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Category: The 2018-2019 Season

12/16/18 Bucs vs. Ravens Pregame

Sunday’s opponent seems eerily similar to the past several games that the Ravens have been played in – a high flying offense with an impressive passing game. Also, the Bucs are similar to the Chiefs, Falcons, and Raiders in that they have a bottom third ranked defense. All this means that Lamar has yet to face a legitimate defensive team in his early weeks as a starter. I count that as exceptionally good fortune as rookies need all the breaks that they can get in the NFL. To be fair though the Bucs defense has been much better in recent weeks and their front four is pretty good at getting after the quarterback – Lamar will need to have eyes in the back of his head on Sunday and will need to have some pocket awareness to avoid making turnovers.

The wounded Ravens secondary will again be challenged this week to take on some of the league’s best receivers as almost all of our cornerbacks have some kind of injury. It helps that the Ravens are deep with CBs this year and just about all them are getting snaps on Sunday. While the secondary has been a patch work at times – they have held up pretty well against some of the league’s best. The Ravens had better keep tabs of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as they are very talented receivers and are capable of big plays. The Ravens catch a break this week in that DeSean Jackson is out with a thumb injury. As in recent games the secondary has to keep the game in front of them and avoid the big yardage plays. The Ravens front four has done a good job in recent weeks and they need to keep that going. QB pressure is the best help that you can give to your secondary. A hurried QB is prone to errant throws and to making mistakes – all of which we will want to see from Winston this Sunday. Bucs are the currently the number one offense in the league with 446 yards per game, and are the leading passing team with 347 yards per game. The weather forecast shows that it will be wet so it will be interesting to see how that affects the game.

Sunday’s game is a must win to stay in the hunt for the playoffs, and as it stands today with several AFC teams in the hunt –it appears that our best chance to get to the post season is for us to win the AFC North. A month ago that seemed highly unlikely but today there is some hope as the Steelers have faltered in recent weeks. Let’s all hope that the Steelers fall to the Pats on Sunday. The Ravens game plan on Sunday will be exactly what you have seen for the past four weeks – lots of run options and enough passes to keep the safeties from pressing the line of scrimmage. The injuries in the Ravens secondary is disconcerting but I am hoping that they are healthy enough to keep the Bucs from racking up too many successful drives. The Ravens defense needs to force some turnovers and make this game uphill for the Bucs. If the Ravens can run successfully and burn the clock on their drives, they can beat the Bucs and keep their opponent’s offense on the sidelines. Vegas has the Ravens by 7 ½ but I would be surprised if they cover that. The over/under is set at 46 ½ points and like the over. Enjoy the game and stay thirsty my friends.

Tampa Bay Bucs hosted by the Baltimore Ravens – December 16th at 1:00 pm
Odds – Ravens by 7 ½

Game Predictions
Score         Ravens 27      Bucs 23
Turnovers         Plus 2
Net Rushing Yardage         Ravens 177      Bucs 68
Net Passing Yardage          Ravens 186      Bucs 243

Miscellaneous Predictions
• Ravens get 2 interceptions
• Lamar/Edwards/Dixon each have over 65 yards rushing
• Judon gets two sacks one of them a strip
• Refs make terrible calls

Possible Monday morning headlines in the Sun Papers
• Ravens sit atop the AFC North

Keys to the Game
• Run the ball and burn the clock
• Pressure Winston and force mistakes
• Protect the Rock!

