So the Ravens are in and have a first round bye. Great news for Ravens fans.
Time to think about the various back stories to their potential AFC rivals the rest of the way.
Indianapolis Colts – How it would happen – If the Colts beat Kansas City this week then they will be in Baltimore the following week (Jan 13th or 14th) for the Division game. What it would mean – The only thing that could be bigger for Baltimore football fans would be to meet the Colts for a chance at the Super Bowl. That can’t happen this year. Still Baltimore fans haven’t forgotten how the Colts left town. Defeating the Colts to advance to the AFC Championship game would be huge.
New England Patriots – How it would happen – If the Patriots and Chiefs both win their respective wild card games, then by virtue of their higher seed, the Patriots would face the second seeded Ravens in Baltimore on Jan 13th or 14th. Or if both Indianapolis and New England win the wild card games, and New England and Baltimore win their respective division games, then New England would come to Baltimore for the AFC Championship game on Jan 21st. What it would mean -What Indianapolis (and the NFL) did to Baltimore, Baltimore did to Cleveland. And the final coach of the original Cleveland Browns was Bill Bellichick, current coach of the Patriots. The final year of the Browns in Cleveland wasn’t good and Bellichick was fired after the season. Might the Ravens history have been even better if Art Modell had stuck with Bellichick?
Two other notes: Given the proximity of the Browns move to Baltimore with the expansion to Charlotte and Jacksonville makes me wonder if Modell had a hand in nixing Baltimore’s chance for expansion in order to get Baltimore for himself. The late Alf Lerner, a friend of Modell’s was picked to head Baltimore’s expansion effort. However the two fell out after the expansion was decided. Did Lerner take his own bid seriously and suspect that Modell undercut him?
Bill Bellichick, himself, has a couple of back stories in the playoffs. First of all, this week he’s facing his former assistatn Eric Mangini, who is now the coach of the Jets who his Patriots are facing this week for the AFC wild card game. And if New England and Dallas make it all the way to the Super Bowl, Bellichick will face his former boss, Bill Parcells if Dallas makes it all the way.
New York (Jersey) Jets – How it could happen – If both underdogs win the wild card game, then the Ravens would play the Jets Jan 13th or 14th. Or if the Jets and Colts both win and then the Ravens and Jets win the division games, the Jets would fly to Baltimore for the AFC championship on Jan 21st. What it would mean Before there was just the NFL with two conferences there was the NFL and the upstart AFL. The NFL was considered superior, so when Jets quarterback Joe Namath guaranteed a victory for his team over the Baltimore Colts in Superbowl III he was widely mocked. However he needn’t have worried. Broadway Joe made good and the Jets upset the Colts 16 – 7. Derailing the Jets this year would probably remove some of the salt from that very old wound.
Trivia: When the NFL and AFL merged into the NFL, only two of the original NFL teams went to the NFC, which teams are they? What else do they have in common? (see UPDATE below)
San Diego Chargers – How it could happen – If both favored teams win throughout the playoffs, Baltimore play in San Diego in the AFC title game. What it would mean Not a lot of history here. However Colts great Johnny Unitas ended his career in exile in San Diego.
Kansas City Chiefs – How it could happen – Chiefs would have to beat Indianapolis and then San Diego to play for the Super Bowl in the Conference championship Jan 21st in Baltimore. What it would mean – Not much history here either. Current Chiefs’ (injured) running back Priest Holmes used to be a Raven. Both teams were quarterbacked by former 49′er QB Elvis Grbac.
Superbowl back stories for the Ravens
Chicago Bears – Buddy Ryan made a name for himself designing the Chicago Bears’ defense in the mid 1980′s that led to their Super Bowl crown in 1986. Now his son Rex is making a name for himself as defensive coach of the Baltimore Ravens.
New Orleans Saints – This is pretty slim. Jim Mora (whose son was just fired as coach of the Atlanta Falcons) was coach in New Orleans and of the USFL’s Baltimore Stars.
Dallas Cowboys – The Baltimore Colts recovered from their loss to the Jets and defeated the Cowboys two years later in Superbowl V with a thrilling sudden death field goal.
New York (Jersey) Giants – pre-Superbowl, the Colts beat the Giants in what was called the greatest game ever played. And the Ravens beat them six years ago in the Super Bowl 34 – 7. Buddy Ryan’s ex nemesis Kevin Gilbride just got bumped up to the offensive coach for the Giants and Jim Fassell who had coached the Giants six years ago moved to Baltimore as coach, until Brian Billick fired him earlier this year.
Philadelphia Eagles – A few years ago TO forced a trade to the Eagles instead of the Ravens. Looks like the Ravens won that round. Former Eagles great, Randall Cunningham ended his career in Baltimore in 2001.
UPDATE: The assumption of my trivia question was mistaken. There were 3 teams that joined the AFC from the NFL, the Baltimore Colts, the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The answer that I was lookng for was that the Colts and Browns have since moved to new cities. Thanks to monoblogue for the correction and who noted that Johnny Unitas was originally signed by the Steelers before he came to the Colts.
Crossposted on Soccer Dad.
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