Hello fellow Sharks! From now right up through Week 17, we’ll be giving our insight as to which games are the ‘games to watch’ each week. This is a heavy burden, as we know a lot of you have Sunday Ticket, too much free time, and an addiction to premium brews like Natty Lite or Yuengling. A lot of you know us from our weekly podcast on this site (the Fantasy PRE-Wind podcast), and our “Sine Lines” sport-toon (every Mon, Wed, Fri), or maybe one of our posts in the Tank. We’re just like you, though. We love a good football game, no matter who’s playing. All times Eastern:
Baltimore @ Cincinnati Sunday 11/8, 1:00pm
Ok, ok, we know what you are thinking, sequels suck. Well, there have certainly been their share that don’t live up to the luster of the original. The ‘Blues Brothers’ was a cinema comedy classic; ‘Blue Brothers 2000’ made us want to gouge our eyes out with a spoon. ‘Highlander’ made every kid want to be a sword-wielding immortal; ‘Highlander II: The Quickening’ tried to make every kid curl up in the fetal position, twitching on the floor from being exposed to one of the worst scripts of all time. ‘Grease’ made relatively unknown cast members stars, while ‘Grease II’ almost killed the careers of anyone involved (how Michelle Pfeiffer escaped that fate is a testament to her sex appeal).
So you might be thinking that after the first meeting between the Ravens and the Bengals ended in a 20-17 Bengals win with just 22 seconds left on the clock, there is no way the sequel can be any good. Let us change your mind…
Everyone expected the Ravens and Steelers to challenge for the AFC North title this year. Whoops, looks like someone forgot to tell the Bengals that they were supposed to quietly sit back at #3. Tied for the division lead, and already having lead Cincy to 3-point wins over BOTH Pittsburgh and Baltimore, QB Carson Palmer (1608yd/13TD/7int) has the Bengals sitting in the cat-bird seat.
He hasn’t done it without help, though – a couple of NFL ‘bad boys’ are proving being bad can be very good. WR Chad Ochocinco (573yd/39rec/5TD) is still a head-case, but he’s channeled his insanity into playing great football again. The Bears thought malcontent RB Cedric Benson (720yd/5TD) wasn’t worth a second thought but he’s shown them and the NFL he can focus his anger on the opposition. Heck, even the Cincinatti D has turned from bad to good, or at least better.
In the top 6 in points allowed this season, the Bengals still give up far too many yards, but have been stopping teams from putting points on the scoreboard. The loss of Antwan Odom was a serious blow. Losing their best pass-rusher on a team ranked 30th against the pass is nothing to smile about. But the Bengals secondary still ranks in the top 5 in team interceptions, keeping things interesting even when teams are throwing well against them.
The Ravens started out hot, with a rejuvenated offense leading them to three quick wins. But some costly timing and letdowns saw them lose their next three games, even if it was only by 11 points in those three losses. But a bounce-back beat-down of previously undefeated Denver has proven the Ravens still have plenty of fight left in them.
QB Joe Flacco (1849yd/12TD/5int) has improved, and with him so has the whole Raven offense. His improved passing has opened things up for the tough RB tandem of Ray Rice (525yd/4TD) and Willis McGahee (201yd/5TD). The Raven receiving corps has seen Flacco spread the ball around, with 5 players topping twenty catches, with aging WR Derrick Mason (421yd/30rec/4TD) leading the team. LB Ray Lewis (60tkl/1sack/1forced fum) may be long in the tooth, but he’s still one of the scariest defenders in the NFL, and even if the Ravens D isn’t quite the powerhouse they once were, they already gave the Bengals one tough fight the first time around, and are poised for revenge.
So the stage is set for a sequel between these two AFC North rivals but don’t expect this to be the ‘Caddyshack II’ of the NFL season. Sequels don’t always HAVE to be bad. The ‘Aliens’ rivaled its predecessor in suspense and topped it in special effects. The ‘Empire Strikes Back’ was a more than worthy sequel to ‘Star Wars’. And ‘The Godfather II’ was every bit as powerful and epic as the original. We expect the same kind of excitement in this sequel between the Ravens and Bengals, and while it might not come down to the final 22 seconds this time, this is still going to be a great ‘Game to Watch’.