Blog Entry

State of the Union - AFC North

Posted on: October 2, 2009 12:50 pm
I got a few questions, maybe you can help me out.

Before the season started how many of you had the Ravens at 3-0 going into week 4? What about the Bengals at 2-1? The Steelers are 1-2? Cleveland is 0-uh-oh, not this again.

For all the talk in the offseason about who was who and what was what it's hard to believe that week 4 could have a huge impact on the way the AFC North shakes out. If the Ravens go into New England and come out with a win it will be difficult to dismiss their winning ways as simply the benefits of a schedule that started off weak. For the Steelers it could actually be a must win in week 4. Pittsburgh could ill afford to see the Baltimore at 4-0 while they slip to 1-3. In a division where 11 or 12 wins might set the bar being down 3 games after 4 weeks creates a huge mountain. Cincy has positioned themselves to possibly have a 3-1 record after this weekend which would be an excellent catalyst to chase a playoff spot while Cleveland is going through the growing pains of a new regime. THe face each other this weekend with the Bengals looking to build momentum while the Browns are simply looking for a quarterback.

The Ravens came out this season swinging with an offense that seems capable of scoring in any fashion whether it be on the ground with Willia McGahee or through the air with the arm of Joe Flacco. It's hard not to like Flacco's skills and decision making and for offensive coordinator Cam Cameron it looks like another successful transition with an offense that no one seen coming. The surprise for me is the defense. After losing defensive coordinator Rex Ryan to the Jets I was impressed to see the Ravens defense playing the way it has. The secondary seems to found itself slowly over 3 weeks but everything looks to be coming together. Baltimore hasn't been in much of a dogfight so far this season with the only game of any value coming against the Chargers in San Diego but wins are wins. This weekend will be the most difficult test they have had thus far. The Patriots are far from being the shell of a team that some people claim and I look for the Pats to try and match the Ravens physically from the start of the game. Bottom line, if Baltimore comes out of Foxboro with a win then the rest of the North will take notice.

The Bengals were a footnote coming into this season. Although there were a few people around that had the Bengals as a sneaky pick to jump up and steal a playoff spot I would have to say that they were in the minority. Marvin Lewis has the defense playing with fire under their feet dialing up pressure and getting to the quarterback often. The secondary is playing up to it's potential making it difficult for the opposition to keep a balanced attack. Carson Palmer has still got it and the ground game has been resurrected with Cedric Benson eating up yardage. What does all this add up to? The Bengals have the potential to make a big impact on the postseason. We already know what the offense can do, with a defense Cincy's ceiling might not exist.

The Steelers are world champions, but if you didn't watch last season you might not know it. The running game? Non-existent. The passing game? Effective yet somehow ineffective. The defense? Great for 3 quarters, then fading to end the game. Pittsburgh's offensive line might not be the weakest link after all. In pass protection they have played very well and the Steelers have not pushed the ground game enough for me to know if the line has improved in that regard. Ben Roethlisberger has played well but if Pittsburgh is going to throw constantly he will need to take the next step, meaning he needs to get better reads at the line and make the changes that work. Santonio Holmes might have been the Superbowl MVP but his hands have been unreliable so far. As for the defense I see some things that make me nervous but it's still early in the season. William Gay plays soft in coverage and drives me insane with his lack of focus but maybe it's growing pains. I can't wait for the return of Troy.

The Browns just can't get it going on offense so Brady Quinn was yanked and replaced by Derek Anderson who quickly threw 3 interceptions prompting Cleveland fans to move to Baltimore. Ok, maybe not but if you're a member of the dawgpound you have to be getting that creeping feeling up your spine that tells you Cleveland made a mistake with Eric Mangini. Browns' fans need only to look at the Jets and see what Rex Ryan is doing with Mangini's old team. I would like to point out some positives, maybe James Davis if he was healthy? There's just not a lot there. I won't point out the negatives, I have carpal tunnel.

When you look at the importance of this weekend I think most Steelers fans downplay it but the reality is a loss this weekend would firmly put this team behind the 8ball. 1-3 at the end of the first quarter of the season means you can only have 3 or 4 losses the rest of the way to have a legit shot at the postseason giving you a 12-4 or 11-5 record. If the Ravens end up beating the Patriots a 4-0 start gives you the possibility of losing 4 or 5 games over the next 12 and still making the playoffs. With the Jets playing remarkably well, the Patriots always dangerous, the Colts forever in the mix and the a division winner in the West how many spots will be left open?

In my opinion the effects of this weekend's games will be felt the rest of the season.
Category: NFL

Since: Oct 3, 2009
Posted on: October 3, 2009 9:13 pm

State of the Union - AFC North

This has been an interesting thread. However, why do Steeler fans keep saying that they lost to Chicago because of two missed field goals...  AND never admit that they would be 0-3 if the Titans hadn't missed  two (easy) field goals?   Just asking.

