Friday, December 20, 2013

Quoth the experts, "Nevermore"

"Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore" - Edgar Allen Poe 

In the classic Edgar Allen Poe poem The Raven, the main character grieves for Lenore, a symbol that could mean just about anyone or anything, though this is never made clear - just a lost love interest that the author supposes the big black bird has come to mock him for.

At first amused by the Bird, he begins speaking to it, asking if his interest had been accepted into heaven, and would he ever be reunited with them, to which the Raven replies "Nevermore".
"Touchdown Tommy" getting it done against the Browns

According to scholars, Poe chose a raven as the antagonist of the story because he wanted a non-reasoning creature capable of speech to play opposite the grieving man, delivering a thoughtless, emotionless response to his queries, causing him to become infuriated with the beast and ultimately driving him mad.

The New England Patriots visit Baltimore this Sunday, the workplace and deathplace of Poe - curiously and ironically born in Boston - his Poem the namesake of their professional football team, the defending World Champion Ravens - who started this season in a serious skid, but have rebounded and take a four-game winning streak into their contest with the rival Patriots, their beat writers and the expert prognosticators becoming the visitor's antagonist...

...perhaps the same "non-reasoning" creatures capable of speech, who implore Patriots' fans to abandon all hope of their team claiming victory over the devil birds - for their season is the trope for which the madman laments, gone the way of Lenore.

The experts and writers are jumping off the Patriots' bandwagon like rats fleeing a sinking ship, several close wins and the loss of tight end Rob Gronkowski evolving into last week's close loss to the Miami Dolphins the impetus for the mass exodus - the team's good fortune falling into disrepair, seemingly too wounded to compete with the suddenly tyrannous and oppressive Ravens.

And why not?  Predicting the Ravens to win is a no-brainer, gun-shy prognosticators taking the easy road by picking the red-hot champions at home against a team that lost their biggest play-maker and have an injury list half the length of the entire roster.

The entire roster of ESPN writers and experts have the Ravens coming out on top, some by a wide margin - as are all of's staff of writers. In fact, Tom Mantzouranis of the Audibles Blog on adds his narrative to the pig pile burying the Patriots:

"The Patriots are living on the edge. Sure, they’re 10-4, but they’re not far from being 6-8. Their record and reputation have masked the fact that they’re not, really, all that great of a team - and it’s needed Touchdown Tom to bail them out against some pretty bad teams." - Mantzouranis 

Well...yeah. What's your point?

But they aren't bad, either, and "Touchdown Tom" has also bailed them out against some pretty good teams, too - without Gronkowski.  Just as easily as they could have been 6-8, a play here and a play there and they're the worst 14-0 team in the history of organized sports.

The Patriots are a box of chocolates, a coin flip, and they are also equal opportunity in that they give each opponent the same chance to put them away when they have them down - and only four out of 14 have.  And in each of those four losses the Patriots were on the doorstep at the end.

You want to bet against the Patriots, then roll the dice and take your chances.

They've lost four of seven on the road, Roll the dice.  They have the 31st ranked rush defense in the league, and the 24th ranked unit overall.  Go ahead, roll 'em.  Their injury report looks like an anatomical map and both sides of their line of scrimmage are shells of what they started the season with.

Go right on ahead and roll them bones.

There's really no point to any of this, other than a little thing called the Vegas Line - THE experts when it comes to setting winners, and they have the point spread at 2 1/2 points in the favor of Baltimore, and with it being generally accepted that home field advantage in any NFL game is worth three points, the bettors don't have much faith in the Ravens to have them favored for less than a Justin Tucker long-range field goal.

Ah, the drama - the bad words and bad blood.  New England hasn't clinched a playoff berth as yet, and the Ravens probably won't if they don't beat the Patriots.  It always seems to mean something when these two hook up - and NBC inexplicably flexed out of this game for it's prime time extravaganza.

Seems like there's a lot of folks jumping off the Patriots wagon, and it's always a risky proposition - because the Patriots are more Poe's Raven than the Ravens are themselves, driving the experts mad because they just won't go away.

Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.' - Edgar Allen Poe, The Raven, 1845

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