Ravens will definitely beat Falcons — maybe

November 10, 2010|Kevin Cowherd

I tried to pick the winner of tonight's big Ravens- Atlanta Falcons game and my fat little fingers seemed to hover over the keyboard forever.

I thought about Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan's 17-1 home record versus Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco being the NFL's hottest passer (11 TDs and one interception) since Week 3.

I thought about how strong the Atlanta pass rush has been (16 sacks) versus how balanced the Ravens offense is.

I thought about how loud it gets in the Georgia Dome — think a Saturn V rocket at lift-off — versus the Ravens' love of playing in hostile environments

Finally all 10 beefy fingers landed on the keyboard with a thud and I wrote: Ravens 24, Falcons 21. And you can take that to the bank.

In fact, if the Ravens lose, I will jump in my car the next day and personally hand-deliver a $20 bill to every one of you who takes gas in your office pool. (Note to editors: Please run the usual legal disclaimer that gets me out of that. Thanks.)

By the way, not long after their charter touched down in Atlanta Wednesday, the Ravens also received good news concerning Spitgate and Tintgate, their recent twin mini-controversies.

The good news about Spitgate: the league won't be fining fullback Le'Ron McClain after all.

McClain, you'll recall, was accused of spitting on Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder during the Ravens' 26-10 win last Sunday.

If you look at the video — and I've studied it the way detectives study the tape of a convenience store robbery — it sure looks like McClain did the dirty deed.

No, there's no frame-by-frame look at a stream of spittle frozen in mid-air.

But you watch McClain's confrontation with Crowder grow more heated and then — BOOM! — McClain's head suddenly jerks forward.

And at that point, you can bet he's not saying: "Well, Mr. Crowder, I beg to differ."

But the league announced Wednesday that "there is no conclusive video evidence to support discipline in this matter."

Oh, you gotta love it.

What would the NFL do without its beloved "conclusive video evidence"?

Maybe that should be the league's new motto: "If we don't have it on film, it didn't happen."

Although there was such an uproar over the alleged spitting incident that, you watch: the next time two players get in a tussle, the league will make sure they capture it from five different camera angles, like a disputed sideline catch.

As for Tintgate, well, that seems to have blown over, too.

To recap: Tintgate started when Ravens running back Ray Rice was pulled over by a cop Monday evening for having tinted windows on his Range Rover that were too dark.

Rice posted on Twitter that the cop let him off with a warning.

But his tweet made it seem like he might've gotten preferential treatment: "Just got pulled over for my tints smh (shaking my head). But gave the officer an autograph for his son and he let me go."

Rice said Tuesday that he had mis-tweeted — is that even a word? — and that the cop had already given him the warning when the running back offered him an autograph for his son.

I know, I know . . . even the sports scandals in this town are small-time, aren't they?

Getting back to tonight's big game, the oddsmakers have the Falcons as a 1 1/2–point favorite. And it could really be that close.

Me, I think the Ravens are doing exactly what they have to do at this point of the season to make a deep run in the playoffs: they're getting better with every game.

Their offense has never been more balanced. Flacco has never seemed more confident.

Get this stat: The Ravens are one of only four teams to have a 1,900-yard passer (Flacco), a 600-yard rusher (Rice) and a 500-yard receiver (Anquan Boldin.)

And with Ed Reed back at safety, the defense has been solidified and seems capable of making big plays again.

A quick note on that: If Reed looks to lateral the ball while running back a pick — as he appeared to do against Miami — someone on the Ravens needs to flatten the guy before he can do it.

Or else I'll be knocking on a lot of doors the next day.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

(Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with Jerry Coleman on Fox 1370 AM Sports.)

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