Tuesday, November 13, 2007

We've Flown the Nest...for a Better One!!!

and running!

The Nest will be moving to our new home at bmorebirdsnest.com. Everything you love about the Nest will be making the trip with us - previews, recaps, news, polls, all of it. In addition, we are now also able to offer new content - first up are our Podcasts, featuring the hilarious in-game banter of the "Nick-a-What & D-Baby Show!" Please check us out at the new Nest!

Don't forget to reset your bookmarks!

Ravens #5 on SI's Fan Value Experience - Meter

After being named Best Tailgate City earlier this season in an independent study (http://bmorebirdsnest.blogspot.com/2007/09/b-more-tailgate-capital-of-us.html), B-More has again garnered praise, this time from Sports Illustrated. SI last week released their list of the best cities for what they describe as "Fan Value Experience." Baltimore came in at #5, which is obviously something to be proud of; however, that was only good for 3rd out of the AFC North teams, as Sh*tsburgh and Cleveland were #2 and #3, disrespectfully. Teams/Cities were scored in several areas, including tickets, food & souvenirs, accessibility, tailgating, team, stadium atmosphere, and neighborhood.

See it here:
B-More's scores:

Tickets: 6/10
Food & Souvenirs: 6/10
Accessibility: 6/10
Tailgating: 8/10
Team: 5/10
Stadium Atmosphere: 9/10
Neighborhood: 8/10
Bottom Line: 48/70

Causing us to lose a few points here and there were things like overpriced concessions, poor traffic control by B-More Police, and drunk, belligerent fans. They give us credit for being loud and rowdy in helping our team, but chastise us for being too quick to boo our own guys, while too mean-spirited towards the other teams and their fans. Hey - we think the considerable chip on our collective B-More shoulder is more than warranted given what we've had to endure, what with losing our team (and their colors) to another city, then having to fight, scratch, and claw to even have a team to call our own again. So if they play like crap (lately, much?) we're going to let them hear it. Likewise, if you come into our house and root against our purple-and-black, well you'd better be able to deal with what we're dishing out.

On a related note, much has been made this week regarding the emptying-out of M&T last Sunday before the game was over. The Nest knows that we B-More fans are the best in the NFL. As such, we feel we deserve better than we have been seeing on the field this season. That being said, that semi walk-out was surely an anomaly, and we expect the Raven faithful to be out in full force ready to do all we can to help our team beat the Browns this week. The team needs to play better, obviously. Let's continue to give them our full support and not give anyone any reason to think we have fallen from our perch atop the list of the NFL's best fans.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bengals 21 Ravens 7 (The WORST OFFENSE IN ALL THE LAND game)

Just when we thought it couldn't get any worse.....it did.

The four quarters the Ravens played yesterday at M&T Bank Stadium against the Cincinnati Bengals could have just as easily been quarters 5-8 at Heinz field in a continuation of last Monday's stomping at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens managed, yet again, to turn the ball over 6 times, 3 by quarterback Steve McNair. "Error" McNair (the people have spoken) was every bit as dreadful in the nice weather and friendly confines of B-More as he was in the hostile, rainy territory last week. In what could very well have been the final start of his career, "Error":

1. threw an interception from the Bengals' 2-yard line in the waning moments of the first half with the chance to put the Ravens on top;

2. fumbled while trying to scramble for a first down, on a play that further convinced us that he completely forgets there are other players on the field (on either team) once he leaves the pocket, at which point he carries the ball like a loaf of bread; and

3. had another of his patented "phantom-fumbles" where the air seemingly strips the ball from his grasp as he prepares to throw.

McNair's 2 fumbles led directly to 2 Shayne Graham field goals, while his interception was the difference between going into halftime leading by a point (or, at the worst, trailing by 3) and entering the break scoreless and trailing 6-0.

Steve McNair is a shell of his former self, and even after all his defiance earlier in the week, sounded like a beaten man sitting at his locker last night. He basically resigned himself to serving as Kyle Boller's backup moving forward, saying, "This is probably the lowest point of my career I've ever had, these last two games. What do I need to do about it? What is the answer? I don't know. I'm playing hard, doing all I can to help this team, but it's just not there." Against a team that had been allowing 30.5 points per game, Steve McNair's offense was shut out for the entirety of his 50 minutes in the game. Don't be surprised to hear that Kyle Boller will get the start against Cleveland next week.

