Will Ravens sweat it out against Broncos?

Listen, we all get it when Ravens coach John Harbaugh speaks so highly of the Denver Broncos. They really are a decent football team and you have to take everybody seriously in the National Football League and, well, the Kansas City Chiefs are undefeated so you know there's a mathematical chance that even you could win the lottery.

That's all fine, but Harbaugh and the Ravens need to understand something. I think I speak for everyone when I say that we need a breather. We need Joe Flacco to turn this game into a laser show, and I don't mean with a minute left and T.J. Houshmandzadeh on the verge of an in-season holdout and all of us sweating through our underwear.

The first month of the 2010 season hasn't just been stressful for the players. The Ravens have one of the toughest early-season schedules in the league and it clearly has exacted a big emotional toll on the fan base. I mean, how many times last week did you wake up in the middle of the night thinking about the Steelers game?

Every game has been a nail-biter — even the home opener two weeks ago when the supposedly toothless Cleveland Browns kept running that F-100 pickup truck through the Ravens defensive line.

Don't worry about that happening this week. The Broncos are going to be without running back Knowshon Moreno. They'll run the ball once in awhile, but only to try and take some pressure off quarterback Kyle Orton, who leads the league in passing yardage and threw for 476 yards (but only one touchdown) against the Colts a couple games back.

"[The Broncos] probably have, obviously, one of the most effective passing games in history through four games," Harbaugh said this week.

So they've got that going for them, which isn't nice if you're hoping this will be a total walkover. But I'm really not that worried and neither are the oddsmakers or the seven Sun "experts" — including myself — who unanimously picked the Ravens to win by an average of 15 points.

We could do without the drama.

The Ravens have played on one big stage after another, starting with a season opener against the New York Jets that was hyped for weeks on HBO's "Hard Knocks." That was fun, but rushing across the room to cover your kids' ears every time Rex Ryan made a locker-room speech was pretty tiring, and then we had to sweat out another road game against the defending AFC North champion Bengals.

Frankly, I still break into a sweat thinking about those four interceptions, and you probably remember how worried everybody was after the Ravens scored just 10 points in each of those first two games. Which is why we were looking for a breather when the Browns came to town to open the home schedule.

No such luck. Maybe you've blocked this out by now, but the Ravens actually had to come back in the fourth quarter to win that game, after somebody named Peyton Hillis ran over them for 144 yards.

The suspense built to a crescendo during Steelers week, which is always a high- stress proposition around here. Even without Ben Roethlisberger to deal with, the roller coaster didn't stop until the final minute, and the adrenalin didn't stop pumping until about Wednesday, when your boss caught you going helmet to helmet with one of the vending machines.

Of course, as soon as you came down you started worrying about a letdown. It's only natural. I know I let down after the Steelers game. Did you read my last couple of columns? But I don't think the Ravens are going to let down and Harbaugh doesn't either.

"I guarantee our guys are going to be excited to play on Sunday," he said. "They know who they're lined up against. They know what the challenge is, and we'll have to be up for it."

Sure, we get that and we know the Ravens are taking this game seriously. We just need them to take the Broncos to the woodshed and prove they are can dominate an inferior opponent for four quarters.

Then we can relax and get ready for New England.

Listen to Peter Schmuck on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon Fridays and Saturdays and at 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays with Brett Hollander. Also, check out his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.

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