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Month: December 2017

12/17/17 Browns Pregame

With the loss this past Sunday to the Steelers the Ravens are no longer guaranteed a wild card spot for the playoffs.  That said, if the Ravens can win their final three games they are statistically likely to make it to the post season.  The quest to run the table begins this Sunday on the road against the Cleveland Browns.  The hapless Browns are 0 for 13 in 2017 but have been playing more competive of late.  The Ravens would be mistaken to look past the Browns as they are hungry to get their first win of the season and end this losing streak.  And given that this is the Brown’s last home game of the season this is going to be their best chance to get a victory – so expect this team to be all in on Sunday.  So far the Browns have not mailed in and have been playing hard for Coach Jackson which is saying something.  The Browns historical play the Ravens tough and since they see each other twice a year there is no fear facing off as they know one another well.  The Browns recently added a new weapon to their offensive arsenal when Josh Gordon was reactivated from his substance abuse suspension.  Make no mistake about it, Josh Gordon is an elite receiver and is likely to give the Ravens a handful come Sunday.  Carr and Humphrey will have their hands full covering Johnson and Gordon.

The Browns have struggled to score points this season and average just 15.2 points per game.  If they just did a better job protecting the ball the Browns would likely have 3 to 5 wins this season.  If you look at the tale of the tape the Browns aren’t as bad as their record would suggest.  They average more yards per game than the Ravens and boast a better run defense than the Ravens.  The Browns have a tough defense and they are keeping the Browns in games this year.  On the offensive side of the ball Kizer has struggled this year with interceptions, but as he gets more experience he is more than likely going to improve.  At 6’ 4” and 235 pounds DeShone Kizer is a load and he is not shy about running the ball – so I would expect him to run a handful of times to keep the Ravens honest.  Ravens will have to pressure Kizer and get some hats on him, if they can do that they will force some mistakes.

Sunday’s game is a must win for the Ravens and their playoff chances begin with taking care of business against the Browns.  If the Ravens muff this game and fall short, I actually think it would put several jobs in jeopardy beginning with Harbaugh.  Everyone in the world expects the Ravens to win so they had better come through with a spirited effort.  The weather on Sunday is expected to be dicey and there is talk of snow which often is the great equalizer that can make games low scoring and more unpredictable.  The thing that scares me the most about this game is the Browns have nothing to lose.  They can play without fear and take risks all game long and if some of those gambles pay off they could pull off an upset.  The Ravens understand what is in front of them and if the coaches do their job in game planning the Ravens should come away with a victory.  The odds makers have the Ravens by 7 points but I don’t think they will cover.  I expect this game to be close throughout and likely a nail biter for Raven fans.  The Ravens special teams is stronger than the Browns and may very well be the difference in this game.  The Ravens would do well to come out quick and get the first score and play with the lead.  The Ravens offense has been much improved over the past two games and should build on that momentum this week.  Ravens win 24 to 20.  Enjoy the game and stay thirsty my friends.

Cleveland Browns hosting the Baltimore Ravens   Sunday, December 17th at 1:00 PM   Odds Ravens by 7


Game Predictions
Score Ravens 24 Browns 20
Turnovers Plus 2
Net Rushing Yardage Ravens 121 Browns 88
Net Passing Yardage Ravens 242 Browns 239

Miscellaneous Predictions

  • Collins carries the rock 17 times for 76 yards
  • Ravens commit 7 penalties for 68 yards
  • Kizer runs 7 times for 51 yards
  • Refs make terrible calls

Possible Monday morning headlines

  • One down, Two to go!

Keys to the Game

  • Win the turnover battle! Win the turnover battle!
  • Contain Crowell and Gordon
  • Score 24 points or more


Ravens/Steelers Post Game Recap

If you are an NFL sports fan who loves good match ups you were treated to a spectacular game last night, but if you are a Ravens fan you are thinking that when you have an 11 point lead going into the 4th quarter and when you score 38 points you are supposed to win. That was not the case however as the Ravens lose a gut wrenching game to their archrivals and proved to the fans once again just how valuable Jimmy Smith is to this team. Without Smith the Ravens surrendered a season high 506 passing yards. And to make matters worse Big Ben threw the ball a whopping 66 times without giving up an interception. If that is not an NFL record if has to be close to one. I might also add that the Steelers really missed Shazier as the Ravens were able to run the ball effectively against a team that is typically stingy. This game also showed you that if you want to compete in the NFL you need elite players on the offensive side of the ball to get things done. The Ravens defense simply had no answer to Ben, Bell, Brown, and Bryant. Additional thoughts on the game are below:

