Schedule May Aid Ravens' Playoff Bid
Wright, Ken, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
OWINGS MILLS, Md. - The Baltimore Ravens can't help looking at their remaining schedule and liking what they see.
Throw that "one-game-at-a-time cliche"' out the window. If the Ravens win their final three games, they could earn a wild-card berth. At the very least, two wins in their last three games would guarantee the fourth-year Ravens (6-7) their first non-losing season in Baltimore.
Today at PSINet Stadium, the Ravens host Mike Ditka's lowly New Orleans Saints (2-11). Next Sunday, they face the Cincinnati Bengals (4-10) before finishing on the road against the struggling New England Patriots (7-6).
"You can't help but look on the schedule and see that we have some teams that we are capable of beating in order to make a run for the playoffs," said Ravens quarterback Tony Banks, who has gone 4-3 as the starter since taking over in Week 7. "At 6-7, I don't think you can be complacent enough to think those [victories] are automatic."
No, but today's game might be. The Saints have lost four straight and 11 out of their last 12 games. Ricky Williams, their heralded rookie running back, won't play because of turf toe.
During a conference call last week, Ditka sounded like a man who had thrown in the towel on the Saints' awful season.
"It bothers me in a sense that we had a lot higher expectations, and I thought we would play better in certain areas than we have," Ditka said. "Sometimes when you become a very mediocre football team, you get a lot of injuries. It seems to be instead of giving the punishment you are taking it. We are kind of receiving a lot more than we are giving right now."
Besides their on-field follies, the Saints have received lots of criticism concerning their draft-day trade for Williams, the Heisman Trophy winner out of Texas. New Orleans dealt eight draft picks to the Washington Redskins to get Williams with the fifth overall pick.
One day after Ditka brokered the Williams deal with former Redskins general manager Charley Casserly, Iron Mike was spotted wearing a Rastafarian wig - leading one to wonder what he might have been thinking to give away the Saints' future for a player who recently modeled a wedding dress in a national sports publication.
Thanks to Ditka's selling-the-farm deal, the Redskins will significantly improve their team with an impact player - a likely top-three pick - in next spring's draft.
On draft day, Ditka ignored flashing warning lights when three quarterbacks and Miami running back Edgerrin James were selected before Williams. James is the AFC's leading rusher for the Colts with 1,311 yards (a 4. …