The Philadelphia Eagles made everyone react the same way against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 9. Every Eagles fan like myself echoed that if the Birds faced anyone other than the Browns, they would have lost instead of stealing a 17-16 win. When Philadelphia faces a real team, things will get more difficult - and unfortunately, a real team is coming to town as soon as next week.
The Baltimore Ravens further proved that they are a real team, and could be a pretty dominant one this season. They were certainly dominant against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 10, as the Ravens turned a close game into a 44-13 slaughter in the span of a half.
It was already surprising enough that the Ravens got 17 points in the first half, which isn't always within Joe Flacco's reach. But the real fireworks started when Baltimore racked up 27 unanswered points in the second, turning the Bengals from last year's playoff team into the 'Bungals' of old.
The Ravens have been hamstrung by their offense for years, yet it actually wasn't the reason they lost last year's AFC title game to the New England Patriots. Since Flacco actually outperformed Tom Brady in that game, the big question was whether he would ride that momentum further, or take another step back after Baltimore gave a Super Bowl berth away. Yet in the 2012 opener, Flacco certainly looked elite along with the Ravens as a whole.
This is what a real team that can perform on both sides of the field looks like. This is what an actual Super Bowl contender looks like as well, as the Ravens look to take the next step after years of disappoint. And unfortunately, this is the Eagles' next opponent as well.
Although Baltimore is coming to Philadelphia on Sept. 16, the club that blew out Cincinnati looks capable of doing the same anywhere. While the Browns and Brandon Weeden gave things away to the Eagles at every turn - even more than the Eagles gave everything away - the Ravens will not be that generous.
Barely beating the Browns was enough of a reality check for the Eagles, yet getting manhandled by the Ravens would be even more deflating. A closer loss would be more encouraging, but if both Philadelphia and Baltimore play like they did in Week 1, their showdown won't be too close for long.
The Eagles couldn't possibly play like they did in Cleveland every week, while the Ravens couldn't possibly be as dominant as they were against the Bengals every week. Yet Philadelphia is going to have to hope that things change very quickly - since nothing it saw from Baltimore on Sept. 10 had to provide much hope.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Eagles since he was eight years old.
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