Thursday, September 20, 2007

Cardinals @ Ravens

In a match-up of 1-1 teams, the Arizona Cardinals visit B-More this week to take on the Ravens. Much like the Ravens last week, the Cards relinquished a big lead but still came out on top, defeating Seattle 23-20 at home on a last second Neil Rackers field goal. Also like the Ravens, it was their second straight tight game of the season, as Week 1 saw them lose 20-17 on a San Francisco TD scored with only 22 seconds remaining.

The injury bug continues to plague the Ravens. While quarterback Steve McNair has said that he plans to start this week, the Ravens will be without defensive end Trevor Pryce, who had surgery to repair a broken wrist suffered in the Jets game and will be out for 3-5 weeks. The loss of Pryce could be a big factor in this one. The key to the game on defense for the Ravens will be getting pressure on 2nd year starter Matt Leinart, who threw for 299 yards and a score last week. The ability of the Ravens front four to create pressure is diminished without Pryce coming off the end. While the B-More coaches have nothing but good things to say about the players filling in for Pryce, Justin Bannan and Dwan Edwards, until they show otherwise, neither is a fully capable replacement for Pryce. If Suggs, Gregg, Ngata, and the Bannan/Edwards combo is unable to get sufficient pressure on Leinart, the Ravens will be forced to blitz more than even they are accustomed to. This won’t make life any easier for the secondary, who will be charged with the task of covering two of the NFL’s premiere wideouts this week in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. We saw last week in the 4th quarter what can happen when this unit starts to have issues. The Jets receivers were running roughshod over the Ravens in the final 15 minutes, and the Cardinals will likely be looking at the film from that 4th quarter for ways to do the same.

The other offensive weapon the Cards feature is running back Edgerrin James, who is 5th in the NFL in rushing through 2 weeks, having racked up 220 yards. The Ravens counter with a defense that is currently 2nd in the league in rushing, having allowed 56 ypg to date. The Nest gives the nod to the purple and black in this department though, so look for the Ravens to try to get the Cards in obvious passing situations by holding James in check. Again, the pressure will be on the secondary to come through.

On the other side of the ball, the Cards are ranked 8th in total defense this year. The Nest sees this as a bit misleading though, as anyone who watched the SF-ARZ game on opening Monday can attest that the 49ers offense couldn’t get out of its own way that night. Matt Hasselbeck threw for 281 yards and the Seahawks averaged 3.9 yards per carry last week in the desert. The resurgence of Derrick Mason so far this season in the Ravens offense, along with the return of a healthy Mark Clayton, bodes well for Steve McNair, who, if he is indeed healthy, should have no problems finding holes in the Cardinal defense. Willis Mcgahee should continue to improve on his first two efforts as a Raven as he becomes more familiar with his offensive line, and will likely find the end zone again this week.

In the end, keep in mind that “these ain’t your father’s (or older brother’s) Cardinals,” and don’t expect the Ravens to blow anyone’s doors off this week. The Ravens are the better team, however, and will come out on top in another B-More nail biter.

Ravens 19 Cardinals 13

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

FREE THE BIRDS 2 – Since this is an Orioles site as well, after all

The first post on the O’s here at the Nest is a call to action for fans. WNST-Sportstalk 1570 is having their 2nd annual “Free the Birds” night on Monday, September 24 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The O’s take on the Royals at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for as little as 9$.

The “Free the Birds” movement is the brainchild of WNST’s owner, “Nasty” Nestor Aparicio. Disgusted with the current state of the Orioles, as the majority of us are, from the treatment of fans by stadium ushers to the play on the field to the public relations department and all the way up to the upper echelons of management and especially, ownership, Nestor started this movement as a way for fans to voice their displeasure. Last year’s rally had an attendance of several thousand and was covered by many local and national media outlets. Those of us that were there spent the first 5 innings cheering as loud as we have in years for the players on the field, chanting “O-R-I-O-L-E-S” regularly, as well as going into several versions of calls for Mr. AngelosE to sell the team. We at the Nest especially enjoyed this one:


At 5:08 pm, as was the plan (honoring two of the greatest Orioles – number 5 Brooks Robinson and number 8 Cal Ripken, Jr.), we all got up from our seats in the left field upper deck and marched down through the concourse of the stadium, all the way around the field, and out at the right field standing room only section. It was a great day, and those of you that were there know that the players appreciated our enthusiasm, as evidenced by Miguel Tejada pointing at us and clapping himself several times from his position at shortstop.

