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Month: November 2019

12/1/19 Ravens vs. 49ers

The 9-2 Ravens bring their seven-game winning streak home to defend the 10-1 San Francisco 49ers. The Niners only loss came on November 11th when they lost at home to the Seahawks in a close one. This figures to be the best NFL match up of the weekend and it surprises me that the NFL did not flex this game to 4:30 as these teams are the best of their respective conferences. San Francisco has been dominant from the start of the season and many of the pundits kept waiting for them to come back to earth, but their stifling defense and exceptional running game have proven to be a lethal combination for their opponents. To put this Niners defense in perspective – they are giving up a miserly 248 yards per game and their secondary is the best in the league giving up just 137 yards which is ranked first by a margin of 21 ypg. In contrast, the Ravens give up a 100 more passing yards per game. Statistically, the Ravens are not a top ten defense, but they are playing like one of late – and I think they will be in the top ten before the season ends. All the changes the Ravens have made over the past two months on the defensive side have them better and they seem to be improving week over week.

Sunday’s game will tell you a lot about how good the Ravens offense really is as compared to the rest of the league. In my opinion the Niners have the very best defense in the league and not just because they are ranked as number one but because they can overwhelm their opponents with pressure and speed. While I think that the Patriots defense is very good – I don’t think they have anywhere near the same talent in the front seven. I expect the Niners to come into M&T Stadium with a lot of confidence and with something to prove – they won’t come here looking nervous because they will be ready with their A game. They showed no nerves against Rogers and the Packers last week and thumped them 37 – 8 in Lambeau.

The Ravens offense is rolling on all cylinders and so far they have proven that they can run and score on anyone – and I do mean anyone. Some of the best defensive minds in the NFL have not been able to stop this Ravens offense and at this point in the season they have plenty of tape to look at to figure it out. Lamar Jackson is multi-talented and when you have to account for him in the backfield it limits your ability to plug holes – and so far no one has found the key to stopping this offense. With an outstanding secondary, the Ravens best chance to move the ball will be on the ground where the Niners are ranked 19th against the run and 25th for yards per carry rendered. If the Ravens play the way they have the past month they should have 200 plus yards on the gound. I expect them to pound the ball between the tackles and to run off the edges when they have daylight.

As we all know, the Ravens went to LA last week and they humiliated the Rams at home beating them senseless. The Ravens coaches have done a brilliant job game planning these past many weeks and they will need their best Sunday to beat San Francisco. Football is a simple game and it is often won in the trenches. The Ravens O line is a bit dinged up and with Skura done for the season so you do worry a bit about how they will hold up against the Niners front four. The Ravens will run the ball with lots of formations and hopefully keep the Niners off balance. Coach Roman is smart and he will take what he is given and hopefully that will equate to long sustained drives that end in touch downs. The Ravens defense will work to stop the run and to keep Garoppolo confused to the coverages and if they can do this, they will get an interception or two by the end. I can’t wait to watch this game because it really does pitch the best offense against the best defense – and in those game something will have to give. I am betting on the Ravens to prevail in this game and so are the odds makers who have the Ravens by 5 points because the Ravens have the better offense and thus far have been able to score on everyone. The over under is set at 46, I like the Ravens to cover the 5 on the spread and since my prediction totals 46 points I will say take the over. Enjoy the game and stay thirsty my friends.

Baltimore Ravens hosting the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, December 1st at 1:00 PM Odds Ravens by 5

Game Predictions

Score              Ravens   27    Niners   19
Turnovers           Plus 1
Net Rushing Yardage       Ravens    221      Niners    111
Net Passing Yardage        Ravens    174       Niners    178

Miscellaneous Predictions

• Marcus Peters continues his solid play with another interception
• Judon gets a sack and blocked pass
• Ingram has two TDs
• Refs make terrible calls

Keys to the Game

• Stop the Niners run game
• Run the ball and dominate TOP
• Convert in the RedZone
• Win win win the turn over battle

Ravens/Bengals Post Game Recap 11-10-19

The Ravens came out fast and furious getting on the board quickly setting the tone for the day. There was no indication of a let down game from the Ravens, especially from the offense. Sam Koch pretty much had the day off and didn’t see the field except for extra point holds and his one lone punt with a minute left in the game. The game seemed in hand once the Ravens had a two-touchdown lead. With the this victory the Ravens keep the 2-game lead on the Steelers. One thing I didn’t like in this game was how well the Bengals offense moved the ball, converted on 3rd downs and stayed on the field. I know it might seem overly critical to point this out when your defense creates 3 turnovers and two of them for scores, but this game will serve as notice to upcoming opponents that you can run on this Ravens defense. If the Bengals had made some better play calls in certain situations, I think they could have easily scored over 25 points. Other thoughts on the game are detailed below:

