It's a fun time to be a Ravens fan. The record stands at 6-3, the offense is humming, the defense is pounding, and the coaching staff is brilliant. Boy, that's some delicious Kool-Aid.
But folks, all those statements are only Kool-Aid until they can be proven. Yes, the offense has been very good recently, but this offense has had to face the likes of the Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, and Houston Texans the past three weeks. The Texans were without their starting quarterback and their leading tackler, the Browns are a team quitting on themselves, and the Oakland Raiders are the Oakland Raiders. The Ravens have beaten up on these inferior opponents and kudos to them for doing that; previous Ravens teams might have taken these foes for granted. Regardless, it is very easy to feel that your quarterback has turned the corner and your running game has found its stride when playing teams such as these. What the Ravens need now is a top-tier opponent, both offensively and defensively, to guage where they really are.
Enter, the Giants. They are the top team in the NFL not named the Tennessee Titans and will be hosting the Ravens this coming Sunday at 1 pm. This is the perfect opportunity for the Ravens to establish their place in the top of the AFC. The AFC is weakened this year and that second spot behind the Titans is open for the taking, especially given Roethlesberger's health. The Ravens are in the fortunate position of having no expectations coming into this season, and thus very little pressure is on them to win this football game. A loss means that the Ravens are not quite ready for prime time but are probably getting there. A win means that the Ravens have arrived.
A good number of people have been criticizing ESPN and other sports outlets for not talking about the Ravens enough. Trust me, the Ravens have been talked about enough given their position and who they've beaten. The last thing some sportswriter wants to do is to anoint another upstart team too early (Buffalo Bills). If the Ravens pull this one out, there will be enough chatter to go around.
Just remember, Ravens fans, to get excited but to not lose perspective. The Ravens are underdogs in this game for a reason; the Giants have championship pedigree and this young Ravens team is still fighting to conceal some significant holes in its roster. The Kool-Aid sure is delicious, but if you don't watch out it can make you sick.