Posted in Pregame Content

Ravens miracle? Here’s a look at what the Ravens need to happen Sunday

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens are in a position where they need help getting into the postseason. They need to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers (though it’s Pittsburgh winning is a big deal regardless of record.  Then the Ravens need to start rooting for other teams. Yes, the scoreboard watching will be a definite thing.

The Ravens need three other games to go their way. They need the Patriots to beat the Dolphins. They need to hope the Jacksonville Jaguars can shock the world with a win over the Indianapolis Colts. The Las Vegas Raiders need to beat the Los Angeles Chargers. All three are possible in different degrees. Let’s take a look at the four things the Ravens must-have for postseason play.

A Win over Pittsburgh: A coin flip

Let’s be honest, with Ravens vs. Steelers anything is possible. The Ravens lost a heartbreaker to the Steelers earlier this season. To be honest, heartbreaker may be underselling that, quick give me an adjective that’s worse than that,,,

Anyway, the Ravens could very well win this. They could very well lose. Baltimore has been in every single game down the stretch outside of their trip to the Cincinnati Bengals. Tyler Huntley beat the Chicago Bears and keeps coming close against good teams like the Green Bay Packers and the Los Angeles Rams.

There’s no reason to expect a blowout from either party. This game will go down to the wire. Truthfully, neither team is all that put together. The Ravens are hobbled to the point that elimination would almost be as merciful as it is painful. The Steelers have T.J. Watt going for a sack record and the Ben Roethlisberger tour, but they’ve been a middling 8-7-1 team.

The Steelers need the Colts to lose to the Jaguars as well. All they need is a win over the Ravens and that pesky Jaguars team to play spoiler for the Colts. Both teams need a win to make anything matter on Sunday. Expect a good game. If this game goes down to a two-point conversion attempt, I can safely say that the entire Ravens Flock is going to go crazy either way. It’s going to be a Ravens vs. Steelers game, so don’t forget your blood pressure medicine if you take it.

Jaguars vs. Colts: So you’re telling me there’s a chance?

The Jaguars actually have a track record of beating the Colts in Jacksonville. The last several trips down to Florida have gone very poorly for the Colts. That’s it. That’s about the only thing you can hang your hat on if you’re a Ravens fan. Trevor Lawrence has had a brutal rookie season with 10 touchdowns and 17 interceptions on the year. Last week, the Patriots held him to 193 yards and picked him off three times. The Colts have been red hot. They’ve spent the last three weeks beating the Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, and Raiders. This is by far the least likely outcome to go the Ravens’ way.

Patriots over the Dolphins: Oh this is so doable

The Patriots need a win because they are currently tied with the Buffalo Bills for the division lead. The Bills have the edge at the moment, but there’s plenty to play for as far as the Patriots are concerned. That division title feels better than a wild card spot which means no resting players despite already being in the dance. That’s good for Baltimore.

The Dolphins are the only team to ever lose seven straight games and then win seven straight to get back into the hunt. The Dolphins are a better team than we thought they were, and they started showing it on Thursday Night Football against the Dolphins. This will be an interesting chess match between Bill Belichick and his former assistant Brian Flores. The Dolphins just got spanked by the Tennessee Titans. The pressure is on the Dolphins because the Patriots ultimately have a wild card spot to fall back on. The momentum of the Patriots plus the advantage of Belichick wanting this one bad and being a master game planner make this very doable. If the Ravens survive the first slate of games on Sunday with a fighter’s chance, they have a very interesting evening of rooting to do. It’s okay to root for the Patriots (this once).

Raiders over the Chargers: Which Raiders team shows up? Which Chargers team shows up?

The Chargers are a different team all the time. They were able to beat the Kansas City Chiefs and crush the AFC North crowned Cincinnati Bengals and they also were able to get steamrolled by the Ravens and crushed by the Denver Broncos.

The Raiders started the season as world-beaters. They beat the Ravens and Steelers with Derek Carr being hot and their pass rush being lethal. The Raiders are also 9-7 and have lost to the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears. I seriously don’t know what to expect here, which makes this a very interesting nightcap. If the Ravens need this to get in it could happen. The last time the Chargers won 28-14 in a weird night game that was delayed due to lightning. It all depends on which teams show up. The Ravens are hoping for the Good Raiders and the Bad Chargers.

Baltimore Ravens: Top 3 offseason needs ranked

Time to see what happens.

Posted in Pregame Content

Why the Baltimore Ravens can’t be taken lightly by the Rams

By Chris Schisler

The title of this article may be grabbing your attention, so let’s talk about it. Is it ridiculous that the Baltimore Ravens pose a legitimate threat to the 11-4 Los Angeles Rams? The Ravens have lost four straight games. The Cincinnati Bengals destroyed them 41-21 last Sunday. The Rams didn’t lose a game in December, and the new year is an exciting thought for Sean McVay and company. The title is bonkers right?