  • Ravens defense got shredded in the passing game giving up 209 passing yards in the first half and about another 300 in the second half which tells you they were unable to make the right adjustments in game
  • Even though the Steelers jumped out to a quick 14 to 0 lead and appeared to be on their way to a rout – the Ravens never panicked and stayed the course and got back into the game
  • Ravens offense did a good job moving the ball in the game and except for Flacco’s ill-timed interception in the first quarter they played pretty well
  • Time outs due to poor clock management has to improve for the Ravens
  • Steelers on the first possession cut through the Ravens defense like a hot knife through butter capitalizing on the Flacco interception for 7 points
  • Hats off to the Steelers O line who did a very good job with protection often giving Big Ben 4 to 5 seconds to find the open receiver
  • Not sure what is wrong with the Maclin and Flacco chemistry but they often are not on the page and I don’t understand why Maclin does not finish his routes. I hope that the Ravens let him go after this season as he does play any intensity
  • Steelers second possession goes 90 yards for another 7 points
  • The PI call on Canady was a bad call and set them up for another TD but not so surprising since Pittsburgh often gets the calls when they play in Heinz Field
  • Chris Moore had a very nice game and made a great catch on the Ravens first TD
  • Tony Jefferson and Eric Weddle did not play very well and never seemed to be close to the ball when it was thrown down field
  • Really don’t understand why the Ravens didn’t get more over the top help with covering Brown – it makes no sense to me. If you are keeping track Antonio Brown had 11 receptions for 213 yards and Le’Veon Bell had 9 receptions for 77 yards
  • 3rd possession for the Steelers ends with a 52 yard field goal
  • Suggs dropped a gift interception which is surprising because he has unusually good hands for a linebacker
  • Canady had an unremarkable game with a couple bad penalties
  • Alex Collins got off to a slow start with a fumble but after that he made several great runs and played with a lot of heart and grit. Alex was the star of the offense last night averaging 6.7 yards per carry and racked up 120 yards
  • Steelers fourth possession drives down the field for 3 points
  • Hats off to Ravens coaching staff for activating Chris Moore and Michael Campanaro over Perriman as these guys can deliver more and have produced when in the game
  • On 3rd and 16 with 50 seconds left in the game the Ravens defense could not deliver a stop and the 4 man rush left Ben with 6 seconds to find the open receiver. Our front four could not get any pressure on Big Ben and left our secondary vulnerable
  • Big Ben and the Steeler receivers owned the middle of the field most of the night
  • Steelers were 12 of 18 on 3rd down which proves how dominant their offense was in this game
  • Ravens defense didn’t get their first stop until 3 minutes into the 3rd quarter and they gave up 4 scores to the Steelers in their last four possessions
  • Bowser and Levine had a primo opportunity to get the Steelers pinned back to 1 yard line on a kick off but neither of them could get Bryant to the ground
  • Wallace made two brilliant plays to break up what would have been interceptions on passes where the DB had position on him and in both cases he reached over the top to slap the ball down – that is what good receivers do
  • Antonio Brown literally looks for a PI call every single time he doesn’t catch the ball and this for a guy who has made a regular habit of pushing off to get separation
  • The Ravens middle linebackers could not handle the Steeler Tight Ends or cover the middle of the field – it was arguable one of their worst games of the season
  • To me one of the disappointing moments in the game was when the Ravens when 3 and out after the Steelers pulled within one score in the 4th quarter – I thought that Ravens play calling was really bad in that series and it shifted all the momentum to the Steelers
  • With the clock ticking down and on the most critical 3rd down play of the game you go to Maclin – I am befuddled with that call as he is not my go to guy in a critical situation, and to make matters worse he plays dead on the hit he took which cost the Ravens their last time out of the game
  • After 10 years in the league there are still times that Flacco does things that make him look like a rookie – and I will point to that last play of the game where he rolls out and gets caught from behind
  • Ravens coaching staff (mostly Pees) didn’t make the in game adjustments last night to win this game
  • Ravens O line did a good job protecting Joe and they did it against one of the best front sevens in the league
Game Predictions Game Statistics
Score Ravens 20 Steelers 23 Ravens 38 Steelers 39
Turnovers Plus 1 Minus 1
Net Rushing Yardage Ravens 94 Steelers 110 Ravens 152 Steelers 59
Net Passing Yardage Ravens 192 Steelers 242 Ravens 261 Steelers 486

Miscellaneous Predictions

  • Flacco is sacked 3 times       Nope, got to him just once
  • Le’Veon Bell carries for 31 times for 105 yards (3.4 per carry)       Nope, just 13 receptions for 48 yards
  • Ravens have at least one trick play on special teams       Nope, no trick plays
  • Refs make terrible calls       Correct, lots of poor calls and several no calls on obvious penalties

Possible Monday morning headlines

  • Steelers Win in final seconds on Boswell’s field goal

Keys to the Game

  • Offensive balance with a 3rd down conversion rate > than 38%      Correct, 40%
  • Contain Bell, Bryant and Brown      Nope, they accounted for 391 yards and 3 TDs
  • Protect the rock and force some turnovers       Nope, they forced nothing and gave up one INT

