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 Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens fall to Rams: Good, bad, ugly

By Chris Schisler

A quick recap of a painful loss for the Baltimore Ravens

The Good

Most of the first half went the Baltimore Ravens way. Chuck Clark has two interceptions for the Ravens’ defense including a pick-six for the first score of the contest. Mark Andrews set the franchise record for receding yards in a season.

Outside of one bad decision, Tyler Huntley was incredibly efficient. The end of the first half was excellent. The Ravens managed the game well and therefore had all three-time outs. Huntley led an impressive march to get Justin Tucker a big field goal to make it 13-7 at the half.

The second half could have started disastrously for the Ravens. While they sure would have liked a 3rd & 7 stop on the initial set of downs, things worked out. Matthew Stafford fumbled under duress in the red zone and Justin Houston got the ball for Baltimore. That was huge and it kept things on track for the Ravens.

One thing that went according to the script was the time of possession battle. The Ravens shortened the game, limited possessions for Stafford, and the defense gave their offense a couple of extra possessions. The Ravens held the ball for over 33 minutes of the game clock. They only got 19 points with it, but it was there for the taking. This game in so many ways went the Ravens’ way… Oh, man. What can you say? 

The Bad

The Ravens were up 10-0 when Tyler Huntley got greedy and forced the ball downfield. Instead of setting up a lead-extending score before halftime, Huntley put the Rams back into the game.  It didn’t take long for Cooper Kupp to get the Rams on the board with a touchdown reception. The Ravens could have been in full command. A self-imposed error put the pressure back on the purple and black.

The Baltimore Ravens ended up with field goals on two drives in which they picked up a fourth-down conversion. The lack of finishing drives was the biggest eyesore for the offense. The Ravens could’ve closed the door in this game before they did. The outcome doesn’t change that fact.

The offensive line had some struggles. In fact, Ben Cleveland‘s red zone poor pass protection probably prevented a Tyler Huntley touchdown pass in the first half. The Ravens left points on the field and theirs no way around it. Change one field goal for a touchdown and this is a completely different outcome.

Stats that killed the Ravens:

  • Cooper Kupp had six receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown.
  • Huntley was sacked five times.
  • The Ravens went 3/14 on third downs. The Rams got the fourth down conversion that mattered.

The Ugly

Run defense was bad in this game. Linebackers we’re getting caught in the trash. Tacking was suspect at times and the defensive line was getting pushed off the ball. Sony Michel‘s average per carry was way to healthy.

Up 16-7 in the third quarter, the Ravens had pass protection cost them. A quick stop by the Rams was helped by a second-down sack and a hopeless third-down play where Huntley just had to make an escape and protect the football. Roman’s play-calling was frustrating. It put a ton of pressure on the five offensive linemen. Too much for this unit against Von Miller and Aaron Donald.

Open-field tackling was awful. A lot of the plays that Cooper Kupp and Sony Michel made early were too easy.

The Ravens’ lack of killer instinct was potentially murderous in this game. Baltimore had a chance to put the game away. With a 1st and goal opportunity, the Ravens ended up with a late fourth-quarter field goal. The Ravens were up five with about five minutes left in the game.

It was a bad spot to be in. The Ravens needed a stop. The Rams got to the red zone with a little over two minutes remaining in the game. The absolute inability to stop Cooper Kupp loomed large, as it got the Rams in a dangerously close position.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens vent session: A tough month

The Ravens had a fourth-down situation on defense. Odell Beckham Jr. caught a first down reception with 1:01 left on the clock. Baltimore had to use a timeout. It didn’t matter. The Rams scored with 57 seconds left. The Ravens stopped the two-point conversion, but they knew they may have lost the hard-fought game. And they did.

 

 

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 Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens bye week went as well as it could

By Chris Schisler 

The Baltimore Ravens didn’t have a game in week 8 of the NFL season. Things went the way the purple and black wanted them to go while they were idle.

Baltimore Ravens got the results they wanted: 

The Cincinnati Bengals fell to the New York Jets. While they have the same amount of wins as the Ravens, they now have one more loss. Despite the head-to-head advantage, Joe Burrow and company dropped to second place in the division.

After the Bengals game, it seemed likely that the Bengals weren’t that good and the Ravens weren’t that bad. The Bengals leaned into that theory. While the real takeaway is that it is a week-to-week league and that anything can happen on NFL Sunday, seeing the Bengals falter is comforting for Baltimore.

The rest of the division (The Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers) did battle in Ohio. Baker Mayfield player despite his shoulder injury, though Cleveland only put up 10 points. In a game that was as much of an offensive struggle as it was a defensive showdown, Pittsburgh prevailed 15-10.

The Ravens should take note that the Steelers have righted the ship and the murky waters are no longer flooding their cabin. Pittsburgh has won three straight games and is in a much more comfortable spot than they were at 1-3.

This was still the outcome that strategically works for Baltimore. The Browns are now 4-4. The Steelers are 4-3. Instead of the Browns inching closer to the top. A division with three five-w

in teams would have made this a different kind of a feel on Monday.

The Steelers and the Browns look like beatable foes: 

The Steelers don’t look like world-beaters. They have scored under 20 points in four games this season.

Their bout with Cleveland was arguably their best offensive performance. They only averaged 5.4 yards a play and went 4-13 on third-down conversion attempts. It really feels as if 24 points is usually enough to beat Ben Roethlisberger and company this year. That’s not a discomfort to a Ravens team picking up 26.7 points per game.

The Browns are a disappointment. A team that was supposed to climb into the elite class of the AFC has four losses and is sitting in fourth place. That’s a tough pill to swallow for the sexy preseason pick to win the AFC North.

The Ravens were handed humble pie against the Bengals. Things looked bad. The problems (that weren’t hard to find) felt like they could sink the Ravens’ season. The dark cloud of an embarrassing loss at home is starting to move away from M&T Bank stadium.

The fact is that there’s not a team in this division that doesn’t have issues. There’s no king-slaying team running a rampage through the division. There’s a Ravens team that is in first place despite a plethora of injuries. There’s the Bengals who just got too high on themselves and let a backup’s backup quarterback go for 400 yards in his game. There’s the Browns and the Steelers with four losses apiece.

The Bottom Line: 

Do the Ravens need to do better when they return to action against the Minnesota Vikings? Sure thing. They need to start winning the battle at the line of scrimmage offensively. On defense, they need to find what makes them tick and some consistency to go with that. But as the sun came up this morning, the Ravens were back in first place in the AFC North. Everything is still there for the taking.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: Top 10 positives at the bye

A bounce-back week with two games (Vikings on Sunday, Miami Dolphins on Thursday) is just what the doctor ordered. If the Ravens reclaim their confidence, they can still be the dangerous team we thought they were when they crushed Justin Herbert’s Los Angeles Chargers. A perfect bye week has resurfaced optimism in Baltimore.