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Author: Dan Gahagan

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

Ravens/Seahawks Post Game Recap

Baltimore Ravens get a big win in Seattle and did what many thought was beyond their reach. The deck was stacked against them and they responded with a brilliant game. Lamar Jackson and his ability to extend plays and to make big plays with his feet are a few of the reasons that the Ravens are having success. His allusiveness and creativity make anything possible even when it is third and long like we saw so many times today. Beating Russell Wilson on his home turf is a big deal and this game has to be a confidence builder for the Ravens and one you hope that they can build upon. Ravens protected the ball and the Seahawks did not -and that was the big difference today. Other thoughts on the game are detailed below.

• DeCosta is looking brilliant for trading to get Marcus Peters this past week. All he does is get a pick six on Russel Wilson who has not thrown an interception all year – absolutely brilliant!
• The opening drive from the Ravens was strong but they had to settle for three points when they got stuffed on 3rd and 2 when Stanley missed his block on Clowney who hit Edwards in the backfield
• Seeing Boykin get some action today was good to see and hopefully a sign of things to come
• Ravens kick return game is utterly nonexistent, when your best play is a fair catch or letting it go for a touchback – you pretty much suck
• I counted at least 4 or 5 big plays rendered by the Ravens defense but they did play tough in the red zone which kept the score close throughout the game
• Ravens defense gets two scores in this game and I don’t know many teams that can overcome that
• Judon got burned by Wilson when Judon cheated inside and let Wilson get around him for 8 yards which are mistakes that the Ravens have been making with some regularity this season
• Lockett is a great receiver and the Ravens kept him to just 60 yards on the day which is an achievement
• I counted drops by Hurst, Andrews (4), Snead, Roberts, today and Mark Andrews had a game that I think he will soon like to forget because he played like he had paddle hands today
• Red Zone trips by the Ravens. First – FG, Second – FG, Third – TD, Fourth – FG
• Ravens front four was again unable to apply any pressure on Russel Wilson and I am going to call out Judon, who is supposed to be our best – because he is a one trick pony who runs wide hoping that he can get the quarterback dropping back deep.
• Ravens struggled again today playing clean football getting called for 8 penalties for 75 yards
• Lamar threw a lot of passes low today which hurt his completion percentage, and the drops from his receiving group didn’t help either
• Apparently, the Refs hailed from the Seattle area because Seahawks got very few penalties called on them and none that really hurt them
• I am so sick and tired of receivers complaining after every simple play that they have been interfered with on their rout – and I have never seen it worse than with the Seahawks receivers. It seemed like on every incompletion the Seahawks receiver was whipping his head around looking for the Ref’s flag
• In the first half the Ravens could not get the Seahawks off the field on 3rd down but the second half was mostly Ravens and it kept Wilson from mounting any come back
• One play that caught my attention was when Trey Flowers hit Mark Andrews on a 3rd down pass and de-cleated him and Andrews was stopped dead in his tracks – which is saying something given his size
• The Seahawks did a decent job defending the run in the first half, and they had 8 in the box to stop it, but when you have Lamar in the mix – not many teams can stuff you all day long. With Hollywood out most teams are not worried about us throwing deep down field
• Lamar has to avoid having temper tantrums when things don’t go his way, most notably when Skura was slow to snap the ball causing a delay of game penalty – those outbursts will diminish with age and experience
• Harbaugh will get criticized for going for it on 4th and 2 yards with the score tied and I agree it is uncoventenal and generally ill advise, but when you have the speed and running skills of Lamar Jackson you are going to get tempted to do that more often
• Gus the Bus looked good today and I think one of things he did well was that he hit hole fast which seemed to produce better yardage. I like that Coach Roman started using Gus when Ingram seemed stymied
• Ravens rushed for 199 yards today and Lamar had another 100 rushing day which is spectacular
• L. J. Forte, who was unemployed just weeks ago, had a big game today with six tackles and two of them for a loss. Hard to believe that no one wanted this guy and now he is a big piece of our defense. The same could also be said for Bynes who also had a big day and registered 8 tackles
• The Ravens winning by 2 TDs and Lamar passing for just 141 yards seems incongruent

Game Predictions

Score      Ravens   23       Seahawks 31           Ravens   30      Seahawks   16
Turnovers            Minus 1                                         Plus 2
Net Rushing Yardage      Ravens  172       Seahawks   112         Ravnes   199    Seahawks 106
Net Passing Yardage       Ravens   230       Seahawks   311         Ravens   141       Seahawks   241

Miscellaneous Predictions

• Wilson passes for over 300 yards, and runs for over 40 yards            No and No
• Ravens are down by two scores by the end of the first quarter             Nope, they were tied
• Lamar rushes for over 100 yards for the second straight game             Correct, he ran for 116
• Refs make terrible calls            Correct, several and some blatant misses

Keys to the Game

• Run the ball and burn the clock – Keep Russel on the sidelines TOP was even on the day, but Ravens dominated the second half
• Don’t give up the big plays             No, they gave up more than you would like to see
• TDs in the RedZone – FGs won’t cut it            No, offense had 3 FGs but they had 2 defensive scores
• Play clean football             No, they had 8 penalties of which a few negated big plays