• Uncharacteristically the Ravens had possession of the ball for a mere 24 minutes today, which is just shocking
• Crowd noise was a non-issue in this game, it sounded more like a high school football game
• Opening drive for the Ravens 5 plays, 1 run, 4 passes and 7 points. Ravens sending the message early to the Bengals if you load the box we will throw down field
• On the second drive the Ravens go for it on 4th and 3 getting it done on a short pass to Andrews to keep the drive alive. Instead of punting in that situation the Ravens keep it going and the drive culminates in their second touchdown
• Ravens run defense looked very soft today especially since they were facing the worst run offense in the league. Ravens gave up way too many yards after first contact and gave up 102 yards on the ground in the first half alone – as the Bengals had 5.8 yards per carry – how does that happen?
• Harbaugh really had the players ready today as they came out fast getting out to an early lead let’s the players play loose
• Today should have been National Tight End Day as the Ravens tight ends collected 12 catches, 151 yards and 2 TDs
• Peanut lost his jock on one play with Mixon juking right past him for a gain of 23 yards
• Ravens defense did not tackle well today and I saw many plays where the Bengals runner got yards after contact. I would have like to seen more defenders swarming to the ball – to many one on one tackles where no help came quickly
• Marcus Peters got his second pick six today for the Ravens which is making GM DeCosta look like a genius. I hope that Peters has a few more of those in the tank before this season ends
• Jimmy Smith did not have his best day as he missed a few tackles and looked pretty soft in coverage
• The second half opening drive by the Bengals looked like it was going to end in another score and Bengals fumbled with Thomas getting the recovery
• Finley did a great job scrambling out of the pocket and had some really nice runs against the Ravens front
• Today was yet another game with absolutely little to no pressure from the Ravens on the quarterback
• Judon was playing with some fire today and was the only one who looked like he played with any intensity
• Coach Horton has to step up his game with special teams. Other than the kicking game, coverage is weak, and return game is lack luster. Also, how can the Ravens special teams be offsides twice in a game, this is unacceptable? Coach Horton is not going to be here in 2020 if doesn’t show some improvement in the second half of the season
• Lamar Jackson’s 47-yard TD run in the 3rd quarter was an amazing run and his acceleration coming out of his jukes and spins is why he can outrun the defenders around him
• Ravens linebackers had a lot of trouble filling the running gaps as well as coverage in the crossing routes
• Great play by Bowser who scooped the fumble from Ricard’s hit on Finley and took it to the house. This is a nice trend we are seeing from the Ravens defense who seem to know what to do when the get ball on turn overs
• For what it is worth the Bengals out rushed the Ravens today, had more first downs, and dominated TOP – but lost by a million
• Ravens scored seven touch downs and no field goals today – can’t remember the last time that I saw that happen

Game Predictions
Score      Ravens    31     Bengals    19                               Ravens    49      Bengals   13
Turnovers      Plus 2                                                                               Plus 2
Net Rushing Yardage      Ravens    228      Bengals    88                       Ravens   136     Bengals   157
Net Passing Yardage      Ravens    231       Bengals    188                   Ravens   243     Bengals   150

Miscellaneous Predictions

• Gus carries 9 times for 52 yards          Nope, just 4 carries and 17 yards
• Peanut leads all tacklers with 9           Nope, not even close – just two on the day
• Peters get his second interception            Correct, and for a TD
• Refs make terrible calls                     Correct, they ignored the holding call

Keys to the Game

• Don’t turn the ball over and you win!          Correct, two plus in the TOs
• Run 30+ times and dominate TOP                    Incorrect, just 24 rushes on the day
• Rattle the Rookie and force mistakes                Correct, fumbled and threw an interception

11/10/19 Ravnes vs. Bengals

The Ravens take their four-game winning streak on the road to face the winless Cincinnati Bengals who are in the midst of their worst season in recent history. You have to wonder if Marvin Lewis is sitting at home having a little snicker at the woes of this Bengals team. Sunday’s game will feature the first career start for Ryan Finley who was the 4th round draft pick for the Bengals this past May. With the season virtually over, the Bengals have decided to bench the veteran Dalton in favor of the rookie Finley to see what he can do as well as to give him some game experience when there is very little on the line. Personally, I think this is great move and gives the Bengals an opportunity to audition their new draft pick to see if he has the skill and metal to make it in the NFL. For those of you unfamiliar with Finley, he was the fifth highest graded QB in the draft and was the 6th QB taken in the 2019 draft. He played for both Boise State and North Carolina, and while he doesn’t have the strongest arm from this year’s QB class – he is touted as being an accurate passer that has good field vision. He did well in preseason and looked poised when he was on the field. That said, the regular season is a far cry from preseason so we will have to see how well Finley adjusts to the speed and complexity of an NFL game.

