The Baltimore Ravens are a confident group. Just ask them, they'll tell you all about it. Deep inside, however, you get a different feeling. With their emotional leader set to retire, do the Ravens - or their fans - believe they have a chance this Saturday against the Denver Broncos?
I don't think so.
That picture of the Ray Lewis cake above was taken in the Ravens' cafeteria today. Thanking Lewis for his incredible career. Almost speaking in the past tense.
The Ravens, the way the celebrated their win over the Colts on Sunday, appeared as though they won the Super Bowl - or wanted to enjoy the last time Lewis would be on the field during a win.
I might be looking to deep into it, but the feeling I get is the Ravens, much like their leader, have emotionally resigned themselves that the end is near. Even the great Ray Lewis has to struggle remaining focused for the game when he has already made the decision to retire. There's a reason why athletes usually wait until after the season to say anything. It has an effect - on themselves and their teammates.
Remember when Tiki Barber announced he was retiring? It was October. The Giants never really recovered and many of his former teammates held that against him.
Remember when John Elway retired? Sure, we all felt it during the 1998 AFC Championship game - that this might be the final time Elway took the field at Mile High Stadium. Elway even took a victory lap around the stadium. It was all unsaid, however, to keep the focus on the task at hand. The Broncos won the Super Bowl.
Ray Lewis and the Ravens are going to keep saying all the right things. It just seems that the team - and those around them - spent so much energy last weekend to make sure Ray won his last home game that there just might not be enough leftover for Saturday.
Thanks for the memories, Ray!