This has been an odd year in the NFL and the Ravens are no exception. The oddness started even before the Ravens played a single game. First, this was going to be the first year that Ray Lewis wouldn’t be on a Baltimore Ravens official roster. Second, we were going to see how it felt to be the reigning champion, a feeling that wasn’t felt for over a decade in this city. Finally, it was odd that for the first time that I can remember I was more excited about playing the Bengals than the Steelers. All the pundits were saying all summer that Cincinnati would emerge as the new favorite in the division and that Pittsburgh would falter off a bit. I found it hard to be true but as we stand here in Week 10 it’s all too true.
So here it is; the first matchup between the Bengals and Ravens. As it should, this game is going to have a pretty heavy impact on this division. Currently, Baltimore is just two games behind Cincinnati in the loss column and that means that if Baltimore won the rest of their games they would tie the Bengals and hold the tiebreaker for head-to-head. Now that probably won’t be the case but it starts with one game. If Baltimore can find a way to win at home, a place where they find great success, a place they have only played at three times this year and hold a 2-1 record; then just like that, they will be back in this division race.
The flip side is that if the Bengals come into M&T Bank on Sunday and prove they are the better team, then that would bury Baltimore even further and make it close to impossible to rise back up in the division and probably even the wild-card. A Cincinnati win would solidify their position that they are among one of the elite in the AFC. A Cincinnati win would make this doubter into a believer.
By no means is this game the be-all-end-all. Baltimore still has seven to go, with the final game in Cincinnati and anything can and will take place between now and then.
All you can ask for is hope. Another week to believe, that as a fan, your NFL season isn’t over. Will we still watch the games if they fall to 3-6? Heck, even 3-10? I’d like to think we would. I’d like to think we would bash them a bit but still support. We don’t want to be in that position though. We want hope.
A Baltimore win on Sunday would go a long way to restoring that hope.