Ravens/Chiefs Post Game Recap

For sixty minutes in regulation the Ravens played toe to toe with the best offense in the NFL. They hung in there all day and played their hearts out. The Ravens were up by seven points with 57 seconds left in the game when they gave up the tying score. You have to give a great deal of credit to Andy Reid and Pat Mahomes to drive the field and convert on two 4th down plays. An absolutely brilliant game played by both teams but only one could win today – and that was Kansas City Chiefs in overtime. The Ravens came up short today but have nothing to be ashamed in terms of their play. The officiating was suspect today and went very much in KCs favor. Ravens were penalized 11 times for 112 yards which is their worst penalized game of the year. The timing of some of those penalties were killers to the Ravens and I hate to see that happen in well played games. It is hard to believe that the Ravens almost won that game with 123 passing yards – simply amazing. Other thoughts on today’s game are below:

• I didn’t like the Ravens deferring to the Chiefs to open the game, I thought they should have taken the ball and burned the clock right away. As it worked out though, the Chiefs did have to punt after a 25-yard drive stalled
• Mark Andrews had two drops today and one of them cost the Ravens a first down – this was a surprise for him because he had been so reliable in past games
• Tyree Hill has crazy speed and he was a challenge for the Ravens who had trouble getting their hands on him. His catch on 4th and nine shows you why the Chiefs are 11 and 2
• Suggs whiffed on hitting Mahomes a few times when he was right in front of him – so close but couldn’t wrap him up
• Kelce was so important to the KC offense today and was a main target on 3rd down – and as expected the Ravens could not cover him. Kelce has a unique catch radius that is makes him tough to stop
• Humphrey’s groin must have really been bothering him today because he was grabbing receivers on their routes for most of the day. He got away with it several times
• Crabtree has been disappointing at times with his drops, but I have been so impressed with his downfield blocking for run plays – he plays hard and doesn’t shy from engaging with the defender
• The Ravens front seven was really bringing it in the first half and they gave maximum effort
• KC did a nice adjusting to the run game and it didn’t give up the six and seven yard runs like they did in the first half and it forced the Ravens to throw and the pass protection was not that great.
• The roughing the passer penalty call on Peanut when he tackled Mahomes on a run/pass option was just flat out wrong
• When the Chiefs converted on 3rd and 19 and it included a missed tackle, a missed sack. That play was a knife in the heart of the Ravens defense who had played so tough
• On Chris Moore’s big kickoff return = two not one knucklehead holds on the return costing the Ravens 30+ yards in field position
• There is a reason that the Ravens have not had an interception since week 5 – it is because the defense does not play the ball and most of the time have their back is to the quarterback. They did get an interception today but that was only because it was badly overthrown and Clark was playing centerfield which made it easy
• Penalties were costly today for the Ravens and cost them on both sides of the ball
• Chris Moore has to make that play for a TD on the Raven first possession in the second half – you cannot drop that ball period
• When the Ravens went for it on 4th and one and failed, I really thought they should have done a QB sneak. Also, If I was going to use a running back – I would have preferred Edwards to Dixon because I think Edwards hits the hole faster which is what you need in short yardage. Also, for the record, Gus Edwards has not had a negative run in almost 100 carries
• You have to tip your hat to Pat Mahomes – this guy is an incredible talent and he can do things that no other quarterback can do in the league – and keep in mind this guy is just getting started
• Not sure I would have the guts to go for it on 4th and two – but the pass to Williams for a TD was a brilliant call and a great effort to get to the pylon
• Chuck Clark has played ok in Jefferson’s absence but he cannot tackle well and gave up a lot of extra yards to the Chiefs with missed tackles
• Congrats to the Ravens defense for holding the Chiefs scoreless in the 3rd quarter. It certainly helped that the Ravens held the ball for 11 minutes
• Ravens gave up some of their biggest plays to the Chiefs when it was 3rd and long – go figure
• Lamar had a case of the worm burner throws today – got to get them up a little there
• KC did a nice job on the edge and did not give up a lot of yards on the end
• Cyrus Jones had a 57-yard run back at one of the biggest points in the game and he did it against the toughest special team coverage in the league
• There we so many plays where the Ravens were a Nano second too late to make the play and several of them could have been the difference in the game
• The Ravens defense looked really tired in overtime and they were fortunate to keep the Chiefs to three points in their opening possession
• The strip sack on Lamar could have ended the game in regulation but thankfully their kicker whiffed. By the way, you are going to see more of those in the future until he better learns the game
• It would have been a huge moment for the Ravens if Snead had held onto that throw from RGIII and might have ended in a tie or perhaps win, but instead the Ravens lose on downs