Here’s the thing, it’s not. The Baltimore Ravens can beat the Rams. This doesn’t mean they will, it should just be noted that it’s very possible. The Baltimore Ravens were a shell of themselves last week because the Covid reserve list and injuries put them over 30 players down. The Ravens won’t be healthy against the Rams, but they’ll be much more equipped than they were against the Bengals. Basing anything on that game is a dangerous practice, but I’m not your typical talking head so what do I know… right?

Look this is a game in Baltimore. The Green Bay Packers thought the game was going to be an easy breeze through the Charm City. They got an amped-up crowd and a game that went down to the two-point conversion. John Harbaugh has gotten the Ravens to fight their wings off this season, and if you think the purple and black are just going to lick their wounds and get the Rams a cupcake before the playoffs you don’t know this team.

The Ravens have reportedly been getting a lot of players back from the Covid Reserve list. Most recently, it’s been Tyler Huntley, Justin Madubuike, and newly rejoined with the Ravens, Tony Jefferson, Tyus Bowser, Justin Houston, Geno Stone, Chris Board, and Kristian Welch are back from the Covid list. Defensively, this team has a lot more working for it. Are they still a bit strapped at cornerback? Yes. But the Ravens are in a much better position going into this game.

The Ravens have been close in desperate situations on a weekly basis. The Bengals game was the exception, and the situation dictated that. Does anybody want to realize that the Ravens went to Josh Johnson at quarterback and still had a productive day on offense? The Ravens game against the Bengals went the way it did because the defense couldn’t get one stop. We saw against the Packers that the defense doesn’t have to be immaculate, it just has to get a few key stops.

Nobody expects Don Martindale’s unit to hold the Rams under 20 points. They don’t really have to, though it is worth noting that the Rams have scored 20 or fewer points four times this season. If the Ravens can keep the Rams under 30 points they can win the game. Remember the Packers got 31 points on a day where Aaron Rodgers could do almost no wrong. This is in the realm of possibility.

Lamar Jackson returned to practice on Wednesday, but it;’s looking more and more like Tyler Huntley. Well, that’ll work. Huntley made things interesting against the Browns and Packers. If nothing else, Huntley is a fun quarterback to watch. Having either Jackson or (most likely) Huntley back is a huge boost to this offense. This offense is also designed well to frustrate the Rams.

The Rams’ run defense isn’t their strength. When teams can run the ball on the Rams, they have a lot of success. It’s why the Rams struggled so much against the San Francisco 49ers, In that NFC West clash, the 49ers provided a decent blueprint to stopping the Rams. The Rams gave up 159 yards on the ground, and dominated the time of possesion. This tired out the Rams defense, nullifying Aaron Donald and Von Miller. It also prevented Matthew Stafford from finding a rhythm. Stafford is a player that needs to find his groove to have a big day and the 49ers said no.

While the Ravens offense called by Greg Roman isn’t exactly like Kyle Shanahan’s offense is in San Fransico, the Ravens can provide similar challenges for Los Angeles. On so many levels this is expected to be another bad week for the Baltimore Ravens. It doesn’t have to be. Some of the key ingredients are there for an upset.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens vent session: A tough month

So Baltimore has a chance. The game got moved back from 4:25 to 1:00. The joke will be on Fox if they televise the top upset of the NFL season. Will it happen? We’ll see. The moral of the story is that there is a reason to watch this game, there is hope.

Posted in Pregame Content

Baltimore Ravens must beat Bengals: Subtle reasons for optimism

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens need to beat the Cincinnati Bengals, If the Ravens lose to the Bengals it could be the final blow that knocks them out of the playoffs. It’s an AFC North opponent, with the division up for grabs. If the Ravens fall out of their chance to win the division, losing to another AFC team won’t help them in the Wild Card logjam. This is a must-win game.

The Ravens are facing their usual amount of 2021 season adversity. Covid-19 casts a fairly large shadow on this game. The Ravens have about 15 players on the Covid/Reserve list, it seems to get worse on that front, not better. Injuries are still a major problem. This won’t be a full-strength team. They’re on the road and the season is on the line. Where’s the hope? Let’s go over some subtle reasons for optimism.

Defensive turnaround despite injuries/Covid

The Ravens defense has been playing better than you’d expect. Marlon Humphrey went down against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns didn’t torch the Ravens through the air. Aaron Rodgers had some fun last week, but come on, you thought that was going to be worse. This defense has been playing well and it almost defies common sense.

In the Bengals’ earlier 41-17 win over Baltimore they played a healthier defense. The Ravens are a changed team defensively and their front seven especially has stepped up. It was a bad October day for the Ravens, Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine made sure of that averaging over 4.5 yards per attempt and picking up over 50 yards apiece. Burrow was hot and the Bengals could do whatever they wanted. The story could change in Ohio this Sunday.