12/10 17 Steelers Pregame

Ravens head into the steel curtain to take on the division leader Pittsburgh Steelers. Steeler’s week is always a big week in Charm City and this week should be no exception. The Steelers are coming off a very physical game with the Bengals where they lost their star linebacker Ryan Shazier to a spine injury. To add insult to injury, the Steelers will also lose JuJu Smith-Schuster Sunday to a one game suspension from a hit he leveled on Vontaze Burfict that pasted him to the ground and forced him out of the game. If you watched that game you would have also seen the vicious hit that Burfict laid on Antonio Brown’s head that left Brown sprawling to the ground apparently unconscious as he made no attempt to break his fall to the ground. How Brown got through the concussion protocol to return in that game is nothing short of astonishing – and if you don’t believe me just take look at the hit yourself. On a short week the Steelers will be challenged to heal and recharge before facing the Ravens Sunday night. Rest assured though Coach Tomlin will have them fired up to play for their defensive leader Shazier – and will ask them to play all out for him – and they will. Shazier has already sent a message to his team from his hospitable bed – Beat the Ravens! Both teams play well under the bright lights of the national spot light so this contest should be as good as advertised.

In the first meeting on October 1st in Baltimore – the Steelers manhandled the Ravens beating them 26 to 9, and the Steelers gashed the Ravens defense for 179 rushing yards. Le’Veon Bell had a banner day racking up 144 yards on 35 carries. Things should be different this go round however as the Ravens have Williams back on the field along with the emerging Willie Henry who has worked himself into the front four rotation. Bell will undoubtedly get his yards but I would be surprised to see him get much more than 105. I am more concerned with Bell racking up big yards on screens and shovel passes. Oddly enough the Ravens held Antonio Brown to just 4 receptions for 34 yards, but that was when Jimmy Smith was on the field and I would expect Brown to more than double that production this Sunday. Ben is going to target Humphrey much of the night so Pees will have to give him some help over the top. The Steelers would like nothing more than to sweep the season series with the Ravens which would keep them in the hunt for home field advantage as they look ahead to the playoffs and a likely show down with the Patriots. The Ravens too want this game to keep their winning streak alive and to maintain their wild card spot but if they lose this one to the Steelers they should still be able to get to the playoffs.

Two weeks ago when I made my predictions for the remaining games I said the Steelers would hold court at home and beat the Ravens on Sunday night. I will stay with prediction because I think the Steelers have too many offensive weapons for the Ravens to contain and to deal with. That said, I think Sunday’s game will be close and it would not shock me if the Ravens beat them. Coach Pees and Coach Mornhinweg will need superior game plans to beat the Steelers and I am looking forward to seeing how they manage this game. Here’s why I like the Steelers in this game – 1) They are tough to beat at home   2) Steelers are 2nd in the league in sacks and they will get to Joe and rattle his cage   3) The tandem of Brown and Bell are the best receiver/rusher combo in the league and we can’t match them in those skill positions   4) Steelers generate almost 100 yards more per game on offense. The Ravens strength this year has been generating turnovers and they lead the league at plus 14 – and therein lies the kryptonite for the Steelers. If the Ravens can find a way to go plus 2 or plus 3 on Sunday’s game then they have a very good chance of steeling one in Pittsburgh. The Steelers know this and will work hard to protect the ball. When the week started the betting line on the Ravens/Steelers game was Steelers by 7 ½ points, today that number sits at 5 which shows you things are getting tighter as the game gets closer. I expect the Ravens to cover as this is likely to be decided by 3 or less. Enjoy the game and stay thirsty my friends.

Pittsburgh Steelers hosting the Baltimore Ravens – Sunday, December 10th @ 8:30 PM Odds – Steelers by 5

Game Predictions
Score Ravens 20 Steelers 23
Turnovers Plus 1
Net Rushing Yardage Ravens 94 Steelers 110
Net Passing Yardage Ravens 192 Steelers 242

Miscellaneous Predictions

  • Flacco is sacked 3 times
  • Le’Veon Bell carries for 31 times for 105 yards (3.4 per carry)
  • Ravens have at least one trick play on special teams
  • Refs make terrible calls

Possible Monday morning headlines

  • Steeler’s Win in final seconds on Boswell’s field goal

Keys to the Game

  • Offensive balance with a 3rd down conversion rate > than 38%
  • Contain Bell, Bryant and Brown
  • Protect the rock and force some turnovers

Ravens/Lions Post Game Recap

The Ravens showed you a glimpse of what they can be on the offensive side of the ball. Flacco was sharp, decisive and on target all day long. It was refreshing to see him look confident and in control throughout the game. Flacco’s numbers would have even been better had there not been so many drops from the receivers. This kind of play from the offense is coming just in the nick of time as the Ravens will face some very good offensive teams in the coming weeks. Other thoughts on the game are below:

