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Month: November 2018

12/2/18 Falcons Pregame

Sunday’s showdown between the Ravens and the Falcons should be an interesting game as it features the number two passing offense (Falcons – 336 ypg) against the number two passing defense (Ravens – 203 ypg). While the Ravens statistically are very good against the pass, they just don’t feel like a tough secondary to me when I watch them play. And if the Ravens front four does not get pressure on Ryan – it is certain to be a very long day for the Ravens in the secondary. Ryan is having an MVP kind of year with 24 TDs and just 5 interceptions, and a completion percentage of 71.4%. The Falcons have an excellent receiving group in Jones, Ridley, Hooper and Sanu – combining for around 3,000 yards so far this season. Suffice it to say Humphrey and Smith have their work cut out for them Sunday and you can only hope that CJ, Peanut and Young do their very best to cover the tight ends in the middle of the field. The good news is that the Ravens secondary is pretty healthy right now except for Tony Jefferson, and quite frankly Jefferson doesn’t really cover that well so not really sure it is that much of a loss if he doesn’t play. It does help that the Falcons offense has one of the weakest running games in the NFL – and are pretty much a one-dimensional team throwing the ball about 40+ times game.

The Falcons are struggling this season going 4 and 7 primarily because they have an awful defense which is currently ranked 28th in the league. They are not very good at stopping either the running or passing game and don’t have much of a pass rush either. If the Falcons don’t’ score 28 points or more they typically don’t win. The challenge for the Ravens this week is to play aggressively on offense and take advantage of a bad defense. The Falcons have lost three straight and are anxious to right the ship with this home game. They also have the benefit of three days extra rest having played a Thursday night game. Don’t under estimate how much that helps a team this time of year as the NFL body takes days to recover from a physical game.

The Ravens can win Sunday if they play this game to their strengths. The best way to beat Ryan is to keep him off the field. If the Ravens can repeat the same style of game that they have used the past two weeks, they can outscore this high-flying offense by keeping Ryan and Jones on the pine. We need another game of 35 plus running plays that produce drives of five to eight minutes in length and burn lots of clock. I have no doubt that Ryan will be effective when he plays and he will get his yards and his points, but he will be limited to a great degree if he stays on the sidelines. For those of you that watch the money line during the week – it has been an interesting week. The Ravens opened Monday as 2 ½ point favorites and now the points favor the Falcons. You don’t often see the money line change teams in the NFL unless there is a key injury. Either way – Vegas sees this as a close game and I think it will be as well. While Joe returned to practice today, I don’t think there is any chance he plays on Sunday. I think his presence on the field is more to give the Falcons coaches to have something to think about. This game belongs to Lamar and likely the rest of the season too. Most talking heads are leaning for the Falcons who enjoy home field advantage with the extra rest. I am going to go out on a limb and say the Ravens find a way to run up the score and get this road win. If they don’t beat the Falcons this week – I promise I won’t pick the Ravens on the road for the rest of the year. The over/under for this game is set at 48, I like over in this one. Enjoy the game and stay thirsty my friends.

Atlanta Falcons hosting the Baltimore Ravens – December 2nd at 1:00 pm        Odds – Falcons by 1 ½

Game Predictions
Score         Ravens 30      Falcons 28
Turnovers Plus 1
Net Rushing Yardage         Ravens 185      Falcons 88
Net Passing Yardage         Ravens 230      Falcons 289

Miscellaneous Predictions
• Edwards gets his 3rd straight 100+ game
• Julio Jones leads all receivers with 7 catches for 131 yards
• Ravens record 4 sacks (fingers crossed)
• Refs make terrible calls

Possible Monday morning headlines in the Sun Papers
• Ravens win in the bird fight

Keys to the Game
• Run the ball and burn the clock
• Pressure Ryan relentlessly
• Win the turnover battle

Ravens/Raiders Post Game Recap

As predicted the Ravens won decisively at home proving again that when you run effectively you can take over games. The fourth quarter was all Ravens today as they shut out the Raiders and at the same time scored 14 points. I will point out that the game was a one score game until the Ravens took over in the fourth. Lamar was quiet in the first half but had some big runs in the second half and most of them ending with him going out of bounds and eliminating any contact. Nice to see the Ravens win a game that they are expected to.