Think about it. Nick Chubb failed to launch in both of the Ravens’ battles with the Browns. The Ravens have been one of the best teams in terms of points allowed. The Ravens have been formidable on third downs and the quality of tackling has improved dramatically in the back half of the season. At the beginning of the year, it was about Lamar Jackson carrying the team. Now Jackson is out and the defense is giving this team a shot. Somehow, someway the defense has made things competitive.

Matchups that could work for the Baltimore Ravens on offense:

Lamar Jackson hasn’t practiced this week. Let’s cut to the chase, you’re going to see Tyler Huntley again. Huntley has looked incredibly sharp. He orchestrated a game-winning drive in the windy city against the Chicago Bears. He played well enough for the Ravens to come back and almost beat the Browns. The Ravens just dropped 30 points on the Green Bay Packers. Going with the guy who is in rhythm, who’s healthy, and working with some fresh new confidence doesn’t sound all that bad.

The Baltimore receivers were accomplished in the last outing against the Bengals. Both Marquise Brown and Rashod Bateman had 80 yards receiving in the game. Brown and tight end, Mark Andrews, scored a touchdown. The matchups weren’t bad last time, Jackson was just a bit off and the Bengals had the right game plan. Look for the Ravens to be unafraid of taking shots with their backup quarterback.

The run game can’t be as bad as it was last time. Last time Lamar Jackson ran for 88 rushing yards and there wasn’t much else to speak about on the ground. Both Devonta Freeman and Latavius Murray have been picking up some steam at the running back position. The Ravens just have to avoid playing catchup and their rushing attack is very much in play. Huntley can have the same impact on the ground that Jackson had. The Ravens could get 150-200 yards rushing on Sunday.

The Bottom Line:

The Bengals are a good team. They also lost to the New York Jets. Both teams are quite capable of defeating themselves; you never know what you’re getting from Cincinnati. The Ravens should count on nothing and take every bit of effort they have to Paul Brown Stadium. This game is a pressure cooker for Cincinnati too. John Harbaugh has more experience than Zac Taylor, and until the last game, Harbaugh has had Taylor’s team pegged.

NEXT POST: Ravens Flock: Can we just give John Harbaugh a break?

The reasons to worry smack you in the face. You don’t need the negative highlighted for you. Here are the reasons the Ravens can win. That doesn’t mean they will, it means they can. The fight is on.


Posted in Pregame Content

Baltimore Ravens host Green Bay Packers: 4 predictions and a score

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens play the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in the late afternoon window. The Packers are fighting for the number one seed while the purple and black are just trying to stop the bleeding. Who wins? How does it happen? Here are four predictions and a score:

1. The Ravens rush for 200 yards

The Baltimore Ravens will probably be without Lamar Jackson. Jackson’s backup also has the ability to impact the run game, so expect Tyler Huntley to operate a ground and pound offense. Last week, Huntley passed for 270 yards but had to play catchup from the very beginning. This week, the entire point of the offensive attack is to prevent this game from getting out of hand.

Huntley had 45 yards on the ground last week. That number will go up this week with some designed quarterback runs being sprinkled in. Give Huntley an even 100 yards on the ground. Devonta Freeman had 64 yards last week. He had 52 yards the two games before that and had 49 rushing yards against the Chicago Bears. 50-60 yards can be seen as Freeman’s standard output. Let’s say he has a good week and it’s 65 yards for the veteran back. That gets the Ravens to 165 yards rushing and, Devin Duvernay and Latavius Murray will get that number to 200.

2. Aaron Rodgers will have 300 yards in the air:

The contreversy making Packers quarterback that is Aaron Rodgers is on fire. Rodgers has four games this year with 300 yards or more passing. The last three games make three of those four tallies. Guys, he’s hitting the 300 yard mark. Against a fairly depleted secondary this seems like an inevitablity. The Ravens run defense will also factor into this equation. Aaron Jones likely won’t play in this game which means if the Ravens stop A.J. Dillon on the ground, Rodgers will have to be the big play-maker. The Ravens face a lot of challenges in this game. Rodgers is problem numero uno.

3. Ravens get out to a fast start for a change of pace:

The Ravens have nothing to lose. Nobody expects them to win. There’s pressure in the sense that a loss hurts the teams chances a bit. For the most part though, the pressure isn’t there because the expectatons are lower than usual. At this point losing the game is thought of as a formality. The Ravens can put a ton of pressure on the Packers. The Packers are expected to win – scratch that – they expect to get the win. The more of a fight this becomes, the more pressure the Packers will feel.