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

Ravens/Browns Post Game Recap

Congratulations to the Cleveland Browns who came into a hostile stadium and absolutely dominated the Ravens in this game. They racked up 531 yards and 40 points and they also take over first place in the AFC North which they deserve based on their play today. The Ravens defense got absolutely man handled today and I think you are seeing a defense that is absolutely lost. This for me will be the game of “blown coverages” and “missed tackles” and “no pass rush” The Ravens defense was so bad Wink put different guys out there to play in the second half. They gave up several big yardages plays today; I think there were 3 over 50 yards which tells you there are problems. The signing of Earl Thomas looks like a mistake to me after these first 4 games. Getting beat that bad at home has to create some shudders in the Castle. The Ravens were out coached and Kitchens exploited every weakness and tendency in the Ravens defense. I know I am on a rant here – but I was shocked at much stronger and faster the Browns looked when compared to the Ravens. This is going to be a long week for the Ravens as they assess how bad they played at home. Other thoughts on the game are listed below:

• Lamar was unable to lead the offense today to a victory and as a young QB he is going to need time to develop. When under pressure he has problems seeing the field and he too often stares down receivers down – so fans will have to be patient with him. Mistakes are going to come as you saw today but he will get better
• After getting within 6 points of the Browns the Ravens defense give up an 88-yard run by Chubb’s which was a knife in the heart to the Ravens comeback hopes and ultimately sealed the game for the Browns
• Today was a bad day for Ravens receivers who had 3 drops today
• McPhee and Wormley both blocked passes today which we need to see more, especially when you have no pass rush whatsoever – and I do mean absolutely none
• Down by 7 points Ingram’s fumble in the 3rd quarter which was the first turnover of the season for the Ravens was a costly one with Ravens on the 26-yard line and on the move to score
• Bozeman got blown back by the Cleveland front several times during the game and he was so bad in protection that I actually think the Ravens might have to look at other options as he can’t protect worth a lick. He was decent in the run game though
• Ravens Pass rush and pressure was absent after the first series of the game which put a lot of pressure on the coverage team who were not up to the challenge
• Almost from the beginning of the game things looked chippy between the teams – with lots of shoving after the whistle. I don’t think they like each other.
• Humphries who covered Beckham today did an outstanding job keeping him to 2 reception and 20 yards
• The middle of the field was open all day for the Browns today and they took advantage of it.
• Browns dominated the 1st quarter and their second possession was an impressive drive 8 1/5 minute that showed success on the ground and the air
• One has to wonder if the Ravens secondary coach is in trouble as the Browns had many plays today where the receivers were wide open with no one close. This is now three weeks in a row where we have been saying there are communications problems
• Mark Andrews dropped one today that was right in his hands, and as much as I Iove him I have to admit that it was dropped in part because he had alligator arms – and was really surprised to see that from him
• The Browns front four brought their A game today and the Ravens O line struggled to protect – giving up 4 sacks today
• The Browns secondary which was full of second stringers was able to hold the Ravens air attack to just 19 yards in the first half. Hats off to their secondary that did an amazing jot containing the Ravens air attack
• When Baker has time he can absolutely shred the secondary which he did to today as he put on a clinic for the Ravens. He was 20 of 30 for 343 yards and 1 TD.
• Browns Offensive Line did a great job against the Ravens front seven and they were able to run effectively
• It will be interesting if the pundits call this point out, but I thought the Ravens defense did a poor job tacking today and I saw on several occasions where the first and second man could not bring down the Browns player. Example – Landry gets a 10-yard pass and Jefferson, Peanut and Thomas all fail to bring him down and the play goes for 62 yards setting the Browns up for a late half score. This is so uncharacteristic for a Ravens defense
• Brandon Williams was a late scratch to play today and given how many yards the Ravens gave up on the ground you have to wonder how valuable he is in the middle
• It was nice to see Boykin get a TD today and be a part of the offense
• Refs absolutely missed the spot on the ball when the Browns were inside the 10 – and amazingly the crew in NY agreed – this is awful officiating
• One bright spot in the Ravens secondary was the play of Canady who had an interception and defended pass in key RedZone play that kept the Browns out of the end zone
• Landry had a big day for the Browns with 6 receptions and 126 yards in the first half alone, finishing with 167 yards on the day until he left with a concussion
• Special teams were solid today especially on kick coverage, keeping the Browns inside the 20 several times today
• The Ravens did keep their penalties down today committing just 3 for 15 yards
• Ravens running game was very good today but the Browns running game was better

Game Predictions

Score      Ravens    26      Browns 20                                                Ravens    25      Browns    40
Turnovers      Plus 1                                                                                                   Minus 2
Net Rushing Yardage      Ravens    170     Browns    110                             Ravens    173      Browns    193
Net Passing Yardage      Ravens    288     Browns    263                              Ravens    222      Browns    337

Miscellaneous Predictions

• Chubb gets 19 carries for 93 yards          Make that 20 carries and 165 yards
• Judon gets a sack and one PF penalty        Nope
• Lamar throws his first pick of the season        Correct, and make that 2 picks
• Refs make terrible calls                                   Correct

Keys to the Game

• Protect the rock                                            Nope – 3 for the day
• Play ball control football and keep Mayfield on the sidelines           Nope, Browns win TOP
• Stop the run and make them one dimensional           Nope, Ravens could not stop anything

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