NFL Fact or Fiction: Eagles Will Face Ravens in Super Bowl XLVI
Can anyone say this wouldn't be one of the most entertaining Superbowl's in recent memory?
Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles have finally shed the "dream team" persona to the media but that doesn't mean the ideology doesn't live on through the minds of the players.
The Eagles had their early season collapse (yes, a four game losing streak is a devastating collapse) but they're coming off a good win vs. Washington, a rested bye week and it seems the winning dream is becoming less cloudy.
"If you don’t get that time in, and the time is condensed, you’re just trying to play catch-up. We had games, you had to play on the fly . . . It’s no excuse. I think right now we’re starting to gel, we’re getting it together." said Vick.
The Baltimore Ravens are now 4-1 and a top of the AFC North. Their defense led by 16-year veteran Ray Lewis is back to it's dominant form of the early 2000's and is ranked first in the NFL.
With both teams just finishing up their bye weeks, it's perfect time to speculate; what are the chances we could see a Eagles vs. Ravens Superbowl?
Let's take a look at why and why not this is a plausible Superbowl match-up for the 2011-2012 NFL season.
Fiction: Baltimore's Offense Is to Inept
There offense has improved drastically in 2011 and they look way more cohesive than they have in previous years but I still do not see Joe Flacco being capable of Superbowl stardom.
The Ravens rank 12th in both pass and rushing offense which is mediocre and right at the middle of the pact.
Flacco has had games of brilliance and games that were hard to watch (vs. the Jets) and he is still far too inconsistent to be an elite quarterback.
Ray Rice has been solid all year but he has times where he looks lost on the field and his name is not mentioned for quarters at a time.
The offensive line looks better but has still struggled and the brightest spot of the Ravens offense has been rookie wide receiver, Torrey Smith who is making the jump from the college to NFL look easy.
Baltimore's offense is just good, not great and that does not meet the criteria for the Superbowl.
Fiction: Philadelphia's Linebacking Woes
Philadelphia may have put together a "dream team" this offseason but at the expense of their linebacking corps.
The Eagles simply ignored the linebacking position as it was almost not worth their time and have leaned on rookies and second year players who simply are just not NFL ready.
According to Mcall.com, "The base salaries for all six linebackers on the roster combined this year is $3.04 million, or approximately $2.8 million less than they're paying cornerback Asante Samuel and left tackle Jason Peters, who obviously man positions the team simply values exponentially over linebacker".
The linebackers have absolutely killed the Philadelphia defense so far in 2011 and there is not much hope that it will improve in just ten more games.
Think of what Aaron Rodger will do if they were to play the Eagles in the playoffs while facing such a poor group of linebackers...he would have a field day.
Fact: Baltimore's Defense Is the Best in the NFL
The one word for the Baltimore Ravens defense.
Ray Lewis described the defense as dominant from the line, linebacking corps and secondary and he is right.
The Ravens have given up the leagues least amount of points (71) and they also have Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata.
Enough said? I think so.
The Ravens defense will get them to the Superbowl just like it did in 2000.
Fact: Baltimore Ravens Have Ray Lewis
Ray Lewis will go down as one of the greatest linebackers to ever play professional football.
He is a monster who's leadership qualities are infectious through out the Baltimore Raven's locker room.
He is the greatest leader, and most dominating physical presence to be on an NFL football field and he will not stand for losing.
The 16-year-veteran is winding down his hall of fame career and he has not been to the Superbowl since he won it all in 2000.
Ray Lewis is currently the only member of that Superbowl winning team to still be on the Ravens and he will do anything in his power to get his team back to such prominence.
The Ravens currently have the best defense in the NFL and Ray Lewis will lead them to Superbowl 46.
Fact: Philadelphia Will Only Get Stronger
The Eagles are just starting to get good and that is scary.
I know they are only on a one game winning streak but this team is way to good to not win.
Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson are all superstars and that is only on the offensive side of the ball.
Don't forget All-Pro defenders like Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Trent Cole.
The Eagles are absolutely stacked on both sides of the football and they are built to win and to win now.
The team was pretty much entirely new and it took a few weeks longer then it took but this team is about to get hot and they are starting to gel.
Fiction: Andy Reid Chokes in Playoff Games That Matter
Andy Reid can not win big playoff games in Philadelphia.
In five trips to the NFC Championship game (2001-2004, 2008) Reid has one just one of those games, and then went on to lose his first an only Superbowl to the New England patriots.
His time management skills are horrendous and he has always brought solid teams to the playoffs and has yet to come up victorious in the end when it matters.
If there is one coach that I do not trust to win an NFC championship game and propel his team to the Superbowl, its Andy Reid.
Fact: Philadelphia Has Andy Reid
The Eagles have Andy Reid and I know I mentioned that this is a downfall for the Eagles but in the same way it is a plus.
Yes, Andy Reid is a notorious loser in big games but he is still one of the most successful NFL coaches of all times and he has the ability to get the Eagles to the big game.
Reid has never coached such a talented group and yes he has struggled so far this season, but he is coming off a win and everyone knows Andy Reid will turn this team around.
Reid has the ability to get the Eagles to the playoff and beyond but the team will have to win them the big games, the coach can't do anything in that regard.
Fact: Philadelphia's Offense Is Scary
Philly's offense is disgustingly good when everything is going right.
When Michael Vick is accurate, they can not lose.
LeSean McCoy is quickly becoming one of the elite running backs in the NFL and everyone already knows about Vick.
DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant are all huge threats from the wide receiving position and will wreak havoc for any opposing defense.
The linebacking corps may be weak but the offense, when clicking, sure makes up for it.
Fact: Baltimore Has Easy Remaining Schedule
The Ravens have a fairly easy schedule for the remaining of the 2011 NFL season.
In their remaining 11 games, the Ravens get to face the 0-7 Colts, 1-5 Cardinals, 1-5 Jaguars and 2-4 Seahawks. Not only that, but they get to face Colt McCoy and the Cleveland Browns another two times.
Those six games should be no contest for the Ravens which would as of right now give them 10 wins on the year. The remaining games after that are: two against Cincinnati, one against the 5-1 49ers, one against the 4-2 Chargers and a rematch last years AFC divisional playoff game against the 5-2 Pittsburgh Steelers.
If the Ravens can put a beat-down on the Steelers like they did in week one then that would give them 11 wins and I'm confident they can beat Cincinnati twice which will give them 13 wins and probably a first- round-bye in to the NFL playoffs.
Fiction: Can the Ravens Beat the Steelers, Patriots in the Playoffs?
The Ravens have been notorious playoff losers for the last few seasons and its not something Joe Flacco would like to see become a trend for his career.
They've made the playoffs in every one of Flacco's NFL seasons and he has yet to get them over the hump and into the Superbowl.
The Patriots are right now up there with the Ravens as the two top teams in the AFC and Tom Brady is the one quarterback who could potentially beat the Ravens dominant defense.
Every year it also seems like the Ravens are forced to play rival Pittsburgh in the playoffs and have come up short to the Steelers every season.
Can Flacco get over the hump? Can Flacco beat the Steelers in the playoffs?
He may not be there just quite yet.
Will It Happens and Who Wins?
The Ravens have a much better chance of going to Superbowl 46 then the Eagles do.
The Ravens are 4-1 and have a much easier schedule while the Eagles are 2-4 and play in a tough NFC East.
If, and this is a big if, the Eagles and Ravens do face each other in the playoffs then the final score would be:
Ravens 24- Eagles 17