Assuming it’s Tyler Huntley starting for the injured Lamar Jackson, I actually love the idea of a fast start. The young and unproven quarterback has nothing to lose and a huge stage to show his worth. For the first time in weeks the effects of expectations don’t work against this team. I think you’re going to see John Harbaugh gear up for a crazy game. I think the Ravens will get up 10-0 to start this game. A touchdown drive and an early stop will boost this team into having a chance.

4. Reality will set in:

The Ravens situation will eventually catch up to them. They’re the most injured team in football. A backup quarterback is the field general for the Ravens’ offense. It looks like Chuck Clark (The field general of the defense) will miss the game. Eventually the reality of being outmatched will sink in and solidify. The Ravens will get outgunned by the Packers offense. The second half of this game, in particular the fourth quarter will be a bad thing for Ravens fans to watch. A tired and exhausted Rvens defense will start to crack. The dam will break and the Packers will prevail.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens vs. Green Bay Packers: 5 early thoughts on the game

And now a score: Packers win 31-20

The Ravens haven’t put up more than 20 points in a long while. They need too much to go right for them to win a game with this hand they’re dealt. I think you need 30 points to win this game and I just can’t see the Ravens getting there.

Posted in Pregame Content

Baltimore Ravens vs. Green Bay Packers: 5 early thoughts on the game

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens have a battle with the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. The Ravens have lost two straight games. They as banged up as ever and the Green Bay Packers are fighting for the number one seed in the NFC. Is there any hope to be had? What should we think about this game? Here are eight thoughts I have for Sunday.

1. The Ravens shouldn’t rush back Lamar Jackson

The Baltimore Ravens would be very much behooved by winning the game against Green Bay. Things are getting tight and the AFC North is up for grabs. As silly as it sounds, this isn’t a must-win game. The Ravens have to beat the Cincinnati Bengals. They have to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ideally, the Ravens beat the Packers, though the season isn’t over if they don’t.

Rushing Lamar Jackson back if he’s not 100 percent is a bad idea. Jackson has been struggling. The cure for being stuck in your head isn’t playing with limited mobility. Tyler Huntley just passed for 270 yards against the Cleveland Browns. He’s a good backup. A healthy Huntley is going to do better than a forcing it Jackson. The Ravens need Jackson for the three crucial games after this. They need him to be healthy, they need him to be back at his best. Give him a week off if he’s not ready.

2. Don Martindale is the X-Factor here

The Baltimore Ravens do not have a one-man answer for Devante Adams. The Ravens are stretched thin and when Marlon Humphrey went down it was easy to see it as the death blow. The Browns only put up 24 points and their offense only had 17 last week. The Ravens defense hasn’t had a bad game in weeks. Did it collapse when the dam broke against Pittsburgh? Yes, but the team needed more than 19 points at Heinz Field. In the last handful of games, the Ravens have given up 24, 20, 10, 13 and, 22 points. Martindale has his team unit playing well. He’s figured something out. It’s a 4:25 pm kickoff, so it will be under the lights at M&T Bank Stadium. Don’t be shocked if the Ravens defense makes this a game against Rodgers and company.

3. Ravens must win the time of possession battle:

If the Ravens are going to go with Tyler Huntley, they must think of this as a game in 2018 post-Joe Flacco. Don’t be afraid to run it with Huntley. Don’t be afraid to give 13 carries to Devonta Freeman and another 13 to Latavius Murray. Use Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews for high percentage completions and keep the offense on the field. The best way to beat Rodgers is to have long possessions that keep him off the field. It’s a 60-minute game. If the Ravens can keep it anywhere from 36-41 minutes of the game clock, they’ll have their optimal chance of winning.

4. The Ravens really need Nick Boyle and Pat Ricard to be active:

With Patrick Mekari unavailable for the game, and Alejandro Villanueva coming off a tough game, we know exactly what kinds of problems the Packers can present to the Ravens upfront. The Ravens need to win the line of scrimmage in this game with Tyre Phillips at right tackle. Preston Smith and Rashan Gary could live in the backfield if the Ravens don’t have the best blocking tight end and the best fullback available for this game.

5. A great chance for a rallying moment:

Should the Ravens win this game? Absolutely not. They’re going against a 10 win team with an MVP candidate at QB. The Packers do a lot of things right. They’re solid on defense and are a wowing +12 in the turnover ratio. When you look at the Packers you’re looking at a team with all the pieces, one that can win the Super Bowl. When you look at the Ravens you see them at their lowest point of the season. The adversity they overcame is starting to get to the team.

It’s a weird season though. It’s a really weird season. Could there be a better “Us against the world” pitch for John Harbaugh? Could there be a better chance to rally around the impossible and get the win pundits don’t see coming? Don’t go into this game expecting a win for the purple and black. That said, don’t expect Baltimore to lay down and die. It would be great to see how much fight this team has in them against a Super Bowl contender.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens who deserve a spot in the NFL Pro Bowl

Plenty more is on the way. Keep tuned in Ravens Flock.