The Ravens are stacking wins and they need to keep the winning streak going so they can keep the Steelers chasing. The Steelers have found new life behind a good defense and serviceable offense. With their win Sunday, the Steelers are now at 4 and 4, and their schedule for the next eight games looks pretty light. Except for the Rams and Ravens, the Steelers have a cream puff schedule and they have a decent chance to be in the playoff hunt come December. The Ravens on the other hand will have some very tough opponents down the stretch and it is hard to imagine that they will win them all. After the Bengals, they will see Texans, Rams, Niners and Bills – oh my. I bring this all up just to say that the Ravens need to take care of business to maintain their lead in the division – which begins with beating the Bengals Sunday and showing the same energy that they showed against the Pats. To use an oft used sports cliché, “you have to win the games you are supposed to” – and that begins Sunday. The Bengals game, in my opinion, is the easiest game on their remaining schedule. They need to focus on the game in front of them and not look past anyone. I am always nervous when the Ravens have a big win, because they sometimes take the foot off the pedal and let inferior teams get the better of them. I want to see them play like their hair is on fire.

By the numbers, the game Sunday should be a beat down. Here is the good, the bad and ugly for the Bengals

The Good:

Coming off a bye week & playing on the home turf
Possibly getting your star receiver AJ Green back on the field, as well as some others on defense
One of the best Special Teams play in the league
Bengals are 11 and 3 at home against the Ravens

The Bad:

Ranked dead last against the run, and playing the number one ranked rushing offense
Ranked dead last is rushing offense at 59.7 ypg, and playing the number two rushing defense

The Ugly:

Offense averages just 15.5 points per game
Defense has only 9 sacks so far this year – only Atlanta has less

If I was game planning the Bengals, I would use the same formula that was used three weeks ago. Run the ball down their throats 40+ times and run up he score early. I would run Ingram, Edwards and Hill hard and if they are effective, I would limit Lamar’s runs to keep him fresh down the road. The Ravens are facing a rookie quarterback and should be able to pressure him and force him into some mistakes. If the Ravens are not plus two in the turnover category for this game, I will be disappointed. One concern to take note is that teams that beat the Patriots routinely have a terrible record the following game. Bengals are 6 and 3 against the Ravens at home, but that was with Marvin at the helm, and Flacco under center who always had a tough time beating the Bengals. It just feels different now with the Bengals and that is good thing.

Coach Harbaugh is a smart guy and I have no doubts he will make sure his team is ready to play. Bengals are getting some guys back this Sunday and that will make them a tougher opponent. The Ravens are likely going to play to a partially filled stadium, and you will hear the Ravens Nation during big plays. Crowd noise should not be an issue whatsoever for the Ravens offense. I expect the Bengals to come out running to help Finley get comfortable and to keep him steady. Ravens will have to be ready to stop the run and force the Bengals to beat them in the air. As the Bengals have nothing to lose, I would not be surprised if they faked kicks and punts, go for it on 4th down, and make some deep throws down the field. Taking risks should not be an obstacle for them given their record. The Ravens will stay the course that has carried them to this point – run the ball, burn the clock and execute in the RedZone. Play clean football and don’t hurt yourself with penalties. If they do that and protect the ball this game should be over by the end of the 3rd quarter. Hopefully, the Ravens special teams will not give up any big plays this time. The odds makers have the Ravens by 10 points with the over/under set at 45. I like the Ravens in this game to cover and I like the over in points. Enjoy the game and stay thirsty my friends.