Game Predictions                                                                               Game Statistics
Score      Ravens 23      Chiefs 30                                                     Ravens 24        Chiefs 27
Turnovers      Plus 1                                                                                    Even
Net Rushing Yardage      Ravens 201        Chiefs 84           Ravens 198      Chiefs 94
Net Passing Yardage      Ravens 198         Chiefs 325           Ravens 123       Chiefs 347

Miscellaneous Predictions
• Kelce has 8 receptions for 93 yards       7 receptions for 77 yards
• Ravens commit 10 penalties for 95 yards       11 penalties for 112 yards
• Ravens get their 1st pick since week 5        Correct, Chuck Clark got one
• Refs make terrible calls                       Correct, worst officiated game of the year in my opinion

Possible Monday morning headlines in the Sun Papers
• Jackson struggles in Arrowhead

Keys to the Game
• Run the ball 40+ times and burn the clock      39 carries, but not clock burn we have seen in previous games
• Don’t give up big plays (20 + yards)      Nope, they gave up a few of thoese one for 48 yards
• Win the turnover battle by plus 2, no make that 3       Nope, even on the day

12/9/18 Chiefs vs. Ravens Pregame

On Sunday Lamar Jackson will start his 4th straight game and his second road game. He is getting a little bit better every game but still looks very much like a rookie quarterback. This road game on Sunday will be for him like nothing else he has ever seen. Kansas City’s Arrowhead stadium holds 80,000 lunatics that pride themselves as being one of the most difficult places in the NFL to play – and by accounts it is. They have recorded crowd noise in Arrowhead in the 137-decibel range. For those of you that might not understand what that means – it is comparable to the sound of a jet engine at 100 feet away. The human ear experiences pain at 125 decibels. I have heard quarterbacks say that the noise in Arrowhead was so severe that they literally could not think straight. Lamar is young and has no idea what he is walking into, and when the Ravens get to 3rd down he is going to learn very quickly what it means to play there and how hard it will be to call plays in the huddle. I would expect to see at least 3 to 5 penalties from the Ravens offense this Sunday ranging from movement to delay of game. It is going to be a big challenge.

The Chiefs are the highest scoring offense in the league averaging 37 points a game. They have an awesome set of receivers and probably the best tight end in the game right now in Travis Kelce. Pat Mahomes is having an incredible season and he will eclipse 4,000 passing yards for the season when he plays the Ravens. For the record, Joe Flacco has never had a 4000-yard season. While the Ravens did an incredible job against the Falcons last week, Matt Ryan does not have the athletic gifts that you will see in Mahomes. The Ravens defense, while ranked #1 in the league, will be challenged to catch Mahomes who is fast and elusive when he scrambles. Mahomes also has a unique ability to throw laser beams to receivers while rolling out or scrambling. So far this week, our best CB, Marlon Humphrey, has been sidelined with a groin injury which does not bode well for the defense if he does not play on Sunday, or if he does is limping out there. The Ravens line backers and safeties are going to be challenged keeping up with Kelce who is having a career year and is already over 1,000 yards for the season. If the Ravens have any chance to keep this game close, they are going to have to pressure Mahomes and keep him from getting outside the pocket. Judon and Suggs will have to play the game of their careers to contain him. Two things that are in the Ravens favor is that they will not have to face the recently cut Kareem Hunt, and Pat Mahomes while playing very well is prone to making mistakes at times – and when he does you have to make him pay.