Posted in Pregame Content

Baltimore Ravens: Top concerns against Pittsburgh Steelers

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens have a battle on their hands and it’s in familiar territory. It’s an unfriendly bout with the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. The Ravens have at least one trip into their top rival’s den every season and they know exactly what to expect.

That’s the first thing you have to consider with this matchup. Games in Pittsburgh are never easy. The crowd is going to be relentlessly loud and present. The officials tend to give the Steelers some home cooking, whether they’re aware of it or not (see Bears vs. Steelers).

If you had to rank the toughest places to play in football, Pittsburgh may be at the top of the list. The Ravens have to pack their toughness and their mental resolve more than anything. Pittsburgh is a place where momentum is as important as oxygen. It seems to weigh heavily in that stadium.

Baltimore Ravens must buck turnover trend in these games:

The second concern for the Ravens has to be protecting the football. Lamar Jackson has a short history of turning the ball over to the Steelers. Jackson had two picks and two fumbles the last time he went against the Steelers. The Ravens lost 28-24 in a game the purple and black were mostly forcing the issue.

In 2019, Jackson had three interceptions against the Steelers in Baltimore’s 26-23 overtime win. His performance wasn’t as bad as it sounds, but in two games against the Steelers, Jackson has an uncomfortable amount of turnovers. It’s an especially present thought going into this game as Jackson is trying to rebound from a four-interception game against the Cleveland Browns.

Jackson has 12 interceptions in eight games. As great as he has been, Jackson’s also at times too careless with the football. Should the Ravens trust Jackson? Absolutely. He’s their field general and he’s proven himself beyond measure. That doesn’t mean that this isn’t a show-me game for the Heisman-winning quarterback. He has to show that he can control the game in Pittsburgh. Being concerned about Jackson’s turnovers is fair.

The Ravens have a lot to worry about offensively. Can the Ravens withstand the Pittsburgh pass rush? Whether or not T.J. Watt plays the Steelers have Alex Highsmith and a strong defensive front for the offensive line to deal with. It’s possible that neither Watt nor Cam Heyward will play in this game. That would be a huge boon for the Ravens’ in the trenches, it doesn’t mean things will be a cakewalk.

Concerns for the defense start with the injury report:

The Ravens’ injuries are racking up and it could cost them defensively. Chase Claypool and Pat Friermuth give Pittsburgh some big-play potential in the passing game. The injury report has Marlon Humphrey, Anthony Averett, Jimmy Smith, Tavon Young and, Chris Westry as questionable. Should most of them be able to go? Sure, but having almost all of your cornerbacks on the injury report is a bit unsettling if you’re Don Martindale getting ready for this one.

The Ravens have had plenty of problems with tight ends this season. David Njoku was even able to score without actually catching the football so Friermuth is on notice, I guess. All jokes aside, the Steelers have a rookie tight end that may present Baltimore a bit of a challenge. He’s a 6-5 target with a very thick frame and obvious chemistry with Ben Roethlisberger. If the Steelers try to beat the Ravens with quick completions in the passing game, the Penn State tight end could be their pipeline for that.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Big Ben round 1,000

The Ravens will want to make the Steelers one-dimensional. Taking Najee Harris will take the same kind of commitment to run defense that neutralizing Nick Chubb took last Sunday. Harris is always capable of the big play, even if the Pittsburgh offensive line isn’t great and his average on the year is 3.6 yards per rushing attempt. The Ravens can’t let him get loose in the open field.

If the Ravens make the Steelers one-dimensional it all comes down to beating the man they call Big Ben. Roethlisberger hasn’t looked close to his prime, but he’s shown flashes of the brilliance that will make him a future Hall of Fame passer. If Roethlisberger is hot and his receivers are on point against a  banged-up Ravens secondary, it will change the dynamic of this game.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens vs. Steelers: 4 predictions and a score

Do I think the Ravens should win this game? Yes. I think they’re the better overall team. Don’t think it’s going to be easy though. This is a coin flip of a game. Whenever the Steelers and Ravens meet it could go either way and it’s going to be a serious fight.


Posted in Pregame Content

Baltimore Ravens vs. Steelers: 4 predictions and a score

By Chris Schisler

1. Lamar Jackson reels it back in and has a solid performance for the Baltimore Ravens: 

The biggest concern for the Baltimore Ravens has to be whether their MVP quarterback is right. Can he get back into a groove? Was the four-interception game indicative of a larger problem? Was it just a bad day at the office, coming back after missing the Chicago game?