Baltimore Ravens hosted by the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday, November 10th at 1:00 PM                 Odds    Ravens by 10

Game Predictions

Score      Ravens    31      Bengals    19
Turnovers                    Plus 2
Net Rushing Yardage      Ravens    228       Bengals    88
Net Passing Yardage       Ravens    231       Bengals    188

Miscellaneous Predictions

• Gus carries 9 times for 52 yards
• Peanut leads all tacklers with 9
• Peters get his second interception
• Refs make terrible calls

Keys to the Game

• Don’t turn the ball over and you win!
• Run 30+ times and dominate TOP
• Rattle the Rookie and force mistakes

Ravens/Patriiots Post Game Recap

The league is on notice now as the Ravens beat the undefeated Patriots and they did so in defining fashion. Football is very much a game of momentum and the team that can hold on to that the longest usually wins. Tonight’s game was a great example of how this plays out in a game. With the Ravens absolutely dominating the Patriots in the first 20 minutes of the game, the unthinkable happens and Cyrus Jones who is usually very sure handed gets a case of the yips and coughs up the ball deep in Ravens territory. An absolute back breaker mistake that seemed to deflate the Ravens mojo for the rest of the 1st half. The Ravens overcame this adversity and fought to get their game back on track. And although the Pats fought back to make it close, the Ravens never let them take the lead. Long drives that ended in TDs was why the Ravens won this one outright. Keep in mind that 10 of the Patriots points were from the Ravens two turnovers. Other thoughts on the game are detailed below:

• Opening drive for the Ravens was well played and the TD run by Lamar was brilliantly executed as once Patrick Ricard put the lumber on the defensive end there was no one on the field that was going to beat Lamar to the edge
• Ravens held the ball for 37 minutes and if you can do that you are typically going to win the game
• You could see Brady’s frustration tonight being stuck on the bench and having no way to impact the game
• The Patriots jumping offsides inside the 10-yard line was uncharacteristic and was costly for them – giving the Ravens a first down
• The Ravens had the ball for almost 13 minutes of the 1st quarter, which by the way is the best way to keep Brady from beating you
• The Ravens used some great blocking schemes throughout the game which kept the Pats off kilter, and I can’t say enough for how well the Ravens O line performed
• Cyrus Jones killed the game momentum with his muffed punt early in the second quarter and it helped the Patriots back in the game – so crucial that you play all three phases of the game well
• Brady is the dink and dunk King, and there is no one in the world that can do that better than him
• The Patriots first TD to Sanu was clearly an illegal pick and the Refs missed that call completely
• With 1:43 left in the 2nd quarter the Pats went 80 yards but they had to settle for a FG
• Humphrey’s PF helmet to helmet on Ben Watson was a stupid play and shortened the field for the Pats on final drive of the half – he has to play smarter
• The Ravens defense did a good job holding the Pats to FGs in the first half which is no small task
• Sanu had a big game against the Ravens secondary with 10 receptions and 81 yards
• Ravens did not throw downfield much which kept the Pats playing 8 in the box much of the game
• Peanut forcing the ball out on Edelman early in the 3rd quarter which Humphrey took to the house was huge especially given how well the Pats were moving the ball on their opening drive
• The Ravens kept only 4 defensive linemen for this game and it really hurt them in the second half when the Pats did played hurry up offense which they did for most of the game
• The Refs missed some egregious holding calls on the Patriots O line
• Teams are learning that if you can kick it short of the goal line, they can pin the Ravens back inside the 20-yard line, because we have no return game whatsoever
• Lamar continues to have trouble going through his reads and finding the second and third receivers
• Lamar’s ability to create something out of nothing with his legs is why the Ravens are doing so well on converting 3rd downs
• The Ravens offense answering the Patriots TD in the 3rd quarter was key because the defense was really gassed and the eight-minute drive was what was needed
• Tucker missing the extra point would have to happen when we are playing the Patriots
• Josh Bynes had a primo opportunity to get a pick six but it was not meant to be
• What a game for Nick Boyle who made some big plays and he also got his first career TD which is unbelievable that it has taken this long
• I don’t think I have ever seen Coach Belichick so heated on the sidelines as I did this evening – the man was genuinely pissed off
• You don’t see many games where the Patriots make costly penalties but this game was an exception to the rule
• How about the Ravens secondary who didn’t get any PI penalties, can’t remember that last time I have seen that happen
• How about the Ravens defense, and specifically Humphrey, who has scored in back to back games

Enjoy the game and stay thirsty my friends.

