<
>

Bigger surprise? It's the Ravens

10/3/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Everyone remembers the Titans, Paul Kuharsky.

They were a 10-win, playoff team from a year ago.

Therefore, why this rumor is being spread about Tennessee being a "surprise" team is beyond me.

But we will not stand for that in the AFC North's version of the Blog Network. That's taking too much credit away from the real surprise team on Tennessee's opposing sideline this weekend:

Enter the Baltimore Ravens.

Most experts didn't expect much from this rejuvenated bunch after firing its head coach in the offseason, having major questions at quarterback, and winning just five games in 2007. (Yes, Paul, Baltimore won half as many games as Tennessee did last year. That would qualify as a "surprise" team.)

The Titans have beaten four opponents with a combined three victories among them. They are merely doing what's expected. Tennessee is winning with a veteran head coach and a veteran quarterback.

Where is the big shocker here?

Meanwhile, the Ravens are making NFL history.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Baltimore first-year signal-caller Joe Flacco became just the third rookie quarterback since 1970 to win its team's first two games of the season. Along with first-year head coach John Harbaugh, it's the first time since the AFL/NFL merger that a rookie coach and rookie quarterback combined to go 2-0.

Flacco surprisingly won the starting job with the Ravens through injury (Kyle Boller) and illness (Troy Smith). Yet he's one scoring drive away in overtime from beating the Pittsburgh Steelers and being 3-0.

Kerry Collins is a cute little story in Tennessee, Paul, but he's been to a Super Bowl before. Let's not pretend he's doing something completely out of the blue.

By the way, have people in Nashville checked with Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian recently? He doesn't seem all that surprised by Tennessee's fast start.

Neither should anyone else.

We remember the Titans because the Titans never left. There's no rebound effect going on in Tennessee. But Baltimore, on the other hand, is pulling itself up from last year's cellar of the AFC North to suddenly become a threat and a contender in 2008.