Final Score: Baltimore 29 Minnesota 26
I had the opportunity to actually be at this game yesterday, and I have to say– I challenge you to find a better environment for football than an absolute snow day in Baltimore. It was electric. The beers were flowing, the Fireball was smuggled in, and everyone was like a giddy kid on Christmas throughout the entire game.
Dennis Pitta being back on the field was huge. Most Ravens fans know the chemistry he and Flacco have on the field, and it couldn’t have come at a better time than the 1-yard TD catch on 4th and goal. Huge. This sparked what has been called the most insane final 2 minutes in NFL history. SIX lead changes. Jacoby taking a Kickoff back for a score. Vikings answering. Twice.
Then, Joe cool came through to Downtown Marlon Brown for the final score of the game. This was Baltimore football. It’s never easy, but we get it done. Blue collar, bare knuckle. We’re still alive in hunt for the playoffs.
PS: Adrian Peterson, yeah snowballs were being thrown. You’re playing in a football game with snow everywhere. Lighten up a little bit and build a snowman or something.
The Ravens were finally able to move the ball on the ground, but struggled mightily in the passing game. With the running game success one would have thought Flacco would have been calm and collected in the pocket, but it was the complete opposite. He missed WRs, threw a pair of INTs(led to 3 points), was sacked 3 times, and looked uncomfortable all game. The Ravens OLine probably had their best game of the year(not saying much), and it looks like the addition of Eugene Monroe may end up being a good move. They are starting to play as a unit. Ray Rice looks like he found that burst he has been missing all season. Could be good moving forward.
The defense was strong all game. Forte is a tough player to stop, and he was able to move the chains all game with his 125 yards of total offense. The secondary kept Brandon Marshall in check, but did allow Jeffery 80+ yards. It really is pick your poison with those two. Overall, the secondary played well. The front 7 gave up 100, but seemed to play stronger as the game progressed. The defense played well with all the talents on the Bears offense. This game came down to terrible play from Flacco.
Torrey Smith posted weak yardage again with 32 yards on 5 catches(8 targets). He did score a big TD to take the lead in the second quarter. He needs more touches, and should be in double digit targets with the amount of passing the Ravens usually do. Jacoby Jones continues to be a no factor. The TEs have not been playing well and need to step up as 3rd down targets to move the chains. The offense needs to find some sort of rhythm(and need to improve their 1-5 road record).
Next week is a huge game at M&T Bank vs the Jets. This is a must win, especially with the Bengals playing the Chargers after their week 12 bye week.
It may be a little too early to say this, but this game could be a must win for the Ravens. The Birds are back at M&T Bank, where they have been pretty good this year. The only problem is that the Bengals are in town. The Bengals are the favorite to win this(for obvious reason), but I expect this to be a tough battle between AFC North foes.
You can read my reaction to last weeks loss for the state of the Ravens. They need to play better in the secondary and the offensive line needs to start blocking. The front 7 have been playing well all year. The offensive skilled positions have not had holes or time to get open because of the lack of blocking. Joe Flacco needs to emerge as a leader and win this team some games, even with the struggling secondary.
The Bengals enter Sunday’s game 6-3, and fresh off an overtime loss to Miami last Thursday. They have had plenty of time to recover and prepare for this weeks game. They boast 7th best passing attack and 19th rushing. Two words: A.J Green. I would suspect the Ravens to double him and/or shadow him with a safety over top. Good luck to the Raven’s corner who gets that duty. The Bengals O-line has been pretty good this year in their pass and run blocking. Andy Dalton has been improving all year and has time and weapons. They feature a 2 back system with BenJarvis Green-Ellis and rookie playmaker Giovanni Bernard who has also been getting better week by week. Marvin Williams had a 4 TD game two weeks ago and Sanu is decent, but AJ Green is their only solid WR. TEs Gresham and rookie Tyler Eifert can stretch the field and block. They cause mismatches with LBs and Safeties. This is very good and balanced offense. The Ravens D needs to rely on pass rush, shutting down the run, and limiting big plays. The Bengals will pass for 300 yards, but AJ Green and Sanu need to be kept under check. They need to give up the underneath routes and play a bend but not break style defense. Let the D-Line pressure Dalton into a mistake or 2 that could change the game.