While the Pittsburgh Steelers have always found a way to frustrate Lamar Jackson, it’s hard to stay worried about him. He’s very self-demanding, hardworking and he’s going to be very focused on making up for it. Look for Jackson to play more tightly as a passer. He’s probably going to run it a little more. He may hold on to the ball a bit too long on a play or two- there will be side effects of his four-pick game.

This game is a chance to get his groove back. I’m not going to say that he’s going to have his best game or that he’s going to go crazy. I’m saying that we get a vintage Lamar Jackson game. 220 yards passing, 60-100 yards rushing. He’s going to look more like himself. In the Browns game, he didn’t seem like him. This week he’s going to be the player we know and love.

2. Ben Roethlisberger takes a beating:

The Pittsburgh Steelers just got manhandled by the Cincinnati Bengals. Roethlisberger looked awful last week. He was sacked three times and he was intercepted twice.

If the Ravens stop the run the way they did against Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the Steelers will be in their danger zone of one-dimensionality. Odafe Oweh will have two sacks and force a Ben Roethlisberger fumble. Tyus Bowser and Justin Houston will have a sack each. This will stifle the Pittsburgh offense.

Prediction 3: Marquise Brown goes off for the Baltimore Ravens

This seems like a matchup made for Marquise Brown. The Steelers’ secondary is beatable. Whether or not Joe Haden plays, he hasn’t been the Joe Haden we’re used to. Brown’s speed is going to be a problem for anyone they put on him.

In the game without Jackson last year, Brown had four catches and a touchdown. On his first trip to Heinz field in 2019, he also had a touchdown. Let’s make it three for three with Brown getting a touchdown in Pittsburgh but this will be his best game against the Steelers by far.

4. The Baltimore Ravens run game eats

I’ve already predicted a bit more rushing from Lamar Jackson and a standard 60-100 yards on the ground out of him. I don’t think he’s going to be alone in success on the ground. Joe Mixon just tore up this Steelers defense. The rushing yards are there for the taking.

The way the Ravens run the ball is starting to form a decent pattern. Devonta Freeman will be able to get 50-60 yards. Latavius Murray is good for 15-30 yards. With Jackson they’re going to healthily over 100 yards rushing. The Baltimore front is picking up confidence while the Steelers face their biggest moment of doubt.

And now a score: Ravens win 24-17

The Steelers will be competitive. You have to remember that this is a game in Pittsburgh and the Ravens have lost to worse teams (cough, cough Miami Dolphins). It’s a Ravens- Steelers game. It’s not going to be easy, especially not in a year where everything is hard.

NEXT POST: Why Ravens fans should actually feel more confident after their ugly win

I think the Ravens defense is coming together. The Ravens just need their quarterback to play true to his talent. If Jackson plays like himself I have much more confidence in the Ravens, even if that means winning in dramatic fashion.


Posted in Pregame Content

Ravens offense: Things we want to see against the Browns

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens are about to host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday Night Football. This is one of the biggest games of the season. It’s a chance to keep the Browns down and hold onto first place in the AFC North. The Ravens have to play the Browns again in Week 14 after playing the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 13. The Browns get a bye in between their clashes with the Ravens. This one is big and it can’t be overstated.

Stars back, the quarterback protected:

The first thing you want to see for the Baltimore Ravens is the return of Lamar Jackson and Marquise Brown. This isn’t a game that the Ravens can get by in without making big plays. The offense can’t leave the defense out to dry. The Browns may be as on and off as the Ravens, but when they’re on they can drop some points on the scoreboard.

The Ravens need more from their pass protection to be better. What was the problem two weeks in a row? Blitzes coming off the edge untouched and unnoticed. This is a game where the Ravens can’t leave Lamar Jackson out to dry, assuming he gets back into the action. This is where the return of Nick Boyle comes in. Protect the right tackle with extra help blocking. Put Boyle in there and have Pat Ricard at the ready.

Myles Garrett has 13 sacks to his name this year and has a case to be the Defensive Player of the Year. The Browns should absolutely send a defensive back after the Ravens’ quarterback in this game, it worked for two teams in a row. The offensive line is outmatched. What does this mean for Greg Roman?

It means it’s not okay to see a lot of looks out of an empty set, taxing your five-man protection. It means that he can’t call a ton of deep shots down the field that doesn’t include safety valves for Jackson underneath. The ball has to come out quick more often than not and that doesn’t mean 50 wide receiver screens.

Run the ball, have some fun with it:

The Ravens need to keep making progress with their run game. Let’s see Devonta Freeman keep picking up some momentum. Let’s see Latavius Murray running fearlessly up the gut as he did against Chicago. We need to see Jackson chip into the run game. The Ravens used to be promised 150 yards on the ground even on a bad day. You can run against this Browns defense. Let’s see the Ravens get back to overpowering their opponent.