If projections are accurate Flacco should be ready to go next week so there will be lots of drama in the Baltimore sports media this week as to which quarterback should start next week when the Ravens travel to Atlanta to play. Other thoughts on the game are below:

• Ravens not only get their first turnover since the late 90’s but they actually get a score on the play from T-Sizzle who picked the ball off the ground, eluded defenders and then out ran the Raiders Receiver Marcel Ateman to the end zone. Sizzle reminded me of Ed Reed when he held the ball like a loaf of bread
• Judon had a big game getting three sacks and one of them a forced turnover. That said, his sprint exiting the field of play after his third sack was a head scratcher for me and I hope that I never see that again
• The Ravens defense is susceptible to the reverse because our outside linebackers tend to cheat inside instead of holding their positions on the edge
• Raiders start the game with the ball on the 18-yard line and drive the length of the field to score a TD – burning over 6 minutes of the clock. Their big play occurred on 4th and one when they hit an uncovered TE for a 30-yard gain. Not the outcome the Ravens were looking for when they deferred to the Raiders to start the game.
• If he stays healthy Edwards is going to be a very serviceable RB because he runs up field and consistently gets positive yardage – no happy feet for him behind the line of scrimmage waiting for holes to miraculously open up
• Cyrus Jones came alive in the punt return game returning one for 70 yards for a go ahead score. He also had a 27-yard return that was called back because Chuck Clark gets called for a push in the back
• John Brown had a poor day with a drop and missed scoring opportunity because he developed T-Rex arms
• Congrats to Jackson and Mark Andrews who connected for the longest play this year from scrimmage which went for 74 yards
• I have been saying this all year, but our four-man rush is absolutely non-existent and I think it is time to give some other players more snaps to see if they can do better
• Lamar has a way to go on his decision making and it is going to take some time before he learns the game. He gave up a lot of yards on roll outs where he could have gained some yards going out of bounds but instead threw the ball away. His two interceptions in the first half were costly and kept the game close
• Ravens burned all three-time outs in the 1st half due to personnel snafus – the coaches need to do better so the TOs can be used for late minute drives
• Doug Martin ran well against the Ravens front seven gaining 4.5 yards per carry which makes you wonder why Gruden didn’t use him more in this game
• Humphrey did a great job defending passes today and he had his hands in the receivers hands all day long
• Buck Allen’s days being suited up on Sundays may be numbered with Edwards and Montgomery grinding out the ground game. Buck by comparison looks indecisive and slow
• Gus Edwards had a big day again today with 118 yards on 23 carries. He didn’t play much in the 4th quarter and I hope that was to give him a rest and not because he was injured
• Stanley completely manhandled his defender when Lamar scored from the 5-yard line and he pushed the guy into the end zone
• The Ravens first possession in the second half garnered seven points and burned 7 minutes off the clock
• Ravens won the time of possession today holding the ball for more than 34 minutes which is amazing considering that the Raiders had the ball for more than 17 minutes in the first half
• Ravens Offensive line played well today and were dominant in the run game – I was especially impressed with the way they got push off the line to generate open lanes
• How good was it to see Crab get a TD pass against his former team – and especially sweet because it was on 3rd and goal and we needed the 6 points
• Orlando Brown’s holding penalty which negated the 50-yard pass to Brown was costly and backed up the Ravens causing a three and out – and I might add was totally unnecessary to protect Lamar
• Marshall Yanda being brought off the field for the concussion protocol apparently pissed him off big time as he was highly combative when requested to leave the field
• Ravens defense held the Raiders to just 249 yards today and they will hold their position as number one defense in the league but they just don’t look like a number one defense to me when I see them play

Game Predictions                                                                                                                     Game Statistics
Score Ravens 27      Raiders 16                                                                         Ravens 34      Raiders 17
Turnovers   Even                                                                                                        Minus 1
Net Rushing Yardage      Ravens 178      Raiders 88                                  Ravens 242      Raiders 67
Net Passing Yardage       Ravens 190      Raiders 182                                Ravens 174        Raiders 182