The Ravens have been fortunate these past three weeks in that they have played very weak defenses and have been able to take advantage of their opponents poor run defense. The Chiefs are not very good either, and are currently ranked 31 in yards given up per game and are dead last in passing defense giving up an average of 295 yards per game. That said, the Ravens are not built for passing with Lamar and are unlikely to take advantage of this poor secondary. The Ravens have not won a game this season where their opponents have scored more than 21 points. You can go to the bank on this prediction – the Chiefs will score more than 21 points. To be successful on Sunday the Ravens have to do what they have done the past few weeks, and that is run the ball effectively and use up the clock. If the Ravens have TOP of 35 plus minutes it could be interesting. Mahomes can’t score if he is not on the field and the best defense quite frankly is to keep him off the field as much they can. To win, the Ravens must have several long sustained offensive drives that end in touch downs, and if they cannot do that it is likely to be a long day for the Ravens defense. If Tucker goes out on the field, it had better be for extra points.

This game is going to be the biggest test of the season for the Ravens and while I believe the Ravens defense is very good, I don’t expect them to shut out the Chiefs in any individual quarter. The Chiefs are 10 and 2 this season and they are undefeated at home – and that is because they have excellent skill players. The Ravens will bring their A game but I don’t think that will be enough to beat this team on Sunday. I personally hope that they keep it close and don’t embarrass themselves, but the Ravens offense as it stands today is not built for high scoring games, and the Chiefs offense is built that way. Coach Mornhinweg will have his work cut out for him on Sunday and Lamar will have to pass more to keep pace with the Chiefs. Coach Wink will also have to call a perfect game and it would be great if the defense could get a few picks which is something that they have not done in a long time. Vegas has the Chiefs by 6 ½ points and I think they will cover – especially because they are at home. The over/under is set at 51 points and I like the over. Enjoy the game and stay thirsty my friends.

Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Baltimore Ravens – December 9th at 1:00 pm
Odds – Chiefs by 6½

Game Predictions
Score         Ravens 23      Chiefs 30
Turnovers         Plus 1
Net Rushing Yardage         Ravens 201      Chiefs 84
Net Passing Yardage          Ravens 198      Chiefs 325

Miscellaneous Predictions
• Kelce has 8 receptions for 93 yards
• Ravens commit 10 penalties for 95 yards
• Ravens get their 1st pick since week 5
• Refs make terrible calls

Possible Monday morning headlines in the Sun Papers
• Jackson struggles in Arrowhead

Keys to the Game
• Run the ball 40+ times and burn the clock
• Don’t give up big plays (20 + yards)
• Win the turnover battle by plus 2, no make that 3

Ravens/Falcons Post Game Recap

There are not enough superlatives to describe how well the Ravens defense played today against one of the most consistent and high-powered offenses in the NFL. Their game plan was clear from the first 5 minutes of the game – they were going to pressure Ryan and they were going to run the ball down the Falcons throats. They did both with great success today. There is not enough time to go through all the stats but Falcons are always good at home and they were absolutely man handled today. The Ravens offense, while anemic at times, managed to grind out the clock holding the ball for a whopping thirty-nine minutes and 39 seconds. While Lamar played sloppy at times today it was enough to get the job done. This was a giant road win for the Ravens and keeps them alive for the playoff hunt. Other thoughts on the game are below:

• Falcons opening drive was surgical, with Ryan going 4 of 6, moving the length of the field and getting 3 points. They also burned five and half minutes off the clock. After that they didn’t do much until very late in the 4th quarter
• Ravens opening drive was beautiful and Lamar didn’t run the ball until the last play of the drive when he ran 13 yards on an option all the way to the pylon. On that drive the Falcons shot themselves in the foot by getting called for a hand in the face penalty that gave the Ravens new life in their drive which would have stalled without that penalty
• Coaching staff called a perfect game today and played to weaknesses of the Falcons
• The option runs with Lamar and the RBs needs some work as they are having fumbling issues with the transfer almost every week – that really needs to be cleaned up
• The Ravens fans in Atlanta did a nice job making noise and there were few times I thought I was watching a home game given the noise they were making for the white and purple
• Suggs is not the player that he used to be but when the game situation calls for it – the guy can dial it up and give a tremendous effort which he did at times today
• Lamar has this bad habit of slinging these errant side arm passes on short routes and they look more like they belong in the back yard versus on an NFL field. He will have to master short passes if he is to enjoy a long career in the NFL
• Ravens defense really answered the call when the Falcons went for it on 4th and one yard early in the second quarter stopping their run for a 2-yard loss and great field position for the Ravens offense
• Lamar missed a wide-open John Brown that would have likely gone for a TD, but quite frankly this is what you get with a rookie quarterback and as fans you have to lower your expectations
• Crabtree drops yet another one which would have been a 1st down, but no worries on 4th down Sam Koch our back up quarterback throws a deep slant to Moore for a first down and I think the longest play from scrimmage on the day
• Lamar’s fumble which turned into a 74-yard return for the Falcons defense was momentum killer but fortunately for the Ravens they overcame it
• The helmet to helmet penalty call on Humphrey was a terrible call and cost the Ravens a 1st down – just awful
• Ladarius Smith had a tough game getting three penalties – he has to play smarter at this point in his career
• Snead drops a pass that would have extended a drive – so disappointing that Ravens can’t find good receivers with reliable hands
• Ravens secondary were tenacious today and had close coverage all afternoon – and they kept Julio Jones to two catches for 18 yards – absolutely stunning
• Ravens defense played incredibly well in the first half and held Atlanta to just 87 yards – that is amazing folks especially when you do that in their stadium
• Ravens defense hardly gave up any YAK today – they were suffocating
• Falcons defense could not stop the run but in fairness they didn’t give up any big runs for the most part. I would also say the Falcons were not fooled with any of the Ravens run options and misdirection
• Lamar needs to learn how to throw the ball out of bounds when he is out of the pocket – he gives up valuable yards when he doesn’t need to
• Congrats to RGIII who saw his first NFL playing time in over two years. So glad that we had him suited up today when Lamar was out
• Through the first 3 quarters of the game the Ravens defense held Atlanta to just 99 yards
• I would prefer to see Tucker kicking extra points versus FGs, but boy is Baltimore fortunate to have such an outstanding kicker – hit 4 FGs today
• With 7:25 seconds left in the game the Falcons offense had just 102 total yards and three points
• Peanut forces a fumble on Ryan and then Tavon Young picks off the ground for a TD which was bone crushing to the Atlanta offense
• Would have liked to see the Ravens defense play cleaner in terms of penalties as they committed 5 on Falcons one TD drive in the 4th quarter
• Falcons earned just 130 yards on the day, and they average over 400 yards a game – think about that for a minute
• Clark played pretty well replacing Tony Jefferson and accounted for 4 tackles

Game Predictions                                                                                                       Game Statistics
Score Ravens 30           Falcons 28                                                                        Ravens 26         Falcons 16
Turnovers                           Plus 1                                                                             Even
Net Rushing Yardage             Ravens 185       Falcons 88                     Ravens 207         Falcons 34
Net Passing Yardage                  Ravens 230          Falcons 289                        Ravens 159            Falcons 97

Miscellaneous Predictions
• Edwards gets his 3rd straight 100+ game                           No, he carried 21 times for 82 yards
• Julio Jones leads all receivers with 7 catches for 131 yards           No, 2 catches for 18 yards
• Ravens record 4 sacks (fingers crossed)                                        Almost, they got 3
• Refs make terrible calls                                                  Refs missed 12 men of defense

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

Keys to the Game
• Run the ball and burn the clock                                         Correct, 49 carries and they burned 40 minutes of clock
• Pressure Ryan relentlessly                                               Correct, defense in his face all day
• Win the turnover battle                                                   Even on the day

12/2/18 Falcons Pregame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ravens/Raiders Post Game Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11/25/18 Raiders Pregame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ravens/Bengals Post Game Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

11/18/18 Bengals Pregame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ravens/Steelers Post Game Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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