I will leave it to my compatriots here at BSR to provide the in-depth game analysis, but this “just short” trend for this team is bothering me.  It seems as though when the game is on the line it isn’t the Ravens who take it away (the Steelers game not withstanding).  The Falcons drove down the field with impunity in the waning seconds of the ballgame, a game the Ravens never should have been in after wasting a half of football on poor play by Joe Flacco and especially the offensive line.  Yes Baltimore played well in the second half and Flacco finished with a good statistical day, but he was pressured at will by the Atlanta front four and got away with more than one errant pass.  Right now I am not buying this team as elite until they show they can not only win, but play a complete game.  However, Baltimore fans can put this behind them and take in the weekend’s game, hoping the Steelers can lose to let the Ravens keep pace in the AFC North.  The good news?  I did predict the Falcons would score 26 points in my defensive preview.  No, that doesn’t do it for ya?  Okay, lets just go to the kick…

Cam Newton Saga Expands

Okay, so now there are multiple reports that Cecil Newton, Cam Newton’s father, directly told a source at Mississippi State that it would take between $100K and $180K to get his son to go to Mississippi State, this on the heels of a report that Cam Newton said that he went to Auburn because “the money was too much”.  Cecil Newton, for his part, isn’t inspiring much confidence in the way he makes statements that “neither confirm nor deny” any of what’s going on.  If he just refused to talk to people to keep things private, that’s one thing.  But to come out and tell people that you won’t confirm or deny?  That’s inviting even more speculation, and things are seemingly getting even trickier for Cam Newton’s eligibility.  There is one glaring piece of the puzzle that hasn’t been found yet.  There is radio silence from the Auburn University side, which makes sense as they want to protect their star player.  But if the NCAA can somehow financially connect Auburn boosters with Cecil Newton or his church, which underwent major renovations just after Cam Newton’s recruitment, this could be exponentially uglier than the Reggie Bush saga.  I don’t think voters can let it influence their Heisman vote just yet, but if evidence starts to emerge to confirm these stories, it could throw Auburn’s entire season into doubt, even if they don’t lose a game.

Miami’s Vice

Miami took in their second beating at the hands of the Celtics, and all the worries about what this team lacked is starting to come to fruition.  Truth be told, the Celtics are the perfect matchup against the Heat.  The Heat lack a true center, the Celtics have Glen Davis and Shaquille O’Neal, just to name a couple.  I don’t know about calling Miami “soft” as has been thrown around over the first nine games; it’s easy to be called soft when you don’t have anything resembling a capable big man, and Chris Bosh does not count.  I remember the Lakers being called soft with Pao Gasol, and then Lamar Odom elevated his play and that all went away.   I do believe that the desperately needed perimeter shooting will return when Mike Miller comes back from injury, allowing Wade and James to work more in space.  It is too early to push the panic button on Miami, but the team has serious flaws that will hound them all season.  If they can improve their ball movement (seriously, just one or two passes, that’s all I’m asking) and perimeter shooting they can overcome those flaws to a degree.  However, perhaps it’s time to look at the Heat as yet another contender, and not as a presumptive champion.

Samuel to Phillies, Vacancies Mount

Back in September, when all was roses and sunshine for the Baltimore Orioles, Manager Buck Showalter emphatically told anyone who would listen that he wanted his coaching decisions made in “days, not weeks” after the season ended.  Well, the season did end.  And then the postseason ended.  Bench coach favorite Don Wakamatsu went to Toronto, where a managerial spot seemed closer to his grasp.  Rick Adair was hired as a bullpen coach but he may be hired away again as a pitching coach.  In the meantime the existing staff was let go.  With Juan Samuel suddenly deciding not to return as third base coach and instead join the Phillies organization, what was once a seemingly organized transition has become a frenzied search down the list of candidates to seal up coaching spots for the Orioles.  I am not exactly sure whose fault it is, whether Baltimore perhaps aimed too high in trying to get experienced coaches to accept lower end jobs with the Orioles, or whether they have simply had some bad luck.  If the Orioles are going to contend they need to have every edge possible, from the minor leagues to coaching spots.  If they have to settle for second tier coaches, Baltimoreans might have to settle for more second tier results.