Miscellaneous Predictions
• Lamar cracks 80 rushing yards            Almost – 11 carries for 71 yards
• Ravens call a fake punt            Incorrect – no fakes today
• Ravens TOP north of 33 minutes            Correct – 34 minutes today
• Refs make terrible calls              Correct – missed an illegal pick and several holding calls

Possible Monday morning headlines in the Sun Papers
• Lamar leads Ravens to second straight win

Keys to the Game
• Play possession football             Correct
• Force turnovers                          Correct, one forced fumble and a score
• Stop the run                                 Correct – Raiders had just 67 yards on the ground

11/25/18 Raiders Pregame

Baltimore will host the hapless Oakland Raiders in what is probably their easiest game left in the schedule. The odds makers have the Ravens by 10 ½ points which is a huge margin especially for a team as inconsistent as the Ravens. It tells you how poorly the Raiders are thought of this year. Jon Gruden’s return to the NFL has been a rocky one and it seems that every decision he makes is a bad one. Raiders have only two wins this year – one against the Browns and one against the Cardinals. The Raiders seem to be a team in turmoil and they have been unable to get any traction in this season.

The Ravens will start Lamar Jackson for a second straight week as Flacco has been declared out for Sunday. Lamar has had the benefit of practicing all week which should help him on Sunday. He will have the benefit of playing one of the weaker defenses in the NFL as the Raiders are ranked 22nd in the league, and rank 31st against the run. If the Raiders have a difficult time stopping the run game then you could see a similar style game that you saw this past Sunday. If the Ravens can play ball control offense, they will be able to keep the Raiders offense off the field and the Ravens defense can stay fresh. On paper this game looks like a bad day for the Raiders.

The Ravens are banged up right now especially on the offensive line so you have to keep your eye on how well they do in the trenches. Lamar’s speed and elusiveness really helps the line because the defense cannot over commit which keeps them from being overly aggressive on their rush. One would think that Lamar will not run as much as he did last week and that Collins and Edwards will see more carries in this game. Coach Mornhinweg will likely call more pass plays this week especially if Lamar protects the ball early, plays smart, and does not try to force the ball in tight spaces. I think the Ravens will dominate in this game but I don’t think the scores will get out of hand. I like the Ravens to cover the 10 ½ points but just barely. Let’s hope that the Ravens defense can find a way to get a turnover this week and put an end to this takeaway drought – Lord knows they are way overdue for some. Enjoy the game and stay thirsty my friends.

Oakland Raiders hosted by the Baltimore Ravens – November 25th at 1:00 pm
Odds – Ravens by 10 ½ points     Over/Under 42 1/2

Game Predictions
Score         Ravens 27         Raiders 16
Turnovers         Even
Net Rushing Yardage         Ravens 178         Raiders 88
Net Passing Yardage         Ravens 190         Raiders 182

Miscellaneous Predictions
• Lamar cracks 80 rushing yards
• Ravens call a fake punt
• Ravens TOP north of 33 minutes
• Refs make terrible calls

Possible Monday morning headlines in the Sun Papers
• Lamar leads Ravens to second straight win

Keys to the Game
• Play possession football
• Force turnovers
• Stop the run

Ravens/Bengals Post Game Recap

Lamar Jackson’s first career start brings the Ravens their first victory in 5 weeks. You have to be impressed with the young man and the composure that he showed today. I don’t want to get too excited because they barely beat the worst defense in the NFL so there are going to be tougher test to come for sure. That said, everyone got a glimpse of what Lamar can do and the kind of football you can expect to see from him. Today’s game look like a college game with the Ravens rushing the ball 54 times. I don’t know if that is a franchise record but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was.

I’d like to point out the reason that Harbaugh decided to go for it on 4th and one at midfield with three minutes left in the game – that was because that was a vote against his defense getting a stop late in the game. Harbaugh has seen the defense give up late scores too many times and he knows they are not their best when it counts the most – but today they got the job done. The defense played well today and stuffed the run and forced the Bengals to be one dimensional. Holding the Bengals to just 255 total yards is noteworthy to be sure. Other thoughts on the game are below.

