense, terrorizing Steve McNair into three fumbles and a pick, and that got me talking about how they were more of a complete team and all that crap. And they've made me look a fool.
And I don't understand how thinking you're still in the hunt is a bad thing; I suppose you're suggesting that if things start going badly it'll be frustrating for the Ravens, whereas the Bengals will shrug it off because the season is history anyway. But that theory only works if things start going badly for the Ravens, which they won't. 'Cuz I said so.
Also, don't be surprised to see Bengals officials keeping a close eye on Rex Ryan. No, they won't be stealing signals; they're scouting a new ex-Ravens-defensive-coordinator to hire as head coach. You heard it here...well, probably first, but I can't say that for certain...but you definitely heard it here. Or read it. Yeah, 'cuz unless you have one of those programs that reads texts aloud to you on your computer, you didn't hear it.
I have some refried beans but they've been open for a while... probably won't help your tapeworm situation.
And there you have it…instead of going out with a bang…we went for the “Huh? What just happened…is that guy a bad guy? No, but he can’t walk right…wait…what? He’s the devil? I’m lost…” sort of endings. What do you expect?
Man, I hope the delivery man gets here soon with my shrimp fried rice…this Chicken parm is getting cold.