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John J. Raspanti
The Eagles overcame four Michael Vick interceptions to squeeze past the Browns last week 17-16. Vick threw the game winning touchdown with 1:18 to play, after Browns rookie linebacker L.J. Fort let the ball and game slip through his hands.
"Oh, man," said Vick after the game. "I gotta get out of Cleveland."
Vick completed 29 of 56 passes for 317 yards. His four INTs tied a career high. Vick was injured in the preseason. Coach Andy Reid said his quarterback looked rusty. Rusty or not, Vick did come through at the end of the game - even if he did need some help. The Raven defense won't be as charitable. Running back LeSean McCoy averaged over six yards a carry against the Browns. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin hauled in a team leading seven catches for 96 yards. DeSean Jackson averaged almost 20 yards per catch.
The Ravens pounded the Cincinnati Bengals 44-13 on Monday night. The victory has many believing that Baltimore is the class of the AFC. Quarterback (and perennial whipping boy) Joe Flacco was superb against the Bengals completing 21 of 29 passes for 299 yards and two scores. The Ravens new up-tempo offensive moved the ball at will. Running back Ray Rice dashed for 68 yards on only 10 carries. Tight end Dennis Pitta had five catches for 73 yards. Wideout Anquan Boldin scored on a 34-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
The Eagle defense was led by Mychal Kendricks five tackles. Defensive end Jason Babin and Fletcher Cox each had a sack. The squad harassed quarterback Brandon Weeden all four quarters. The rookie ended up completing only 12 of his passes -- with four of them ending up in the hands of the Eagles.
The Raven defense was stout all night against the Bengals. Even without reigning Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs (out for six weeks with an Achilles tendon injury) the unit made some good stops. Ageless wonder Ray Lewis led the team with 14 tackles. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata recorded two sacks.
The Eagles were lucky to escape with a victory last week. The Ravens needed no luck in their game with the Bengals. The Eagle offensive line has to give Michael Vick some time. If not the Raven front four (including Lewis) will be frothing at the mouth. Can the Ravens and Joe Flacco play well for the second week in a row?
It was interesting to note the number of one sided games last week. Seems like the last few years in the NFL, just about every game would come down to the last 5 minutes. Yet we saw what, 6 blowouts? Five by 20 points or more? It will be interesting to see if that trend continues. Or of the parity returns.
As far as this game, you have to be careful not to overreact to one week in the NFL. Perhaps Baltimore is the class of the AFC and perhaps the Eagles are in for a long year. That would be the conclusion you'd have to come to after last weeks games. Take a look at the betting percentages at sportsbook.ag and you'll see that's exactly the way the betting public feels as they have been betting on Baltimore like they already know the final score with 97% of the bets taken on this game being on the Ravens. Also note that at many books, despite the lopsided betting, the line actually moved the other way, in favor of the Eagles. A good indication that those playing the Eagles early, carry a little more weight than the masses. Eagles -2.5
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