Unfortunately, little has changed in the year since that first rally. The team still STINKS, management still treats the fans like idiots, and the local establishments continue to suffer from lack of business brought on by dismal attendance numbers at the stadium. And so, after initially deciding not to do a 2nd rally this year, Nestor reconsidered. There are no planned walk-outs or anything of that nature this year (at least not yet), just a night at the park for the teams disgruntled fan base to once again show it’s disappointment in the embarrassment the organization has become. It has now been a solid decade of losing for the O’s, and we here at the Nest share Aparicio’s worry that indifference and apathy have replaced anger and resentment in the hearts of far to many fans. That is just unacceptable. If you agree, and share our sentiments that the fans of Baltimore baseball DESERVE better….join us.

Read more here:

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ravens 20 Jets 13 (the THANK GOD THE JETS CAN'T CATCH game)

With Steve McNair on the shelf with a groin injury, it was the much maligned Kyle Boller who led the Ravens to their first victory of the season. Boller had arguably his finest game as a Raven, tossing 2 TD passes while not being sacked nor turning the ball over even once. While the score did not turn out to be as lopsided as we had predicted here at the Nest, there was a point in the game where a 27-6 final score looked to be much MUCH more likely than the numbers that adorned the scoreboard when the last whistle blew. Leading 20-3 entering the 4th quarter, the good guys in purple and black looked well on their way to cruising to a blowout of the J-E-T-S. However, the 4th quarter belonged to New York, as they clawed their way back in it before the B-More defense FINALLY put the clamps on the Jets hopes with just over a minute remaining.

After scoring a TD with 3:12 on the clock, the Ravens were able to recover the Jets attempted onside kick, as Derrick Mason wisely swatted the bouncing ball out of bounds. The Ravens promptly reverted to their old ways though, and went a quick 3-and-out. The Jets then proceeded to march the length of the field, helped by some bad tackling, missed assignments, and bone-headed penalties. Luckily for us Raven fans, however, Justin McCareins twice let balls slip out of his hands; balls that, had he caught, would have undoubtedly put him in the end zone, and put matching 20s on the scoreboard. Also luckily for Raven fans, there was no leftover "Stick-em" to be found on the Jets sideline left over from the filming of "The Replacements" at M&T Bank Stadium 8 years ago, otherwise after the first "whoops!" coach Man-Genius would have slobbed up ol' Justin's hands with the stuff like his name was Clifford Franklin and Mangini was basting John Madden's Thanksgiving Tur-dur-ken.

After getting inside 5 yards of tying the game despite the spate of dropsies, Jets QB Kellen Clemens final pass of the day actually WAS caught, just not by anybody wearing green. Ray Lewis picked Clemens off in the back of the end zone and sealed the victory for Baltimore. For 3 quarters Sunday the Ravens looked dominant, only to let off in the 4th quarter and nearly blow a 17 point lead at home, which would have been disastrous. We have to hope that the real Ravens are the ones we saw in quarters 1-3, and not the 4th quarter version.

We would like to take a second to point out what terrible luck Kyle Boller has. On a day where he plays extremely well, 2 things happen that are completely uncharacteristic of this team, both of which could have robbed Kyle of a well-deserved win. First off, Mr. Automatic Matt Stover misses a very makable 46 yard field goal. 3 points off the board. Then, the Raven's D completely implodes in the waning minutes of the game, letting an inferior team with an inexperienced, battered-all-day-long quarterback nearly erase a 17 point deficit. These are things that don't happen every (Sun)day here in Ravenstown, and it needs to be mentioned here. Because we all know, had the Jets tied the game and forced overtime, and somehow managed to get out of B-More with a win this week, FAR too many of you would find a way to blame Kyle Boller. You know its true. Get off his back. While we are certainly not saying we want to see Kyle in at QB for the next 14 games, Ravens fans can rest a bit easier knowing that if Steve McNair comes down with any more bumps and bruises this season, we have probably the BEST backup quarterback situation in the NFL. And that can never hurt.