• Nice to see the Ravens defense get a three and out on the first series – something they have been unable to do in recent game
• Lamar Jackson is a unique runner in that he is crazy quick and slippery through the tackles. His ability to extend plays when scrambling is nothing short of remarkable
• Gus Edwards had a very good game and just earned the number one spot on the depth chart. He gained 115 yards on 17 carries. Pretty amazing for a guy who started the year on the practice squad. Collins who has struggled all year will likely see limited duty in the remaining weeks
• The Ravens opening drive was brilliant using all running plays, with lots of redirects and taking advantage of Lamar’s speed and elusiveness.
• Lamar’s first pass was not thrown until ten and half minutes into the first quarter
• Cyrus Jones has shown to be reliable in catching punts – but that is literally all he can do as he rarely tries to run, and when he does he mostly just jukes in place and then dives to the ground
• Ravens held the Bengals defense to just 30 yards in the first quarter
• The offensive pass interference call on Mark Andrews was a horrible call and likely cost the Ravens three points
• Ravens really hurt themselves today with careless penalties on offense which halted drives and scoring opportunities
• Ravens really took advantage of the situation as the half ended getting just enough yards on offense for Tucker to kick a 56 yarder – into the wind I might add. Keep in mind there was just 25 seconds on the clock to work with on that quick drive
• Ravens defense do not cover backs that slip out of the backfield – something that they have been prone to all year long
• Lamar’s first interception was a classic rookie mistake and one that Raven fans should expect in his first year or so. The turnover was costly too and quickly gave the Bengals seven points and the lead
• Going for it on fourth down early in the 3rd quarter is unusual I admit but I don’t’ really have a problem with it given that they were getting positive yards on running plays. I thought the call was way too predictable and they did not adjust when the Bengals crammed the middle of the line and we went right at it
• Dalton is brilliant running the ball and he knows how to take advantage of defenses when they use man to man coverage – knowing that no one is accounting for him if he runs. Dalton was the leading rusher today for the Bengals
• Humphrey is not a pro bowl caliber corner yet for one important reason – he doesn’t play the ball. He has the speed and agility to stay with top receivers but he doesn’t turn back and look for the ball which makes him look average at time. That said, he did come up with a big play on Bengals last drive
• Ravens need to find a kick returner because Chris Moore is not the guy. He makes bad decisions and almost never gets past the 25 yard line. His best play is taking the knee
• Ravens O line did a great job opening up holes today and several times got to the second level
• Dre Kirkpatrick is a chump and he probably could have been called for three personal fouls today
• Refs suck – how did Dunlap not get called for a personal foul when he tackled and drove Yanda to the ground. It is terrible officiating like that which will cause games to get out of hand in a hurry
• When the Ravens took the lead with eight minutes left in the game – that is precisely when you want your defense to show up and get a stop. They didn’t and to make matters worse they let the Bengals get first downs on 3rd and long twice in that drive. In that particular case they were fortunate as Bullock missed the FG
• When you go for it on 4th down you cannot commit a penalty – that it is inexcusable – an illegal formation call is just unacceptable in that place in the game
• The Ravens time of possession was 38:09 which shows you how important a running game is if you want to control the clock
• Ravens are sitting at 5 – 5 but the chances of them getting to ten wins with six remaining are somewhere between slim and none. I know that sounds negative but they too many road games against good teams to think that is possible

Game Predictions                                                                                        Game Statistics
Score         Ravens 17         Bengals 24                                                       Ravens 24        Bengals 21
Turnovers         Minus 2                                                                               Minus 1
Net Rushing Yardage         Ravens 99         Bengals 127                Ravens 265         Bengals 48
Net Passing Yardage         Ravens 222         Bengals 280                Ravens 138         Bengals 207

