There’s always one team every year. This year, the Ravens won the worst lottery in sports: the Power Punch To The Balls Injury Jackpot! All 3 string runningbacks! Good thing their best runningback is still healthy until he catches Covid for the third time.

JK Dobbins tore his ACL. He’s out.
Justice Hill hurt his Achilles. That’s probably a season.
Gus Edwards hurt his knee. Now that’s a party!

On top of that, it got worse. Marcus Peters, the star defensive back, also tore his ACL. Two Ravens wide receivers, a position they are already laughably thin at, also went to IR. The first is Miles Boykin, who hurt his hammy. The second is first-round pick Rashad Bateman, who hurt his dick muscles. Also out is LJ Fort, Nick Boyle, and now Tyre Phillips. The Ravens lead the league in players on IR with 14, 6 of them starters. Just an absolutely brutal way to start the year. Any one of those weapons by themselves might have been just enough to turn the tide on the Raiders game this past Monday, too. It’s one thing to have your hopes deflated by seeing your team suck. It’s another to watch a talented squad you were excited to see struggle bus their way through a season after losing several key pieces. With the Browns looking strong, the Steelers looking strong, and even the Bengals surprising, the Ravens might have an even bigger problem brewing.

That Raiders game was a masterpiece though and I feel sorry for anyone who turned it off early. Absolute joy of a game. Raiders kept hanging in there despite the Ravens looking better the whole time. The Ravens did that classic clutch move of setting up Tucker for the gamewinner, only to have the moment spoiled by the Raiders setting up their own star kicker for an even more clutch shot. The Raiders looked to win the game on a spectacular pass and catch, only for the review to place the WR down on the one. Then chaos struck. Glorious, glorious chaos. The Raiders couldn’t punch it in, Carr screwed over his own team by hard counting on the half yard line (generating a penalty), then the ball got tipped and the Ravens looked to have snagged victory from the half yard line of defeat. Only to fumble the ball a few plays later. Then the Raiders lined up for a field goal and…took a delay of game (???????) and then got a miracle pass to seal it. Best game of the year so far and I’d be hard-pressed to think it won’t still be a top 5 game of the season by year’s end.

If you remembered to watch, the Manningcast on ESPN 2 was about as great as I hoped it would be. It started a bit rough and it had some strange energy to it that made it slightly harder to concentrate on the game itself, but that was when things were early and boring. By the end they had found a better groove and the positives far, far outweighed any issues. Peyton was insightful and chatty, Eli actually did an admirable job keeping Peyton on track, and they both zinged each other with delightful frequency. Charles Barkley showed up to get made fun of, Travis Kelce stopped by and said “Shit” on live TV, Ray Lewis stopped in and was more tolerable than he normally is, and Russell Wilson came in for the final quarter and eventually overtime and was great. Watching Peyton, Eli and Russ react to the overtime shenanigans was worth the price of admission alone, it was light years better than the actual MNF broadcast, and I recommend it to everyone next round. Not even as a Manning fanboy, but as a person who enjoys a change of pace and a different insight into the sport.