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Byrne Identity: It's Time To Shut Up And Play


It's Time To Shut Up And Play

I got a little irritated on Tuesday morning. Tuned in to ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike" show to hear some perspective about the first week of the NFL regular season.

There was Mike Greenberg: "I can't fall in love with anything about the Ravens."


He then added that he believes the Ravens will finish 6-10 this season.

Put some salt in that wound.

Mike Golic didn't quite chime in, but added that he thought the Ravens would be 7-9, saying "I'm having a tough time figuring out that team."

It doesn't really matter what the preseason prognosticators say, does it? But, it does get our juices flowing. Like most of you, the Ravens love when people say we can't do something, and then we go about proving them wrong.

Who's Right, Who's Wrong?

So, what are some of these football experts predicting for the 2014 Ravens? You can find as many claiming a playoff Ravens team as those who say otherwise. Most point out that the AFC North is a tough, competitive division. And, we agree with that.

Sports Illustrated reporters, which includes Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback (MMQB) group, have some firsthand knowledge. Most of SI's experts have visited our Under Armour Performance Center and watched us practice. Four of the six reporters picked the Ravens to win the AFC North. Writing for the SI magazine, Andy Benoit boldly claims "the Ravens will go 11-5."

MMQB's Jenny Vrentas selected Baltimore and wrote: "An improved 2014 roster could position this team for another deep postseason run. … The most important addition could be Gary Kubiak, who has been entrusted to get the running game back on track and help quarterback Joe Flacco take the next step to development."'s Don Banks, who twice watched us practice in recent months, wrote this about the offense: "Under Kubiak, Baltimore's offense will exhibit both balance and tenacity, with Joe Flacco returning to form and the Ravens winning the AFC North." Another writer, Chris Burke, predicted 10-6 and the AFC North crown "if Baltimore's run game is really back on track."

One group that has me a little baffled is the set of voices from the snarky ProFootballTalk (PFT). While PFT has us ranked as the NFL's seventh-best team in its preseason ranking – third in the AFC – only two of the site's six reporters were willing to predict a playoff spot for the purple and black. PFT founder Mike Florio, who also covers the NFL for NBC-TV, said this: "These are the Ravens, guided by a superb front office and excellent coaching staff. With some important additions, especially on offense, they'll be poised to get back to the postseason. When they do, the Ravens will have the physicality to succeed against the best the NFC has to offer." trotted out 11 reporters to preview the NFL season, and five of those predicted the Ravens would still be playing in December. Only two of those, Adam Schein and former Redskins General Manager Charley Casserly, picked us as division champ, while three others – including Brian Billick – have us entering the postseason as a wild card. (Coach Billick did attend our practice at M&T Bank Stadium in the last week of July.)

Sirius Radio's Pat Kirwan, the former head of personnel for the Jets, has an enlightened eye. He visited all four of the AFC North team training camps and watched practices at each. "The Ravens' camp stop was quite similar to the Steelers. They're both 8-8 teams last year that expect to go deep in the playoffs every year. The Ravens will squeeze at least one more victory because of Steve Smith," Kirwan said. "The 2013 draft class of Matt Elam, Brandon Williams, Kyle Juszczyk and Ricky Wagner are all coming into their own, and that equates to a second win. … The Ravens are heading back to the playoffs."

The main guys at FOX Sports, Peter Schrager and Alex Marvez, also like us to get back to the playoffs, but both claim we will do so as a wild card, falling short of division winner Cincy. (Schrager, by the way, was the first reporter to pick us to win the Super Bowl two years ago.)

Six of the eight USA Today reporters have us in the playoffs with four predicting a division championship for the Ravens.

Super Bowl Winners

My favorite prediction comes from's Joe Platania, who has seen every Ravens practice this offseason. Joe forecasts an AFC North title with an 11-5 mark and then has us beating the Colts in the AFC Championship, followed by a Super Bowl victory over the Packers. Nice!

And how about ESPN's "Swami" – also known as Chris Berman. He picks us to return to the Super Bowl to face the Seahawks. Berman, by the way, did pick us to win Super Bowl XLVII, and we did.. (Berman uses a studied approach. He can get anyone in the NFL on the phone, and his research includes calls to elite coaches and personnel executives. So, besides Chris, there must be some league honchos out there who believe the Ravens will be pretty good.)


But it doesn't really matter what anyone says right now. It's time for the real deal. Put up and shut up. How we play will determine how good we are. However, let's have fun with it. Make predictions, defend your team, watch the games. You guys come to the Ravens for relief, to get away from the pressures of everyday life. It doesn't mean we don't care about ISIS, Ferguson, or security with the iCloud. We come to sports for fun, release and the competition … and preseason prognostications. Have at it!

Weather Experts

We all worry about the weather here. We call Dick Cass, our team president, our chief meteorologist. He always knows the weather for game day. He's a weather savant. But, it appears Dick may lose his influence as the go-to "weather guy."

After Tuesday's practice, John Harbaugh said, "Good practice today. That heat and humidity is helping us get ready for Sunday."

"What's the forecast for Sunday?" I asked.

"Owen [Daniels] says it's too early to make that call." That made me laugh out loud. "Seriously," Harbs continued, "Owen is a meteorologist, and he said we'll know about rain in a couple of days."

Indeed, Owen is a meteorologist, and he'll be doing some forecasting for WBAL-TV.

Dick, sorry, you just lost one of your titles.

Rain or shine – and the forecast looks good for Sunday – let's start the season with a win over the Bengals. Beat Cincy!

Talk with you next week,


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