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Month: October 2019

10/20/19 Ravens vs. Seahawks

Sunday’s game against the Seahawks begins a ten-game stretch that will be very difficult for the Ravens. Other than the Bengals game away and the Jets at home, and these games aren’t gimmees, the other eight games look pretty scary. The Ravens at 4 and 2 are right where I thought they would be at this point in the season, and now that we know more about the teams we are going to face – honestly it looks much more daunting. I didn’t think the Niners, Texans and Bills would be this good, and you also have to face the Patriots and Rams along the way. If the Ravens finished at 500 it would not surprise me one bit. Fortunately for the Ravens, since their division competition has gotten off to such a bad start, it is fairly likely that the AFC North champion will only need 8 or 9 wins to the win the division. Based on that I would like to think the Ravens have a good chance to be in the mix late December. That said, they are going to have to improve in some areas and they will eventually have to win some games against the better teams of the NFL. Through the first six gams the Ravens have played only one team with a winning record and they lost one.

The Seattle Seahawks are playing very good football and their 5 and 1 record is legit. Russell Wilson is having a tremendous year and through 6 games he is the odds-on favorite to win the MVP this year. He is going to be very difficult to stop on Sunday and given our lack of pass rush from the Ravens he is going to have all day to find receivers. It really doesn’t matter how much talent you have in your secondary, if you give an NFL quarterback time – he is going to complete passes. So far Coach Wink has been unable to find the right recipe of players and schemes to get pressure on the quarterback and that has been the theme all year. Did you know – that the Ravens lead the league in blitz attempts at 50% and they still only have nine sacks on the season. Keep in mind too that the Ravens couldn’t pressure Dalton and he had an offensive line of second stringers. I know that I have been harping on this lack of pass rush issue but it is arguably the biggest defect of the Ravens team. You have to wonder if DeCosta can find something in the trade market in the next two weeks. The recent addition of Marcus Peters will help the secondary, but I don’t expect him to be a savior for the defense. Keep in mind, he is brand new and might make some bad reads and miss some coverage assignments as he learns the Ravens system. The Ravens have really been snake bitten with the injuries in the secondary, and what was once seen as a defensive strength is looking very thin right now.

Looking at the match up this Sunday it is surprising how similar their stats and ranking are in both offense and defense. They are both top 5 offenses and both have average defenses. I think this game, as most games are, will be won in the trenches. Establishing the run game and stopping the opponents run game will be key for both teams and the one who does that best will likely win this game. The Hawks are plus six in the turnover stat and that is one area they are superior to the Ravens. This Hawks defense knows how to go after the ball. Playing in Seattle’s Century Link Stadium is no picnic, and they know how to make some noise – so this will be problematic for the Ravens offense and their play calling. Earl Thomas is returning to his old stadium and it will be interesting to see how he plays as you would imagine he has something to prove to the team that let him go after 9 years and being the leader of the Legion of Boom.

It is hard to think that the Ravens are going to beat the Seahawks on the road this Sunday. They have a lot to overcome and the deck is stacked against them. West Coast travel, depleted secondary, the 12th player, banged up skill players, and questionable defense all lead me to believe that the Seahawks hold court. If the Ravens were to steal a win, they would need to play penalty free, win the turn over battle, score TDs not FGs, and get Russel on the ground. I don’t think they will do enough of these things to win – but we do have the secret weapon in Lamar and he will have to have an incredible game to bring home a win. The odds makers have the Seahawks by 3 ½ points and I think they will cover. The Over/Under is set at 49 and I like the under in this one. Enjoy the game and stay thirsty my friends.

Seattle Seahawks hosting the Baltimore Ravens – October 20th at 4:25 pm
Odds – Seahawks by 3 ½

Game Predictions

Score      Ravens    23       Seahawks    31
Turnovers               Minus 1
Net Rushing Yardage      Ravens    172        Seahawks    112
Net Passing Yardage        Ravens    230       Seahawks    311

Miscellaneous Predictions

• Wilson passes for over 300 yards, and runs for over 40 yards
• Ravens are down by two scores by the end of the first quarter
• Lamar rushes for over 100 yards for the second straight game
• Refs make terrible calls

Keys to the Game

• Run the ball and burn the clock – Keep Russel on the sidelines
• Don’t give up the big plays
• TDs in the RedZone – FGs won’t cut it
• Play clean football

Ravens/Bengals Post Game Recap

The Ravens dominated the Bengals today gaining twice as many yards and holding the ball twice as long, but the final score did not reflect how lopsided the game was on the field. Lamar had a great game running the ball and he carried it 19 times for 153 yards and his speed to beat defenders on the edge is absolutely amazing. The Ravens ran the ball 43 times today and gained a whopping 269 yards on the ground. The other running backs did well but it was Lamar that ripped off the big runs in this game. If the Ravens can keep up this ground attack week after week – by year’s end they will lead the league in rushing yards and time of possession. Today, the Ravens offense was on the field just shy of 40 minutes which is great given the challenges the defensive unit is going through.