Miscellaneous Predictions
• Lamar has two turnovers – fumble and INT                Nope, 1 INT but no fumble
• Tyler Boyd leads all receivers with 9 rec and 123 yds                Yes, led all receivers but only for 71 yards
• Bengals TOP north of 31 minutes                Incorrect, Ravens dominate TOP
• Refs make terrible calls                               Yes, several missed calls

Keys to the Game
• Establish the run game                           Correct, 54 rushes for 256 yards
• Contain Boyd and Mixon                       Correct, Mixon held to 14 yards on 12 carries
• Protect the rock                                       Nope, minus one on the day

11/18/18 Bengals Pregame

Sunday features round two with the Cincinnati Bengals playing in Baltimore where the Ravens are coming back to play after their bye week. Let’s be brutally honest about where things stand – the Ravens have to win tomorrow to keep this season relevant. A loss tomorrow would almost certainly signal that the Ravens are destined to whiff on the post season. Losing a fourth straight game will likely seal the fate of John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco. A loss tomorrow against the Bengals will change the course of the remaining games and make the use of players look more like a science experiment. The whispers of Harbaugh getting axed and Flacco being traded or cut are getting louder and louder with each passing day. A loss on Sunday will only put more pressure for change – which many will say can’t come soon enough. Tomorrow will either produce a win and give fans an ever-slight glimmer of hope, or a 4-game losing streak with despair winning the day for fans and players alike.

On paper the Ravens look like the better team, and statistically they are better. The Bengals give up a whopping 32 points a game and surrender 465 yards a game – both of which rank them at the bottom. The Bengals offense is better but they are middle of the road in terms of yardage and Sunday they will likely be without their number one weapon AJ Green who has a toe injury. As of this writing it is still unknown who will quarterback for the Ravens as Flacco nurses a hip injury and Lamar was sick this past week with some kind of crud. I for one hope they give the ball to Robert Griffin because I think he gives them the best chance to win, and to be fair he has had the most practice this week. Even if RGIII gets the nod – you can be certain that Lamar will get his share of snaps on Sunday.

With all the uncertainty tomorrow on who will be playing it is really hard to predict what is going to happen. The Bengals suck on defense but look like the 85 bears when they play the Ravens – and as I have said before Marvin Lewis have our number. The Bengals beat the Ravens pretty soundly in the beginning of the season – and they never seem to worried when the play Baltimore. The Ravens defense, while statistically number two in the league, look like a shell of what they were in September. The weird thing is both teams are sort of in a demoralized state at the moment – and only one them can come out of the funk they are currently in. The Bengals got slobber knockered last Sunday losing to the Saints 51 to 14, you would think that has to play on your team psyche. The Ravens have lost 3 straight and have been unable to get teams off the field. To me the Ravens look like a team in decline and I fear that some of the players have resigned themselves to no post season and therefore may not want to give it all out on the field – seeing no pay back for their efforts. I do hope I am wrong about that. Vegas has the Ravens by 4 points, with the over under set at 43.5. I would take the Bengals in this one and I like the under. Enjoy the game and stay thirsty my friends.

Cincinnati Bengals hosted the Baltimore Ravens – November 18th at 1:00 pm
Odds – Ravens by 4

Game Predictions
Score         Ravens 17         Bengals 24
Turnovers         Minus 2
Net Rushing Yardage         Ravens 99         Bengals 127
Net Passing Yardage         Ravens 222         Bengals 280

Miscellaneous Predictions
• Lamar has two turnovers – fumble and INT
• Tyler Boyd leads all receivers with 9 rec and 123 yds
• Bengals TOP north of 31 minutes
• Refs make terrible calls

Possible Monday morning headlines in the Sun Papers
• Ravens extend losing streak to 4 straight

Keys to the Game
• Establish the run game
• Contain Boyd and Mixon
• Protect the rock