Defensively, the Bengals are one of the best in the league, 11th in passing and 10th in rushing. The loss of Geno Atkins is huge, but they have pretty good replacements for him. The Ravens will be unable to run against the front 7. Burfict, Maualuga, and James Harrison are all run stoppers at Linebacker. The D-Line includes run stopper Domata Peko, and edger rushers Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson. This is a scary front 7(without Atkins). Corners Adam Jones, Terence Newman, and nickel Dre Kirkpatrick are decent but nothing too special. Safeties Reggie Nelson and George Iloka have been very consistant this year. The Ravens need to isolate Torrey Smith on one of these corners. Throw him slants, curls, crossing routes, and screen early. Get the ball in his hands. After repeated short attempts, get him on a double move with max protection. Utilizing Smith will be essential for a win. Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce, and TEs Dickson and Clarke should be used in the passing game as well. Burfict is the only one who can cover, so getting Rice on Maualuga or Harrison should be easy checks for Flacco. Dickson and Clarke should be able to find holes in the middle of the field. Flacco needs to make calls and audibles at the line depending on what the Bengals line up in.
Prediction: The Bengals are too good of a team to lose this game. 27-17 Bengals. Only way Ravens win is if their RBs go for 100 and 1+TD and Torrey Smith hits 100 and 1TD(must keep AJ Green under this as well).
Well, this was not a good one. The Browns snapped their 11 game win street vs the Ravens. The Birdss ran for 55 yards on 21 carries. Rice and Pierce were non factors as the oline continued to struggle. The Browns ran for 73 yards on 28 carries. The worst part of this game: the Ravens defense was handeld by Jason Campbell. 23/35 262 yards 3 TDs O INT. This is the line I would expect from Brady, Manning, or Breese vs. The Ravens defense.
With another road loss, the Ravens fall to 1-4 on the road (2-1 at home) and 3-5 overall. If the Ravens continue their woes on the road, there is no chance they make the playoffs. Raven defensive front played well sacking Campbell 3 times and stopping the run. The secondary played poor all game, allowing Greg Little 122 yards. They did shut down Josh Gordon(3 rec 44 yds), but they couldn’t limit the damage. Ladarius Webb has been picked on all year. Same with Elam and Ihedigbo. They must improve.
The 9 penaltys for 80 yards didn’t help, as well as the -1 turnover ratio. Joe Flacco was pressured all game, including 5 sacks for 27 yards. 24/41 with a 56.1 QBR was terrible, although the Browns defense is very good. The Ravens offensive line may be the worst in the NFL. This game came down to if Flacco could outplay Jason Campbell in the second half and he was unable to. The defense struggling with the pass game and the poor offense need to change soon or the Ravens may be picking in the top 10. Luckily 4/5 next games are home, including CIN, NYJ, PIT, and MIN. This could be 3-4 wins that could put the Birds in wild card contention. Get it together Flacco, let’s get a 100 yard rusher this season please.
The Ravens won week 2 vs Cleveland at M&T Bank, 14-6. Some notable changes have occurred since week 2 for the Browns, including Jason Campbell starting this week and Trent Richardson being traded to Indy. The Ravens defense has been improving each week, especially the front 7 which has been able to pressure QBs.
While it would be easy to chalk this down as a win for the Ravens, don’t forget this game is being played in Cleveland. The Dawg Pound is always rocking, regardless of the teams success, so I expect this game to be a close one. Ravens should shut down the Browns rushing game, but I’d expect Jason Campbell to have a few scrambles out of the pocket. Limiting Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron will be essential. Their explosive play ability is in the tops in the league.