Since: Oct 2, 2009
Posted on: October 3, 2009 8:54 pm

State of the Union - AFC North

Here's what happened to the Ravens, all these years it's been all defense. Ray Lewis and Co. knew that, they expected it and cherished it because they knew there seasons and how they fared was going to be put on them and how they performed. Well a couple of years ago before Steve McNair and God bless him, the defense was getting burned out by shouldering all the load that's why they went, I believe 9-7. Well Steve put a little bit of juice in their fire and they got rejuvenated again because they felt like if they kept doing what they do best, Steve being Steve the Ravens knew the window was still open. After all that has happened and now Joe Flacco, the biggest surprise QB in the NFL opened that window a little wider. Now probably have the best Baltimore Ravens team in history.Is this the year the Super Bowl participant is going to go through the Ravens. The Steelers, they're going to be the Steelers and this will be their down year. But it's just this year only. Their defense is having issues, their offense can't seem to get that extra oomph, but don't worry it won't last. The Browns, ha ha ha , since 1999 how many times have they overturned their roster, they had 10 long years to get it right or at least satisfactory, but they need to do another overhaul and start with the GM and go all the way down to the kicker. The Browns are one of the few teams everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon with but we can't because we don't know what to expect. Are they going to be the high scoring no defense team they was or a team that will match the Lions record of 0-?. The Bengals, hmmm.... who are they and where did they come from, jumping out of the gate the way did. Is it Carson Palmer, Marvin Lewis, Chad "Johnson" Ochocinco. No, it's th guy that got cut from Da Bears Cedric Benson, of all people. He's leading that team the way Rudi Johnson did if not better. Watch out for the Bengals this year they might have something here. But all in all the AFC North is going to finish the its starting, Ravens in     &nb
1st, Steelers in 2nd, a close 3rd from the Bengals, and Browns last.

Since: Mar 13, 2008
Posted on: October 3, 2009 5:35 pm

State of the Union - AFC North

Right on target Ironman!

The Steelers do need to win this week against the Chargers. The AFC North will be tough with the Ravens and resurgent Bengals. And Cincy already has a win over the Steelers.

Pittsubrgh's problems include poor run blocking, tipping their plays with obvious run formations, poor kicking by Jeff Reed, and the loss of Troy Polamalu, which contributes to the defense's inability to make a stop in the 4th quarter.

Can these problems be corrected? Sure.

But this appears to be at least some part Super Bowl hangover where guys forgot the focus, determination and work it took to win it all last season. Rashard Mendenhall has already been benched one week for lack of preparation. Limas Sweed has fallen out of favor with Mike Tomlin for dropping the ball. Reed has had back-to-back weeks of missing a game-winning kick (or more).

Fortunately, San Diego is banged up too. They get LaDanian Tomlinson back, but are still missing starting linemen and Shawne Merriman has not returned to form yet.

Big game that could signal where the Steelers go the rest of the way.

Since: Apr 17, 2007
Posted on: October 3, 2009 4:28 pm

State of the Union - AFC North

overall, pretty good analysis.  i'm a born and bred steelers fan and have to admit, they are making me nervous so far.  as one guy said, they are kind of known for lingering until the playoffs only to turn it on.  baltimore has been the team to beat so far and cincy has shown vast improvement over the last couple of years and cleveland.....well......  anyhow, back to the NFL teams:)  we really need this game against the chargers. i really don't want to see them dig that hole for themselves because it would be very difficult to get back out of. it just brings back memories of '06 without the excuses of ben's offfield issues. bottom line...we need to start playing like the team we are, and stop taking our foot off the gas after we have the lead until the defense figures out what the hell is going on.  it saddens me to see how we have forgotten  how to sit on a lead!!

Since: Sep 6, 2006
Posted on: October 3, 2009 11:15 am

State of the Union - AFC North

As a Raven fan, I can't help but think when will this offense come back down to earth?  But the truth is, they've been coring 30+ points every week every since the end of last season.  If you watch Joe Flacco, you can tell he's the real deal.  He goes through his progressions, doesn't get rattled in the pocket, and seems to consistently find the open receiver; 7 players have at least 6 receptions.  The running game was always there.  But the straw that stirs the drink is the O-line.  They simply keep people off of Flacco and the RBs.  If the defense can continue to hold up their end of the bargain, and if special teams can play solid, the Ravens can be scary good.  It's ridiculou to shrug off the Ravens 3-0 start because of the schedule, they played in the AFC Championship game last year.  This year, they got better.

Since: Oct 23, 2006
Posted on: October 3, 2009 9:17 am

State of the Union - AFC North

im a steeltown fan and i 2 have faith the steelers will get it together.they lost to chicago because of two missed field goals that jeff reed never misses,and limus sweed dropped the t.d. he had against the bengals that would have given us enough to beat the bengals.then we are 3-0 also.this is a game of inches and sometimes you cant let a couple inches predict a season.NO WORRIES GO P BURGH!!!!!KING B

Since: Jan 3, 2007
Posted on: October 3, 2009 6:15 am

State of the Union - AFC North

I am a huge Ravens fan and have learned over the years to never count the Steelers out. The have had slow starts before only to get it going and then roll right to the playoffs...

Since: Nov 8, 2008
Posted on: October 3, 2009 12:46 am

State of the Union - AFC North

You are correct sir, with all the mismatches this weekend it seems irrelevant enough but the Steelers game, Ravens game, and Jets game are HUGE to all parties involved and I love it. Gotta say I wouldn't mind seeing your D rough up Darren Sproles this weekend I still have hard feelings for the running he did on the Colts in the playoffs in OT, no major injuries wished upon him just some hard hits. All eyes are on Brett Farve for monday night but I'm not sure how much significants that game really holds besides revenge served cold from Brett or maybe Aaron Rodgers will live up to his talent and make the Packers look brilliant. Either way those other 3 games could influence the playoffs greatly and thats the story I wanna see play out. Seems like the Madden curse and the Super hangover become more real every year huh?

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