With today’s win the Ravens have put a little distance between the second place Browns who lost to Seattle today. The Bengals are done, but even at 1 – 4 I wouldn’t count the Steelers out because the AFC North will likely be won with a 9 and 7 record, and maybe even 500. The Ravens played well today, but frankly they will have to play better if they are going to beat the better teams in the NFL. Committing 10 penalties for 81 yards is way too sloppy especially when you are playing at home. They have a lot of things to clean up and not a lot of time to get them corrected and we will see just how resilient they are when they play the Hawks and the Patriots in the coming weeks. Here are some thoughts on today’s game.

• Bozeman accounted for 4 penalties today which was half of the team’s infractions. He was a concern coming into the season and so far he has not allayed any of our fears.
• Special teams had their worst game of the season – giving up an opening kick off return TD, missing a chance to pin the Bengals on the one-yard line, and committing penalties. Fortunately, Tucker delivered on all his attempts
• Ravens defense held the Bengals to a paltry 33 rushing yards which forced the Bengals to be one dimensional
• Mark Andrews had another big day with 6 catches for 99 yards which led all receivers on the day, but his leap in the second quarter of the game in which he fumbled was ill advised. Just a hunch, but I don’t think we will see Boyles and Andrews doing any Lords a Leaping in the weeks to come
• Auden Tate had a big game today for the Bengals catching 5 passes for 91 yards and although he was in tight coverage for most of them – he made some spectacular catches. I wondered at one point if the Ravens would move Humphries over to cover him
• Humphries, I am learning, is really an exceptional corner and while he doesn’t have the brash personality of some of the top NFL corners – he does go about his job with great skill. He smothered Boyd today and kept him to 3 catches for 10 yards and also got an interception. He has also perfected the play where you strip the ball from a receiver when he catches it – no one does it as well as he does
• Wink needs to clean up these 12 men on the field stuff, we have seen this like 3 or 4 games in a row and that is just an inexcusable penalty in my opinion
• The Ravens did not convert well in the RedZone today, and I really didn’t like the play calls when they got inside the 10-yard line. Coach Roman has to do better job with his calls and put Lamar in positions where he can be successful
• The Ravens defense again was unable to apply any consistent pressure on the QB. They recorded 2 sacks on the day and both of these were in the last 5 minutes of the game when everyone knew they were passing and the Ravens sent 6. Judon has a high motor which I appreciate, but his rushing technique is plain jane and he basically just tries to beat the tackle around the edge which works every once in the blue moon. The Ravens need an elite pass rusher and they need one tomorrow
• It was nice to see the Ravens offense try and get Justice Hill involved a bit more, he could be a nice change of pace in the running game as well as the screen pass
• I didn’t see a big drop off in play with Clark and Elliott replacing the injured Jefferson, which could be a good sign of things to come
• It is pretty amazing that the Ravens bring in two LBs with Bynes and Forte and they both have brought some needed stability in the middle
• Congrats to Lamar who becomes the first quarterback ever to run for over a 100 yard and pass for over 200 yards
• Congrats also go to Justine Tucker who is the youngest kicker in history to get to 1000 points. He is a special kicker and the Ravens are fortunate to have him on their team

.Game Predictions

Score      Ravens    27       Bengals 21          Ravens   23      Bengals   17
Turnovers         Plus 1                                              Even
Net Rushing Yardage       Ravens    170      Bengals 91          Ravens 269      Bengals   33
Net Passing Yardage      Ravens    250       Bengals 288          Ravens    228     Bengals   217

Miscellaneous Predictions

• Justice Hill has his biggest game of the season           Correct, 5 carries for 31 yards
• Hurst has 6 receptions for 74 yards            Incorrect, just one catch but I thought Andrews would sit
• Lamar will rush 11 times for 71 yards           Lamar ran 19 times for 152 yards
• Refs make terrible calls            Correct, missed a blatant hold on the opening kick off