  • Alex Collins had a huge day with 2 touch downs and some very physical runs. His speed around the corner is proving to be one of his greatest strengths and it was how he got into the end zone both times today
  • The Ravens reverse sweep play never seems to work in large part because it develops so slow and typically ends in a several yard loss
  • Very costly error on Stafford when he fumbled on 3rd down putting them just out of field goal range and a potential loss of 3 points
  • Wallace gets a drop, Moore gets two drops, Watson gets a drop, Maclin gets two drops – this is frustrating and if these balls had been caught we would have likely won by more than we did
  • Beautiful home run ball from Flacco to Wallace for one of the biggest plays of the season for the Ravens – so nice to see the Ravens push the ball downfield some of late
  • Raven linebackers are not doing well in coverage and we are giving way too many yards in the middle of the field
  • The first hit on Stafford didn’t happen until 5 minutes into the 2nd quarter but it was a big one by Weddle and created a turnover
  • Howard’s block in the back penalty on a 10 yard gain was costly and are the kinds of plays that are handicapping this Ravens offense this year
  • The Refs and the NY play review team got it right when they gave Wallace the catch at the 13 yard line
  • It seems to me that Pees is slow to dial up rush pressure until well into a game – I hope that he takes more risk in future games as our secondary really needs the help
  • Seeing Jimmy Smith fall to the ground was gut wrenching and you just had the feeling in the moment that it was season ending which was later confirmed to be a torn Achilles. Ravens are really going to miss him these next 4 weeks
  • Campanaro has to do a better job with ball security on punts, his fumble could have turn the momentum but was fortunately recovered by the Ravens
  • The Lions came out strong in the second half and scored twice on their first three possessions and did so without burning a lot of clock
  • Benjamin Watson has really turned out to be a great add to the Ravens and has proven to have one of the more reliable set of hands on this team
  • Huge stop by the Ravens defense on the Lions second possession in the second when the Lions failed to get a yard on third and one – well done Brandon Williams
  • Flacco was sharp today and he was hitting his targets in stride, unfortunately his receivers had the dropsies today
  • Henry’s PF penalty was a costly one and kept the Lions drive alive ultimately ending in a touch down
  • I love Webby but he no longer has the speed and skill to play in the secondary and compete like he once did
  • Prater, one of the best kickers in the game, misses a field goal and an extra point
  • Ravens O line didn’t open up many holes on the ground game and most of the yard that our RBs got was because of their jump cuts, but they did give Flacco enough time to get the ball out
  • The Ravens scoring after giving up two straight scores was gigantic and exactly the kind of response you want to see from your offense, another 3 and out would have been deadly
  • I have been noticing that the Ravens are giving up a lot of running yardage on the edges and today two touchdowns were scored against them going around the edge
  • Marlon Humphrey was introduced to the NFL in a big way today and was targeted several times giving up several big plays, but in the 4th he did come up big with an interception and gutsy return
  • Loved seeing Suggs on the sidelines talking to the defense after they gave up 3 scores, and what does Suggs do when he gets back on the field but get a sack to set the tone and lead by example
  • Wallace had a big day with 5 receptions and 116 yards which is what you need and expect from your number one
  • Best of the best TD celebrations goes to Alex Collins who mimed a tug of war with the O line and pulls them to the ground – funniest one I have seen this year
  • Tucker is a game changer special teams player and his 51 yard FG with 7 minutes left was big and made it a two score game
  • Weddle was big today with a forced fumble and pick six – so glad to see this bounce back after a few subpar games
  • Ravens defense gave up a lot of yards today, but they also took the ball away 3 times and scored on one of them. This will give you winning football almost all the time
Game Predictions Game Statistics
Score Ravens 27 Lions 24 Ravens 44 Lions 20
Turnovers Plus 2 Plus 3
Net Rushing Yardage Ravens 138 Lions 81 Ravens 101 Lions 78
Net Passing Yardage Ravens 188 Lions 269 Ravens 269 Lions 294

Miscellaneous Predictions

  • Suggs continues his great play with another sack      Correct!
  • Buck Allen leads the Ravens with 13 carries        Nope, just 7 carries
  • Ravens commit 7 penalties for 85 yards       Incorrect, Ravens played clean with just 2 penalties for 25 yards
  • Refs make terrible calls       Correct, missed a blatant holding call on the Lions first score

Possible Friday Monday morning headlines

  • Ravens win their 3rd straight for first time this season

Keys to the Game

  • Play ball control offense and convert on 3rd down      Correct, moved the ball well throughout the day but could have been better on 3rd down conversions
  • Pressure Stafford and force some mistakes      Correct, a fumble and one interception were key
  • Play fast and get the lead early     Correct, Ravens jump out to a 20 to nothing lead in the first half
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