Boller, who relieved McNair with 10 minutes to go, made some throws against Cincinnati's soft prevent defense, and was at least able to get the Ravens on the board. However, he also reminded us why he is not the answer, as he threw an ill-advised pass in triple coverage resulting in an interception in the end zone. Some Ravens fans out there are currently deluding themselves into thinking Boller will be the savior of this team. If this is you, we ask that you only look back to the scoreboard scorching goose-egg the Boller-led Ravens put up in the first half in Buffalo 3 weeks ago for your much-needed splash of cold water to the face. Say it with us: Boller is not the answer. That being said, Kyle obviously gives the Ravens a better chance to win than McNair at this point, and at the very least the games will be more exciting to watch.

The bigger problem (yes, bigger than a QB who is apparently allergic to the ball), remains the questionable coaching of Brian Billick. Inexplicably, Compu-Coach again went pass-happy, despite running back Willis McGahee gashing the Bengal defense for chunks of yardage with seemingly every touch. On the Ravens' second possession of the game, the play sequence was:

Run, Run resulting in a 1st down, Run, Pass, Pass, Pass resulting in a 1st down, Pass, Run, Run, Pass - turnover on downs

5 Runs, 5 Passes - seems like a balanced attack, but we would argue that there is NO NEED for balance when you have a quarterback who is showing definite signs of rust, injury, age, etc., and are able to move the ball on the ground at will, which the Ravens were. McGahee had 54 yards on 11 carries in the first half, nearly 5 yards per carry, and yet, trailing by less than a touchdown, the Ravens came out in the second half with the following play sequence:

Run, Pass, Pass, Pass, Run, Pass, Pass (fumbled)

On their second possession of the 2nd half, trailing 9-0:

Pass, Run, Pass, Punt

This kind of head-scratch-inducing play calling is obviously nothing new to us Ravens fans (see the RUN THE DAMN BALL I & II games), but that doesn't make it any less painful to watch, especially when it results in losses. Throughout his tenure in B-More, Coach Billick's inadequacies as far as Xs-and-Os go have been masked by the big-play ability of the vaunted purple-and-black defense. However, when the defense falters, whether it be by allowing touchdowns instead of field goals (as we saw last week) or by not coming up with turnovers to put the offense in good field position (as we saw yesterday), the team has not fared well. Relying on the defense to bail them out has been the Ravens' M.O. for 9 years, but we fear the well has run dry this season. Injuries, age, and personnel losses have all taken a toll, and the D, while still one of the unquestioned best in the NFL, may not be able to shoulder the entire load as we have become accustomed to. There will be no mentions of the P-word moving forward, as any hopes of Arizona this year are nothing but a pipe dream. The focus now needs to be on taking whatever steps necessary to fix what ails the offense, so as to leave the embarrassments of the past two games in the past. The Ravens' have become a laughing stock quickly, due to nothing more than their inability to put points on the board in a league where the rules are designed to produce big scores. They are humiliating themselves as well as their fans with their ineptitude, and something has to give. What that something will be, we are as interested to see as the rest of you.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Bengals @ Ravens

The Cincinnati Bengals (2-6) visit B-More this week to take on the Ravens (4-4). At the beginning of the season, this looked to be a battle for first in the AFC North. Instead, it is a fight to stay out of the basement. The Ravens are coming off their worst loss of the Brian Billick era, and desperately need a win to have any chance of a 2nd half resurgence. The Bengals, a popular preseason pick to win the division, are playing like the Bungles of old, and desperately need a win to keep coach Marvin Lewis' head off the chopping block for at least another week.