Ravens/Steelers Post Game Recap

This game played out more or less as I expected and if you look at my stat predictions I was pretty much spot on. When the Steelers went ahead 14 to 3 with just seven minutes into the second quarter it just seemed like the Steelers had the game under control and they were not going to give up the lead – which they didn’t. The Steelers moved the ball with ease and were able to get TDs in the red zone while the Ravens were unable to capitalize on their opportunities. The Steelers time of possession was 36:29, and when you do that you typically win. Flacco played ok at times but he left some plays out there which really hurt our points total. If you haven’t already hit the panic button on this season you can hit it now, the Ravens are not playing well and there is no relief in sight. The Ravens look old, and the truth is they are old – second oldest team in the NFL. There are still seven games left in the season, but my guess is that they will not recover enough to get to the post season. Change is coming my friends, and if not in the near future most certainly in January. The Ravens are going into their BYE which should help in getting some guys healthy. Other thoughts on the game are below:

• 1st offensive series for the Ravens was very sloppy with a bobbled handoff, two quarterback hits, a duck throw and a missed route. Typically for your 1st offensive series is scripted and seeing the miss cues was particularly disappointing and indicator of things to come
• Refs completely missed the grounding by Ben on the first series – as he was clearly not out of the pocket
• That catch by Chris Moore in the middle of the field was impressive and may earn him more playing time in coming weeks
• Alex Collins got away with a late shove on TJ Watt after a run, and I especially enjoyed watching Watt complain to the Refs for the next 5 minutes
• Flacco totally missed what would have been an easy TD pass to a wide-open Jackson on 3rd and goal, so they had to settle for 3 points
• I can’t put my finger on it, but it absolutely looks like the Ravens defense have taken the foot off the pedal and they are content to let teams chip and chunk down the field. Coverage is soft and they tackle like they are playing flag football
• The Ravens had no one that could match up with Conner and he absolutely dominated the Ravens with 163 total yards
• The Ravens defense was horrendous in their tackling today and this has been a pattern the last few games. There were too many plays in which the first defender missed the tackle
• Flacco missed a wide-open Crabtree for a TD, and again they had to settle for 3 points
• I like using Lamar Jackson on the offense but they are so predictable with him running and the Steelers defense had his number all day. Coach Mornhinweg play calling was suspect at times
• Other than a sack, when is the last time you saw the Ravens defense generate a negative yardage play
• Eleumunor committed two penalties in the Ravens last drive before the half to kill any chance of getting any points to finish the half
• I have said this several times already, but the Ravens front four pass rush is nonexistent and I hope that DaCosta uses his first-round pick on a pass rusher and his second pick on a free safety
• The PF on Weddle was a bad call albeit in game speed the hit on Schuster looked bad
• Pierce and Williams were non-factors on defense and appear to be a shadow of what they were in the first 4 games
• Judon had some outstanding plays today and was one of the few defensive players that played well
• Steelers offense was outstanding on 3rd down and were 10 of 16 on the day which resulted in huge time of possession
• The Ravens offense generated a pitiful 267 total yards of offense on their home turf – that is cause for great concern
• Coach Wink, in case you haven’t seen the tape – the Steelers like to use screen passes to their RBs and TEs so you actually have to cover them off the line of scrimmage with your linebackers
• Steelers first drive in the second half burned eight minutes and 14 seconds
• When the Ravens pulled within seven points with two and half minutes left in the 3rd quarter the Ravens finally delivered a 3rd down stop which you hoped would be a turning point in the game – sadly our following possession was a disaster
• Suggs looked like an old man today and I would bet a handsome amount of money that this is his last ye
• How many times have we seen over the years where Ben gets helped off the field and then comes in after a short break only to return and burn the Ravens on a pass play – which he did today with a 51-yard pass to Jesse James
• Offensive line did a pretty good job protecting Joe today given how banged up they are
• The Steelers were the more physical team today as evidence by how many Ravens were banged up in this game. The Steelers defense really hits hard and when they tackle you they leave a bruise
• With 3rd and 5 with 4 minutes left on the clock Ben delivers with a strike to Brown to basically seal the game by burning up much of the clock
• It was really encouraging to see Jimmy Smith play well today – he did a nice job in coverage especially since Ben had 5 to 8 seconds to throw

Game Predictions                                                                                     Game Statistics
Score        Ravens 19 Steelers 27                                                          Ravens 16 Steelers 23
Turnovers            Minus 1                                                                                   Even
Net Rushing Yardage      Ravens 86 Steelers 131                       Ravens 61 Steelers 113
Net Passing Yardage       Ravens 219 Steelers 275                        Ravens 207 Steelers 282

Miscellaneous Predictions
• Joe Flacco is sacked 4 times                               Nope, only brought down twice
• Suggs has 4 almost sacks                                   Nope, almost had one sack
• Conner gets 22 carries for 111 yards                 24 carries for 107 yards
• Refs make terrible calls                                      Correct!

