"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.
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 Tom" 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.
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...
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
The entire gaggle of ESPN writers and
experts have the Ravens coming out on top, some by a wide margin - as do all of SI.com's staff of writers. In fact, TomMantzouranis of the Audibles Blog on SI.com 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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