The Ravens, for whatever reason, always seem to bring out the best in the Bengals. They have the purple-and-black's number, having won 4 of the last 5 meetings. The Ravens secondary, even when healthy, always has trouble containing the Bengals star wide receivers, Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Ocho Cinco suffered what looked to be a serious neck/spine injury last Sunday against Buffalo, but practiced on Wednesday, and seems likely to play. The Bengals also get certified bungle-hole Chris Henry back from his 8 game suspension just in time to bring him along to M&T. A complete Cincinnati receiving corps is bad news for Ravens fans, as the Ravens will again be shorthanded in the secondary. Samari Rolle's mystery illness has resurfaced to sideline him for the second straight week, and Chris McAlister is said to be a game-time decision with his knee injury. If Rolle and McAlister are both out, and Johnson is in....well, we shudder to think.
On offense (if you want to call it that), the Ravens have a chance to get on the right track this week against one of the worst defenses in the NFL. The Ravens would be well advised to make certain that Willis McGahee touches the ball no less than 25-30 times against a unit giving up 143 yards per game on the ground. The Bengals are equally atrocious defending the pass, allowing over 250 aerial yards per contest, but the sight of Steve McNair dropping back to fumble...er...pass is not something we hope to see more than 20-25 times Sunday. Speaking of McNair, he has staunchly defended himself this week (why not, nobody seems to have trouble defending him these days) and stated that he his still capable of performing at a high level. Coach Billick stands behind him, and as early as the post-game conference in Pittsburgh had named McNair the unquestioned starter. If he plays anything like he did against the Steelers in the first half Sunday, though, don't be surprised to see Billick go to the well and put Kyle Boller in. Even though it is probably "six one way, half dozen the other" with Boller and McNair, at least with Kyle the defense has to at least THINK that the Ravens could - maybe, possibly, if the stars align correctly and a butterfly flaps its wings in Africa and the tide is coming in - throw the ball more than 10 yards.

Hopefully Palmer won't "eat up" the Ravens' tasty secondary

The Bengals should not, and likely will not, even bother trying to run the ball Sunday. They will come out throwing, attack the Ravens reeling secondary, and they WILL put points on the board. Make no mistake about it, Carson Palmer knows how to beat this defense, and without Rolle and/or McAlister, it will be easy pickin's for him. The game will come down to whether or not the Ravens are able to run their methodical, ball-control game, keep the Bengals' O off the field, and get 6 points instead of 3 when they have the opportunity. In a match-up between evenly matched (yes, the Ravens are, unfortunately, evenly matched with a 2-6 team) teams, we give the advantage to the Ravens, simply because they always play much better at home.

Ravens 24 Bengals 21

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Steelers 38 Ravens 7 (The PAYBACKS ARE A ..... Game)

There were plenty of things we could have called this one. The "Monday Night Massacre" would have fit nicely, as would the "Prime Time Pounding," the "Three River Ripping," or the "Steel City Shitty Bed." Maybe even more fitting than all of those would be the "Wow, the Ravens really stink" game. In the end, though, our hated rivals got their revenge on the purple and black, atoning for last year's 31-7 and 27-0 Ravens wins with a 38-7 smack down of their own. The payback couldn't have worked out any better for the Steelers, who were able to completely embarrass the Ravens on national television, pulling the rug out from under them and sending B-More's already shaky "playoff contender" house of cards crashing to the rain-soaked earth.

The night started innocently enough, as the Ravens forced Pittsburgh to punt on their first possession, then managed to convert a 3rd-and-6 for what would end up being their only first down of the 1st half, and one of just five on the night. However, 3 plays later, after initially eluding blitzing LB James Harrison, Steve McNair seemed to completely forget Harrison was there, dropping the ball to throw it right as Harrison caught back up and sacked him, forcing McNair into his league leading 5th lost fumble. As a result, the Steelers started their drive at the B-More 20. The Ravens bottled up Willie Parker on consecutive runs to set up a 3rd-and-7, which was where the night really turned downhill quickly. Trevor Pryce busted through the Pissburgh line, and had Baby Ben Toothlessburger all wrapped up for what should have forced a long field goal attempt in windy, rainy conditions. Instead, Pryce was unable to secure the quarterback, surely due in part to the cast he was wearing on his surgically repaired wrist, and Frankenburger's overgrown, corn-fed, motorcycle crashing a** was able to skip free, run outside the pocket, and find tight end Heath Miller in the back of the end zone for the touchdown. It was a scene that played over and over last night, with the Ravens forcing the Steelers into passing situations, pressuring the quarterback, but then being unable to seal the deal and watching as another Steelers receiver ran completely free through the inexperienced and overmatched secondary. Five times in the first 29 minutes of playing time the Steelers were able to find the end zone through the air. Only a 33 yard touchdown scamper from Willis McGahee saved what likely would have been a Steel Town shutout, making the score 35-7 at the half.

