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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

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