Game Predictions
Score      Ravens    24      Patriots    23          Ravens   37      Patriots   20
Turnovers     Minus 1                                            Even
Net Rushing Yardage      Ravens    121      Patriots    94          Ravens   210      Patriots   74
Net Passing Yardage      Ravens    186      Patriots    244          Ravens   162     Patriots   268

Miscellaneous Predictions

• Edelman leads all receivers in both receptions and yards          Correct, 10 catches for 89 yards
• McCourty gets one pick             Nope, no INTs
• Lamar runs for < 60 year           Incorrect, Lamar had 61 yards

• Refs make terrible calls           Correct, missed the illegal pick

Keys to the Game

Convert on 3rd down and move the chains           Correct, they were 5 of 10

Pressure Brady up the middle                                      Sort of

No turnovers/Minimize penalties <6                       Correct, only 4 penalties for 34 yards

11//3/19 Ravens vs. Patriots

After a much-needed bye week the Ravens return home to play the undefeated New England Patriots who have mowed down their competition through the first 8 weeks of the season. Belichick’s defense is putting together historic numbers and they are on pace to have one of the best defenses in NFL history. That said, they have played only one team with a winning record, and in fact the combined record of their opponents is 14 wins and 44 losses which is a paltry .318 winning percentage. Except for the Buffalo game – it is safe to say that the Patriots have not really been tested much this season. What does get my attention statistically – is that the Patriots are plus 17 in the turnover category and they lead the league in quarterback sacks – and just about every other category for that matter. Even with subpar competition on the other side of the ball, by any measure these are impressive numbers and something that should give concern to the Ravens offense. Their secondary is perhaps the best in the league.

What makes the Patriots such a successful team is that they have Brady under center and they have the best head coach in the NFL preparing them each Sunday. It is no secret that Coach Belichick game plans to neutralize your best offensive weapon, and you have to concede that he is very good at it. Lamar Jackson will likely have his hands full dealing with the pressure and tenacity of the Patriots defense. Belichick is going to try and take away Lamar’s run game. I would expect to see eight to ten in the box to stop the run, as well as having a spy on Lamar to keep him from running free. Belichick is going to make Lamar beat him with his arm. Personally, I can’t wait to watch this game to see how Belichick works to stop Lamar from running effectively. If Belichick does stop Lamar on the ground it will unfortunately show the rest of league how to go about it, but let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

The Ravens are excited to play the Patriots and they don’t won’t have any fear when they face them Sunday evening. They have played them well over the years and the Patriots know that they will be in a fight. This is Lamar’s first time playing against the Patriots so that will provide a new twist to the contest. For the record, Belichick has won 24 straight games when he has faced a quarterback under the age of 24 – so if Lamar wins Sunday, he will break a 24-game winning streak for the Hoody.

The Patriots offense is looking average this year and offensive statistics bear this out, but Brady is still very good even at 42. The key for the Ravens defense is to get Brady out of the pocket and on the move. If Williams and Pierce can get some push up the middle it would disrupt Brady’s ability to step up into the pocket as well as clog up some of the throwing lanes. Brady’s favorite play is hitting Edelman running on a slant, and he can hit these all day long with great accuracy. At 5’ 10” Edelman is one of the toughest players in the NFL. I don’t know which CB will be put on Edelman, but it will be important for them to hit him off line and keep him from getting these quick passes. If they can accomplish that they will take a big piece out of the Patriots playbook.

The Ravens offense facing this Patriots defense will tell us a great deal about how good they are. The Ravens are very good when coming off the bye week and they generally play well at home. Having the extra week to game plan for the Patriots is a big deal and hopefully shows up on the field. This is a winnable game for the Ravens but it means they play have to protect the ball, play penalty free and play ball control offense. The defense has to play disciplined football and it would be best if they don’t get too amped up and go for big splash plays. They just need to do their job – hold the edge, stay in their lane, cover their part of the field – and if they do those things, they will be fine. I worry if they play over aggressively, they will give up big sweep plays, big screens and let somebody get past the coverage. To quote Coach Belichick, “do your job”.

Ravens get back Brown and Smith for this game which is great news for the team. Having Brown helps stretch the field and may help keep the defensive backs from cheating towards the line of scrimmage. Smith being added to the secondary will give the defense some options and will help to keep the other CBs a bit fresher. The Ravens love the big games and will want to show they are up to the challenge. Vegas has the Patriots by 3 points and the over under is set at 45. I think the Ravens win this in a tight one – perhaps with a game winning kick by Tucker. Enjoy the game and stay thirsty my friends.

New England Patriots hosted by the Baltimore Ravens – November 3rd at 8:20 pm
Odds – Patriots by 3

Game Predictions

Score      Ravens    24       Patriots    23
Turnovers             Minus 1
Net Rushing Yardage      Ravens    121        Patriots    94
Net Passing Yardage       Ravens    186        Patriots    244

Miscellaneous Predictions

Edelman leads all receivers in both receptions and yards
McCourty gets one pick
Lamar runs for < 60 year

Refs make terrible calls

Keys to the Game

• Convert on 3rd down and move the chains

• Pressure Brady up the middle

• No turnovers/Minimize penalties <6

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