Keys to the Game

• Win the turnover battle!           Correct, and I call being even a victory
• Pressure Dalton and get hands on him           Incorrect, Dalton had plenty of time
• Play ball control offense           Correct, Ravens had the ball twice as much as the Bengals

10/13/19 Bengals vs. Ravens

The Ravens host the hapless Bengals who come to Baltimore with a winless record of 0 and 5. The Red Rocket is not having a good year so far – and through 5 starts he has given up 4 interceptions and 3 fumbles. The Bengals Offensive line is awful and Dalton has been sacked 20 time already. Other than Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon he doesn’t really have any weapons to go to. AJ Green is out with an ankle injury, and John Ross who was off to a good start is now on injured reserve with a bad shoulder. It is hard to win in the NFL when your best skill players are on the sidelines. That said, for some reason we always seem to get the very best from Dalton and the Bengals. If the Ravens defense proves to be inept at putting pressure on Dalton, then I would imagine that they will move the ball through the air with some ease, even with that rag tag group of receivers. I have already seen what a 3rd string quarterback can do if he is given enough time. You have to wonder if the Ravens will make a move to get a legitimate pass rusher. The reality is Judon is good, but he is not a great pass rusher and if you watch the film most of his sacks (3) are because he doesn’t give up on the play.

The Ravens are coming off a huge win against the Steelers and they were fortunate to get it. The Steelers game did however expose how poor our offensive line played against a really good front four. Both Bozeman and Skura got knocked around and could not contain the pressure up the middle. The O line should be ok on Sunday, but it doesn’t bode well for them when they play teams like Seattle, New England and San Francisco. The secondary also struggled in coverage albeit the lack of pressure contributes to that. The Ravens also lost Tony Jefferson to a season ending injury which puts more pressure on an already banged up and beleaguered secondary. For all the talk about improving communications in the Ravens secondary, we haven’ seen it yet. I am interested to see how Clark and Elliott do filling in at the safety position– who knows perhaps they will perform better than Jefferson.

If the Ravens win Sunday, they will solidify their hold on the AFC North and put added pressure on the Browns and Steelers. They have to beat the Bengals at home because this is literally the easiest game on the schedule and keep in mind, they have some really tough games coming up in the middle half of the season. By the numbers the Bengals have owned the Ravens in recent years and have won 8 of last 11 games, but that was under Marvin and somehow, I think the tide is going to change for us. The Ravens offense should be able to the move the ball because the Bengals are 31st against the run and the Ravens are stout in the run game. The Ravens just need to pass enough to keep the Bengals honest and running the ball 35+ times should be the game plan on Sunday. I would love to see Edwards, Ingram and Jackson all have 10+ carries. If the Ravens can run and keep the chains moving, they will have another lopsided TOP game and will keep Dalton on the sidelines. This should be the recipe every week that you face a team that is poor against the run.

For you Maryland Terrapin fans this thought has perhaps crossed your mind. So far this season the Ravens have matched wins and losses with the Terps (W, W, L, L, W) so if our fate is inextricably tied to the Terps we will to root passionately for them this Saturday against the Boilermakers. To build a winning a season one of things that you do is win the games that you are supposed to win. Sunday’s game greatly favors the Ravens and they match up well against the Bengals. The Ravens need to play clean football and they cannot commit 12 penalties like they did last week, giving the Steelers 6 first downs on penalties and keeping their drives alive. The Ravens have to find a way to get pressure on Dalton, and if they can do that without leaving themselves vulnerable to the screen pass – they will win by 20 points. These are big “ifs” and quite honestly there is nothing to make you believe that is going to happen. That said, the Ravens offense should be able to control the ball and put together long drives and if they convert TDs in the red zone this game should be a walk away win. The odds makers have the Ravens by 10 ½ points and double-digit spreads are rare, I like the under here. The over/under is set at 48 and I like the under here is as well. Let’s hope that coaches make the right calls and play to the Raven’s strengths. Enjoy the game and stay thirsty my friends.

