By Stan "The Fan" Charles
The oddsmakers don't give the Ravens much of a chance to win Jan. 12 in Denver. There's still a game to be played on the field, where anything can happen, but, clearly, an opening number of -9 1/2 points makes you think the trip out to the Rockies is almost pointless.
I guarantee this: The 53 Ravens players, plus coaches and staff, do not feel that way. That's why teams still make the flights for these pointless exercises. Speaking of which, although the Ravens could be sleepless in Seattle, they cannot be pointless in Denver.
More than likely, the Joe Flacco-led offense must score 30-plus points. To reach that number, the Ravens will have to cash in when given the chance to do so. While the Ravens ended up with 24 points against the Colts, two times they failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities.
The first occurred when Ray Rice had the first of his two fumbles, which turned the ball over. The second was when the Ravens had the ball inside the red zone, but had to settle for a field goal after a couple of poor tosses, notably one to Tandon Doss.
The Baltimore defense will not shut down Denver quarterback Peyton Manning. More than likely, the defense will play well enough to give the Ravens a chance to win, which will put this game firmly in the hands of Flacco and the offense -- the same offense that is now scripted by offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, not Cam Cameron.
Let's not forget, that 34-17 Ravens loss to the Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium a month ago came at the outset of the Caldwell era.
Moving over to the nation's capital, I can say I am a fan of neither Redskins owner Dan Snyder nor head coach Mike Shanahan. I'll take this opportunity to once again point out how little Shanahan, a two-time Super Bowl-winning coach, has accomplished without John Elway as his quarterback.
But watching Robert Griffin III play quarterback for Shanahan's Redskins all season was a joy to behold. The rookie signal caller has a future that could even give Shanahan a chance to appear deep into postseason play. But it won't be this year, as the Redskins couldn't hold onto a 14-0 lead during the first quarter of their Jan. 6 game against the Seattle Seahawks.
It became obvious by the end of the first half that Griffin would not be able to help his team to victory. The entire Fox studio crew -- Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Jimmy Johnson and Michael Strahan -- chimed in that his knee injury was, for now, making him a one-dimensional player. That is the same knee Griffin injured when the Ravens' Haloti Ngata plopped on it five weeks ago down at FedEx Field.
Strangely, even as Griffin's play began to deteriorate and he seemed more hobbled than at any other time against Seattle, Shanahan opted to stick with him. Shanahan opted to play Griffin when he was maybe 50 or 60 percent healthy rather than entrust the offense to Kirk Cousins, another rookie who had shown promise.
Just one play before Griffin had a critical fumbled snap, the lead Fox analyst, Troy Aikman, said the strangest thing: "Nobody is really questioning whether he should be removed from the game."
Shanahan's decision to ride Griffin was, at the same time, desperate and irresponsible. The hope is that Dr. James Andrews, who received more face time during the second half of this game than ever before, will be able to help Griffin fully recover.
Posted Jan. 7, 2013