Boomer Esiason

Boomer Esiason

Just when you thought you couldn’t possibly hate CBS Sports' coverage of the Baltimore Ravens more, along come Dan Marino and Boomer Esiason with their ignorant pre-game predictions Sunday.

“I love the Bengals to come of age today,” Esiason said.

“I think Baltimore’s going to be the fifth seed,” Marino added. “Baltimore has not been a good road team all year.  And A.J. Green is coming back for Cincinnati. That means Pittsburgh’s got to beat Cleveland, which I think will happen.  They will be the No. 2 seed, and Cincinnati gets in the playoffs today.”

 Right, guys. More great football analysis and prognostication from the gang at CBS Sports.

 Final score: Baltimore 24, Cincinnati 16.

What’s up with the CBS Sports analysts anyway? Why would anyone who doesn’t live in Ohio think Cincinnati was going to rise and Baltimore would fold in such a big, big game? Cincinnati, for goodness sakes?

OK, I can see Esiason, who played for the Bengals, making that crackpot call. But what’s Marino’s excuse?

Was it all based on the Ravens being on the road? Is that how superficial the analysis at CBS Sports runs?

I wonder how much Esiason “loves” the Bengals now. They certainly came of age Sunday, didn’t they?

Sure, the Ravens have not played great on the road. And they didn’t play great Sunday. But did anyone at CBS Sports ask whether Cincinnati had anyone who can rise to the occasion in the crunch on defense like Terrell Suggs did with his strip of the ball in the fourth quarter? Did they calculate as to whether Cincinnati had any single offensive weapon like Ray Rice?

But there is no need for such calculus in the act-like-you-know-gas-bag-hot-dog school of sports analysis that CBS specializes in. You just move your lips and pump up the bluster.

What’s maddening about the empty-headed pregame talk is that coverage of the game itself was solid. The production and direction were as good as I have seen on CBS this year.

I didn’t see the CBS cameras fooled badly once Sunday. And I have to say, they captured every important play from several angles, and had them up in replay within seconds to give viewers more than one point of view on crucial calls. The direction was so focused and sure-handed that I thought I was watching NBC’s Sunday Night Football at times.

And the producers went the extra mile to line up some good-looking video and live images of Cincinnati to use when going to and coming out of commercials. The images of ice skaters, carriages and twinkly, downtown, night-time lights dressed up the production nicely. Cincinnati certainly couldn’t have asked for more.

As for the guys in the booth, Ian Eagle on play-by-play and Dan Fouts on analysis, they were mainly OK – well, up until the final minute.

I wanted to throw a chair at Fouts on the second to last play of the game for unilaterally deciding that Lardarius Webb had interfered in the end zone with a Cincinnati receiver – even though the referee didn’t see it that way.

“The official was standing right there and didn’t throw the flag,” Fouts said incredulously.

I’m sorry, the call didn’t seem that incredible to me.

Maybe it seemed incredible to Fouts because he also had seemed to favor Cincinnati to win in his idle pre-game chatter.