You never wish injury on anyone, but for a Baltimore Ravens team that is struggling mightily three weeks into the NFL season, they will take any help they can get right now.
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The Ravens aren’t playing good football right now. They are 0-3 for the first time in franchise history and are lacking an identity. They don’t have the look of the Ravens’ teams of the past that were built around defense and the running game. They let a division rival come on their turf and get a win at a time they could not afford it. There is reason to panic.
Relax, Ravens fans. The blessing in disguise is the situation coming out of Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee on Sunday and is expected to miss four to six weeks. An MRI revealed that Roethlisberger did not tear his ACL in the process, the original fear when Ben went down, which was the best scenario for the Steelers. For the Ravens, anything that could help them out is terrific right now.
The idea of heading to Pittsburgh on a short week looked daunting just a few days ago. Prior to the injury, the Steelers were a 3-point favorite. Now, the Ravens will enter Thursday night’s game as a 2.5-point favorite, according to Westgate SuperBook.
The myth is that road teams generally have not fared well in Thursday night match ups is actually not the disadvantage that people have made of it. Since the NFL expanded to a full season of Thursday Night Football for the 2012 season, road teams are 20-25, a winning percentage of 44 percent. The accumulative percentage for home teams during the regular season over that same time span is 41 percent. Basically, it’s no different than any other game. The home team has the advantage.
Except this game is different for both teams. The Ravens are 0-3 and in a serious bind. They have struggled on both sides of the ball. They have questions throughout the roster. What they don’t have to worry about is a quarterback trying to get a playbook down in just a few days.
Michael Vick signed a one-year deal with the Steelers on Aug. 25 after the team placed Bruce Gradkowski on injured reserve. Vick has been with the team for exactly a month and will be thrusted into the action with just a few days of preparation. The Ravens know how the Steelers’ tendencies which gives them an upper hand. What is difficult to game plan for his Vick’s legs. Even at the age of 35, Vick is still one of the fastest players in the league. Vick completed five of six passes for 38 yards in over a quarter of work following Roethlisberger’s injury, but said after the game their is room for improvement.
So while the Ravens are 0-3, they find themselves in a situation to succeed. Vick is no slouch, but he is a backup quarterback in a new system with just days to get it all down. A win on Thursday would be monumental with a long layoff before they take on the Cleveland Browns in Week 5. It hasn’t been pretty through three weeks, but Baltimore can get back to 2-3 and in the thick of things if everything plays out right.
It is getting repetitive to say that the Ravens need a win, but they cannot accomplish any of their preseason goals without getting that first win. Back-to-back wins over the next two weeks would go a long way to turn the worst start in franchise history into another playoff run.
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