The Browns defense is one of the best in the league. 6th in passing and 11th in rushing. They have also played Green Bay, Detroit, Kansas City, Cincinnati and Minnesota(only rushing attack), all teams with top offenses. The Ravens will not be able to run the ball, so this game should depend of Flacco and the defense. The Browns secondary is pretty good, including All Pro Joe Haden, so Flacco needs to stay calm in the pocket and make smart, quick decisions. They also have one of the better front 7 including Kruger, D’qwell Jackson, Phil Taylor, and rookie standout from LSU Barkevious Mingo, who has 4 sacks.
This is a tough call because I think it’s really a toss up, but I’m going to guess a 20-13 Raven’s victory. Suggs, Dumervile, and Ngata apply pressure and close running lanes all game, Flacco does enough in a defensive battle to get the W in Cleveland.
The Steelers vs Ravens rivalry has been one of the best in the NFL over the past years. While both teams are not where they want to be right now, this should be a hard hitting, down to the wire, defensive battle that all Pittsburg and Baltimore fans are used to.
The Steelers and Ravens seem to have similar problems and strengths. Both teams have good defenses who can rush the passer. The Steelers have a better secondary while the Ravens front 7 is slightly favored over the Steelers. Both teams obvious problem: the offensive line. The Steelers lost Pouncey for the year and have struggled mightily in his absence. They are last in the league in rushing averaging only 61 yards a game. Levon Bell is back from injury, but the rushing attack for the Steelers has been pathetic. The Ravens are not much better at 27th in NFL with 72.7 yards a game. Eugene Monroe, the former Jacksonville first round pick filled in for Bryant McKinnie last week and whiffed on a block that lead to a Flacco fumble that was returned for a TD right before the end of halftime. Not a good start buddy.
Both teams have very good defenses. The Ravens shut down the run well, but can struggle vs the pass. The Steelers can be run on, but have a top 5 NFL secondary in terms of passing yards per game. The Ravens have been trying all year to establish the run, and this could be the week. Eugene Monroe is a good run blocker and if Ed Dickson can block the tough OLBs on the Steelers, there could be some holes for Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. Knowing how this rivalry goes, I’m going to guess the Ravens and Steelers running games are both shut down and eventually abandoned by the middle of the 3rd quarter. This means Big Ben vs the inconsistant Ravens secondary and Flacco vs the tough and experienced Steelers secondary. The Ravens will need to pressure Big Ben and close the pocket. He is one of the shiftiest pocket passers in the NFL(science messed up on that one), and the Ravens need to utilize the 3-4 to mix up blitz packages. The Steelers will put Ike Taylor on Torrey Smith and play ball. This should be a bit worrisome for Ravens fans. The Steelers generally leave Ike Taylor on an island and let Troy Polamalu run wild, which means he will be in the middle of the field distributing crossing routes, running into the flat to get under curls, and blitzing like a mad man.
With the Steelers at home, and the match ups being somehow favorable for the Steelers, I think this could be another L for the Ravens. If your looking to bet on the game, I’d go with the under. This will be a low scoring game, likely ending on a field goal or a missed 4th down conversion.
Pick: 17-14 Steelers. I don’t have much confidence in either teams right now. Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders stretching the field scares me. If the Ravens pass rush can get 5-6 sacks and the the offense can rush for 100 yards, I would chalk it down as a win, but I don’t see that happening.
Defense was worked up and down the field all game. 140 Rush yards 315 Passing yards. Luckily the Packers had trouble finding the end zone, or this would have been a blow out. 2-14 on third down and 22 carries for 47 yards is embarrassing. These are not the worst things that happened somehow. Flacco getting sacked and fumbling from the Raven’s 34 yard line with 10 seconds left in the half that led to 3 points moments after a missed Green Bay FG was terrible.
Other than on 3rd down, Flacco looked impressive, throwing for 342, 2 TD, and 0 INT. He completed passes of 63, 59, 41, and 31, which is a good sign that the Ravens will be able to stretch the field this season.
Not controlling the line of scrimage really hurt the Ravens in this game, and have all year. Next week should be a hard hitting AFC North showdown at Pittsburgh.
Hey, at least the division is still wide open, though. Unfortunately the Steelers have momentum after their (FIRST) win this week, but that’s OK. Time to drop the hammer.