Keys to the Game
• Stop them on 3rd down <40%                                    Nope, 10 0f 16 on the day
• Keep Joe clean and upright                                        Sort of – but he had to hurry throws
• Win the turnover battle                                              Neutral – no turnovers

11/4/18 Steelers Pregame

The Ravens host the Steelers Sunday in a game that is taking on great significance as we launch into the second half of the season. The Ravens have spiraled in recent weeks and are sitting on a two-game losing streak and sit 2 games behind the Steelers. Losing to them Sunday would almost certainly kill any hope of an AFC division title not to mention that it will put them in serious jeopardy of getting to the playoffs. The Ravens are banged up right now and with their offensive line losing key personnel – it makes it difficult for their offense to get into any kind of rhythm. The Steelers have been playing against Joe for a long time and they know if they can get pressure on him they will win the day. You have to think that Coach Butler is licking his chops at the prospect of going up against Baltimore’s O line which is playing second and third stringers. TJ Watt stands to have a big day. The Steelers have the second most sacks in the league and are likely to get a handful on Sunday. Coach Mornhinweg is going to have his hands full coming up with schemes to protect Joe from the blitz.

Sunday’s game will test the Ravens and their ability to bounce back from adversity. This sounds negative I know, but to me the Ravens look like a team that is in decline. We will know more Sunday on this point. Their offense is sputtering right now – no running game, lack of separation from the receivers, too many drops, no big plays, blocked passes, and a lack of continuity on their offensive line. The defense doesn’t look any better to me either and they are giving up way too many long drives, no pass rush from the front four, and for the first time in a long while – I am seeing some frustration and disunity on the field. The Steelers on the other hand have found their offensive mojo and they are executing well both on the ground and in the air. Big Ben is playing well, and Brown and Schuster are eating up secondaries. The Steelers defense, which is average at best, is playing better in terms of not giving up the big yardage plays but my fear is that on Sunday they will look like the 85’ Bears.

Here are things to consider for this game: Ben doesn’t play particularly well in Baltimore, season sweeps are hard to do and hardly every happen, Steelers haven’t lost a game since they played the Ravens, Steelers are healthy/Ravens are banged up, Ravens have given up 53 points in the last 5 quarters, and Pittsburgh leads series 27 to 22. While the Ravens are favored in this game I think the Steelers have everything going their way. Ravens can’t seem to generate any turnovers and that has been the difference these last few games. The Steelers are coming in with a great deal of confidence and I think they are poised to take this game and split the series. If the Ravens lose this Sunday, and I think they will, the unpleasantness in the Castle will increase significantly. Steelers win this one outright and likely have things in hand by the end of the 3rd quarter. The Over/Under is 47 – I like the under. Enjoy the game and stay thirsty my friends.

Pittsburgh Steelers hosted by the Baltimore Ravens – Sunday – November 4th @ 1:00 PM     Odds – Ravens by 2 ½      Over/Under 47

Game Predictions
Score           Ravens 19    Steelers 27
Turnovers           Minus 1
Net Rushing Yardage           Ravens 86    Steelers 131
Net Passing Yardage            Ravens 219    Steelers 275

Miscellaneous Predictions
• Joe Flacco is sacked 4 times
• Suggs has 4 almost sacks
• Conner gets 22 carries for 111 yards
• Refs make terrible calls

Possible Monday morning headlines in the Sun Papers
• Too much Wattage fries Flacco

Keys to the Game
• Stop them on 3rd down <40%
• Keep Joe clean and upright
• Win the turnover battle

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