This is a game where every bit of creativity from Roman will be appreciated. All season, the Ravens have been using Devin Duvernay in the run game. What if that jet sweep could be used to set up a fairly deadly play-fake? It feels like the Ravens have been setting it up all season and this could be a good game to have it pay off. The Ravens need to pull out all the stops. The last thing Ravens fans will accept is a lack of creativity and inspiration from their play-caller.

More than anything you just want to see the Ravens finish drives. Too often they are stopped to Justin Tucker field goals when the offense looks like it’s about to get going. The offense needs to hone into the moment with no little mistakes. Penalty-free football is next to impossible the way the game is called, but Baltimore can’t beat themselves with stupid things: False starts, delay of game penalties, illegal formations.

Jackson to Andrews:

Again, this article is written in the assumption that we’ll see the Ravens MVP candidate under center on Sunday evening. We have to see Lamar Jackson playing like Lamar Jackson wire to wire. He can’t be off or out of sync at the beginning of this game and look to turn on the jets as the game progresses. He needs to be the number eight that steps into his throws and fires strikes, not the one who misses low, or puts himself in a bad throw because he held the ball too long.

This is a Browns game so it’s all about Mark Andrews. Andrews has had some of his biggest games against the Browns. That needs to continue on Sunday evening. When Jackson is feeling it and the Browns don’t have a way to stop Andrews, good things happen for Baltimore.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: Ranking every crazy victory of this insane season

This is going to be a battle. The offensive focus needs to be on three things. First, the play-calls must help the offensive line. Secondly, creativity must unlock some fun in the run game. Finally, the Ravens need Lamar Jackson back and ready to do some damage. Other than one bad day in 2019, Jackson has owned the Browns. He’s their biggest nightmare. He has to be extra scary to the Browns on this game in front of a national audience.

Posted in Pregame Content

Baltimore Ravens battle with Bears won’t be easy: Pregame concerns

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens are playing the Chicago Bears on Sunday and it’s shaping up to be a harder day than Ravens fans want it to be. Lamar Jackson, who has been dealing with a non-Covid illness all week was listed on the injury report as questionable. Marquise Brown has been ruled out for the game. Chalk both of these Saturday developments as things you didn’t want to hear.

You have to expect that Lamar Jackson will suit up and play in this game. Jackson is the most important player on the field and if he can go, he will make it work. The fact that Tyler Huntley filling in is even a remote possibility makes this weekend tenser than it has to be.

Not having Marquise Brown doesn’t help an offense that needs to get back on track. In addition to Jackson being questionable so are 10 other Ravens players. The defense will be without Brandon Williams and Pernell McPhee. This is certainly is bad news for everyone except for David Montgomery and the Chicago run game.

The Ravens have played in close games all year long. They have only had three games that were decided by more than one score and they’ve lost two of them. When the Ravens win, it tends to be done the hard way. They also tend to start games out slow and without much rhythm. Jackson has missed practice time and has had a rough week. Today’s news with the injury report sounds like a slow start starter pack for the Ravens.

Not all bad news:

It’s not all bad news for the Ravens. Khalil Mack being on injured reserve doesn’t hurt. The Bears will be without one of the top pass rushers in the NFL. Chicago’s top receiver, Allen Robinson is listed on the injury report as doubtful. The Bears are a team that needs every ounce of star power they can get and they should be without a key player on both sides of the ball.

Patrick Mekari has returned to practice and is listed as questionable. If he can play at right tackle, that would be a huge help for the Ravens. That return to the starting lineup would be almost as important as the return of Nick Boyle. Boyle, who has been close to his return should be on the field on Sunday. He could spring some big run plays and should boost the overall battle in the trenches.

The absence of Marquise Brown makes for a big chance to see Rashod Bateman step up. Bateman had six receptions for 80 yards against the Miami Dolphins and has been a catch for a first down machine. The Ravens will need Sammy Watkins to return to form after a costly fumble against the Dolphins and all-around poor performance.

Justin Fields almost had a successful comeback attempt in Heinz Field against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Fields had 291 yards in that game and hit on some big passes that made the game interesting. The Ravens have been giving up so many big plays, that Fields’s explosive arm and running ability must give everybody in Baltimore some pause.

Baltimore Ravens bottom line:

Is this a game the Ravens should win? Absolutely. The circumstances around this game create some doubt though, it isn’t an easy contest. The Ravens need to bring their A-game. What Lamar Jackson has in the tank is up in the air. This would be a good week for the team to pick him up with their play for a change. It would be nice if Jackson didn’t have to do the whole Superman act against the Bears, in a week where an illness has him listed as questionable.

I’m going about this game of the mind that Jackson will play. That being said, Tyler Huntley’s time to shine is not horribly unrealistic and Trace McSorley has been called up to the active roster. Not having Jackson would take this from being a difficult road game to a bad situation quickly.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens vs. Chicago Bears: 4 predictions and a score

Let’s see what happens tomorrow. One thing is for sure, the lead-up to this game is an anxious one. Baltimore must win this game regardless of their circumstances.

