Something jumped out at me that I never considered before. This involves more than just this Sunday’s game.
The Ravens have never won at an NFC North’s stadium. They have a 0-7 record in such games. Seeing this peculiar stat reminded me of some of the more embarrassing losses I’ve seen in my NFL watching lifetime:
There was that awful loss in Detroit back in 2005 in which the Ravens were 1 penalty away from tying the record for most penalties on a team in a game. One of the most frustrating experiences ever, to see flags come after almost every snap, which in turn angered our players and drew even more penalties (and two ejections)! Don’t worry though, the Ravens got their revenge in 2009.
Also, you can’t forget that heartbreaking loss in Minnesota 4 years ago, which led to Hauschka being let go after he missed a field goal for the win. The Ravens had fought all the way back to take the lead, were down 2 points with 2 seconds left, and Hauschka EASILY misses wide a 44 yard field goal. He had cost us some games earlier that season, but that was the last straw and led to the signing of Billy Cundiff.
Also, the Ravens are currently 0-2 in Chicago, but are 2-1 in the last three matchups, last one being the 31-7 beating in which Flacco had 4 TDs and no INTs. In that game, the Ravens also gave Jay Cutler a career worst passer rating. This Sunday, Cutler can’t play so Josh McCown gets the start.
McCown is a 34 year old quarterback with a career full of inadequacy. Josh has played for 7 NFL teams and 1 UFL team. His younger brother, Luke, isn’t any better and has followed a similar career path, where he has played for 6 NFL teams. They’re an odd set of football brothers, where both have become career backups and Josh has been in the league for 11 seasons (9 for Luke). Still, neither have obtained much more than second string status.
For some strange reason, Josh has been traded for and signed many times and shows promise in the handful of games he plays in, but rarely enough to win. His stays on teams have been as long as 3+ years and as low as 17 days. He hasn’t been a regular starter in a season since 2004!
Judging by an article I saw earlier this week involving this game, Josh has only won games against other backup quarterbacks. The only exception is on win against Jay Cutler, who he coincidentally backing up now.
So for all the quirky records that the Ravens have encountered and defeated (for good and bad), this winless record at NFC North teams is quite a weird one. Nevertheless, the Ravens should still approach the Bears with caution (as one must do against real bears, of course).
For one, the Ravens’ special teams, while not as bad as the previous few years, is still kind of bad. So facing a Bears team who for years gets their wins by weird lucky plays, they should expect (and plan for) the unexpected. Much of their past success in that department comes from their infamous punt/kick returner Devin Hester. The Ravens need to plan for any of his trickery and speed.
While the Bears’ defense is lacking in many categories, plus with injuries affecting it, who’s to say the defense will in fact let the Ravens run all over it? That defense is currently 31st in run defense and has been allowing a lot of success to running backs lately. Then again, they need to shore up their defense and what better way of gaining confidence than stopping Ray Rice & Bernard Pierce? Our guys are also thinking of gaining confidence by hoping to have a big running day over the Bears.
This is a big game for both teams. For the Ravens, they need to keep pace in the AFC North after taking care of the Bengals last week. If the Browns beat the Bengals on Sunday, the Ravens would like to join the crowded race for the division title which will be much tighter.
For the Bears, they realize that with Rodgers out for the Packers indefinitely, they can up their standing in their division. With Cutler out, they realize that they have to try to stay competitive and not let the Lions run away with the division. What was once a three way tie atop the division two weeks ago could turn into a 2+ game lead for the Lions after Sunday.
It all comes down to who wants it more. Best of luck to the Ravens in Chicago (1:00pm CBS) – bring us back a W!