Baltimore Ravens hosting the Cincinnati Bengals    Sunday, October 13th at 1:05 PM       Odds Ravens by 10 ½

Game Predictions

Score       Ravens 27 Bengals 21
Turnovers       Plus 1
Net Rushing Yardage       Ravens    170      Bengals    91
Net Passing Yardage        Ravens    250      Bengals    288

Miscellaneous Predictions

• Justice Hill has his biggest game of the season
• Hurst has 6 receptions for 74 yards
• Lamar will rush 11 times for 71 yards
• Refs make terrible calls

Keys to the Game

• Win the turnover battle!
• Pressure Dalton and get hands on him
• Play ball control offense

10/6/19 Steelers vs. Ravens

The Ravens head to the Steel City Sunday to take on their arch rival. Steeler week typically provides a lot of excitement leading up to the game which often includes player comments, fan excitement, and pundits giving their expert opinions on the game, but this game will not have Suggs or Big Ben which for me makes it a little less interesting. To be sure though, the Steelers and the Ravens can’t stand each other and it has been long rumored that Tomlin can’t’ stand Harbaugh. Both teams will be amped up for the game and the fans will be enthusiastically waving their yellow towels. The stadium will be loud and proud creating difficulty for the Ravens offense. Lamar will have to make some big plays to help quiet the fans and take them out of the equation.

The Ravens are coming off a two-game skid where the defense has given up over a thousand yards and 73 points. The defense is ranked 27th overall in the league and 30th against the pass. It is clear that the Ravens don’t have the personnel to compete at the level that they did last year but if they are going to have any chance to succeed, they will have to improve from where they stand today. One thing that can be corrected, and I hope that it shows up this week – is their tackling. Technique and fundamentals can always be improved no matter who you are working with – so let’s hope Wink is getting that point across to his defense. The Ravens despite their losses to KC and Cleveland are still very much in control of their season. Wins Sunday in Pittsburg and next week at home against the Bengals would put them at four and two as well as a winning record in the division. It is all about winning the games that you are supposed to and that beings this Sunday. Ravens don’t want to lose three in a row and two straight in the AFC North, while on the other side the Steelers certainly do not want to lose at home and be sitting at one and four. If the Steelers lose Sunday it is hard to imagine they have any chance at the post season – and they know that. I know that it is only game five of the seasons but these games are setting up to be very important for both teams.

The Steelers are coming off a dominating win over the Cincinnati Bengals where they sacked Dalton eight times in the game. The Steelers defense looked fast and physical and Devin Bush, there first round pick at a number 10, is proving every bit as special as they thought he would be. With the Steelers very talented front four, Bush is able to roam freely making splash plays on a regular basis. Mason Rudolph, who took over at QB when Ben blew out his elbow, has played ok so far given his inexperience. The Steelers are running the ball a lot to help out Mason and no question they will work to establish the run on Sunday. If you watched the Steelers/Bengals game this past Monday you saw how creative the Steelers were in their run attack – using wild cat formations, receiver sweeps and various backfield alignments. I think you will see more of this against the Ravens.

Most years when I write about the Ravens going into Heinz Field, I don’t usually pick the Ravens to win. The Steelers are very good at home and have the benefit of playing to a packed stadium. That said, without Ben behind center it changes the dynamics of the game. Also, the Ravens have been able to run effectively this year and if the Steelers put 8 or even 10 in the box to stop the run, they you would hope that the offense could exploit them with quick slants, screens and crossing routes. In faith, I am going to say that the Ravens defense plays better Sunday and that they learned something over the past weeks. If that comes to fruition the Ravens should be able to contain Mason and the Steelers offense. Interestingly enough the odds makers have the Ravens by 3 ½ which indicates that they don’t believe in Mason being able to score enough to win. I can’t remember the last time the Ravens were favored in Pittsburgh. The Ravens will stop the skid and get the win in Pittsburg and at 3 ½ I think they cover. The over/under is 44.5 – I like the under here. Coaches Wink and Roman need to call a good game and respond to in-game circumstances – if they do this game goes purple. Enjoy the game and stay thirsty my friends.

Special Note: My schedule this Sunday will preclude me from watching the game live so my post-game recap will be days later if done at all.

Pittsburgh Steelers hosting the Baltimore Ravens – Sunday – October 4th @ 1:00 PM Odds – Ravens by 3 ½      Over/Under 44.5

Game Predictions

Score       Ravens    24       Steelers    20
Turnovers       Minus 1
Net Rushing Yardage       Ravens    134       Steelers 121
Net Passing Yardage        Ravens    267       Steelers 233

Miscellaneous Predictions

• Kevin Bush leads all tacklers with 9
• Lamar is sacked 3 times
• Harbaugh goes for two at least once
• Refs make terrible calls

Keys to the Game

  • Ravens TOP north of 34 minutes
  • Stop the Run < 75 yards
  • Get pressure on Mason
  • DO NOT give up big plays
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