Posted in Pregame Content

Baltimore Ravens vs. Chicago Bears: 4 predictions and a score

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens need to take down the Chicago Bears. It’s imperative that the Baltimore Ravens start taking care of their business, especially against teams with a losing record. The Chicago Bears may be a tough-looking three-win team, but it’s time for the Ravens to start looking like contenders. If the Ravens are for real they have to show up in this game and get the job done. Here are four predictions and a score for the Ravens clash in Chicago.

1. The Baltimore Ravens have an uncharacteristic fast start:

If the Baltimore Ravens are going to come out with a chip on their shoulder and guns blazing at some point, you’d think that this would be a good game to do it. The Ravens had no sense of urgency in their humid battle with the Miami Dolphins. Baltimore was quite nonchalant against the Vikings until they snapped out of it and won in overtime. The trend of slow starts will at the very minimum get the pause button in Week 11.

Look for the Ravens to try to get the run game going early. The Bears give up 122.3 yards of rushing per game. Elijah Mitchell had 137 yards against the Bears when the San Francisco 49ers went to Chicago. In a game where the Buccaneers crushed Chicago, Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones II combined for 144 yards. The Packers saw Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon pick up a combined 135. While the Ravens running backs haven’t been overly impressive, they have a viable chance of picking up the pace this week.

The Ravens will feature both Devonta Freeman and their quarterback, Lamar Jackson in the run game. The Ravens will control the football on offense for their first two drives. The payoff will be two touchdowns off a play-off action pass. Let’s give one to Mark Andrews. Let’s give the other one to Rashod Bateman (Which would be his first career touchdown). By getting back to their identity, the Ravens offense will find its groove earlier than usual, in a week where John Harbaugh and the whole city of Baltimore demand it.

2. Justin Fields will gift the Ravens the ball twice:

Justin Fields is an exciting rookie quarterback, yet he has nine interceptions in eight starts. Against the Buccaneers, Fields had three interceptions. Fields has only gone without a pick in four of the nine games this season. The Ravens defense has been doing a lot of things right. The big problem is that this defense is giving up big plays that nullify that impressive effort. The Ravens need to have a get right game by making big plays of their own.

Let’s give the Ravens a turnover on an Odafe Oweh strip-sack in which Fields mistankingly thinks he can outrun Oweh and doesn’t protect the football. Oweh has had four sacks this season and gets in quarterbacks’ faces rather frequently. Let’s give the second turnover to Brandon Stepehns as an interceptions.

3. Justin Tucker will be a huge weapon in the windy city:

Chicago is a notoriously tough place to kick the football. This time of year the ball gets hard in the cold and the wind has an impact on the game. The current forecast has the Ravens picking a good weekedn to go play the bears as it looks like a day just under 50 degrees. As of now, the Ravens are looking at winds at 20 miles per hour.

One way or antoher, this is a road trip the Ravens will asbolutely need Justin Tucker. Let’s give the Ravens three field goals in this game. Let’s say Justin Tucker hits a 56 yard field goal to give Baltimore an extra three points before the half. I’ll give Tucker two other field goals in the second half. Tucker will make sure points come at the end of promising drives gone wrong. This will be a key to this game.

4. Devonta Freeman and Lamar Jackson both run for 100 yards:

Devonta Freeman has started to heat up and he’s established himself as the top running back. With Le’Veon Bell gone and Latavius Murray just coming back from injury, Freeman has a chance to continue to be the main running back featured in this offense. It’s not that crazy that Freeman could have 100 yards on the ground. Freeman had 79 yards rushing on just 13 attempts against the Vikings. So put me down for 100 yards out of Freeman.

Lamarhe Jackson is always a threat to take off and run the football. I’m looking to see a proactive Jackson against the Bears. I don’t expect him to be timid; a frustrated quarterback is about to force the issue. Put Jackson down for a by any means neccesary kind of game. It’s also qute possible that he’ll have to scramble away from Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn creating extra rushing yards. Jackson dealt with a non-Covid illness this week, though he should be squared away to take on the Bears. The Ravens will rush for over 200 yards getting 100 from their emerging top back Freeman, and 100 yards from their MVP quarterback. Book it.

And a score: Baltimore Ravens win 30-24

This is a game on the road against a team with a rookie quarterback who is beginning to figure some things out. Okay, it’s not going to be as easy as Baltimore wants it. That’s the thing though, from here on out there are no more easy games. The level of the opponent can’t continue to matter to the Baltimore Ravens, they have to go out and win football. Baltimore will give you a heart attack once again, but they’ll get back on track with a big win.

MUST READ POST: Ravens vs. Bears: 3 big questions