Has anyone else noticed that Hines Ward looks like a middle-aged Korean woman these days? Or is it just us? Hit someone else while they're not looking, big man.

Hines Ward: Happy to hit you when you're not looking

In this week's poll, the Nest is asking you all to help us choose a new nickname for Steve McNair. Its all in fun, but unfortunately the reality is that for the Ravens to have any chance at all this season, his name is going to have to be something along the lines of "Former Ravens Starting Quarterback" Steve McNair. "Error" McNair was absolutely atrocious again last night. If he or the team has decided to try to hide some injury that he has, it needs to stop. If this is Steve healthy, he needs to retire, like yesterday. It is obvious that his body cannot do the things that he has come to expect, and he looks tired, old, and washed up. At one point in last night's game, he managed to underthrow a zero yard pass! The Ravens longest completion of the night was NINE yards! And, to put a big fat bow on the gift of futility McNair has bestowed upon Ravens nation, Steve set an NFL record for the fewest passing yards (63) in a game by a quarterback in which he has at least 13 completions.

For the game:
13 of 22 for 63 yards, one interception, and two fumbles (one lost).
For the season:
116 of 179 for 985 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT, 5 lost fumbles

Brian Billick has stated that Steve McNair remains his starting quarterback, an assertion that should give Ravens fans night terrors. The Coach needs to take a long, hard look at himself and his team moving forward, as the Ravens have now laid their second straight absolute turd in a big game coming off a bye week (Last year vs. IND being the previous). We do not claim to know the answers, and we will certainly stick by our team through this rough patch. There is no denying, however, that something needs to change, and fast.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Last Minute Monday Night Updates

Some late breaking news on tonight's match-up in Pittsburgh, all of it bad for the Ravens:

1. Samari Rolle is out yet again with another recurrence of his "undisclosed illness." Rolle, who earned the nickname "Sorry Rolle" from some Ravens fans in 2006 due to his dismal play, has given us motivation to coin his 2007 moniker, "SARSi Rolle."

2. Chris McAlister will not play, as the severe knee sprain he suffered against St. Louis is not 100%.

3. Although he has practiced, Todd Heap is being called a "game-time decision," with a still sore hamstring.

4. The Ravens' most dangerous offensive weapon, K Matt Stover has evidently suffered a thigh bruise to his kicking leg, and did not practice Saturday night.

5. Finally, the latest weather report for tonight in Squealtown is mid-40's and rainy, with 15 mph winds. While conventional wisdom says the poor conditions could help neutralize the Steelers' big advantage in the passing game, we Ravens fans know that our purple and black, much like rapper Missy Elliott, "Can't Stand the Rain." Look no further than last year's losses in Denver and Cincinnati, if you need a reminder.

There you have it, a "Perfect Storm" of bad news for the Ravens. We won't back down from our previously predicted 20-17 win, but the Guru Crew certainly has their work cut out for them.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Ravens @ Steelers - Part 2: Prediction

We hope you enjoyed digesting yesterday's preview, where the hate flew like Bill Cowher spittle. Today, its time to get down to it, and predict the score. First off, the Ravens are 9-point underdogs in this game. If betting were legal (which it is NOT), the Nest would bet the farm on this one. You have to go back to December 2004 to find a game in this series which Pittsburgh won convincingly, when they beat the Ravens 20-7. If the Ravens lose, it will certainly not be by 10 points.
We fully expect the Ravens to be able to shut down Willie Parker - perhaps not as convincingly as they did last season, but effectively nonetheless. If they can hold him to ~70 yards, we are not convinced that Ben can carry the team with his arm. While his passer rating is gaudy this year, he still makes mistakes - as evidenced by his red zone interception last week in Cincy. Look for the Ravens' secondary to capitalize on his stupidity, get some picks, and set the O up with good field position. The offense, in turn, will capitalize just enough to win this one. A late score by Pittsburgh will make the game appear closer than it really was.
Ravens 20 Steelers 17