Posted in Hot Take of the Week

Baltimore Ravens tied the record, Denver Broncos need to get over it

By Chris Schisler 

The Baltimore Ravens have tied the record for the most consecutive games with 100 yards rushing. They equaled the tally put up by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the ’70s. The way they tied the record has people talking.

The controversy (as I’m sure you’re painfully aware of) stems from John Harbaugh running one final play to get the record instead of taking the customary knee. Vic Fangio, the head coach of the Denver Broncos said some very frank things about Harbaugh and the Ravens.

The point of this writing isn’t to report this story. You guys have been in it. You’ve heard the quotes. Likely as a Ravens fan, you laughed at Fangio’s comments and Harbaugh’s response for opposite reasons. There’s no point rehashing what’s been said since we can’t seem to move on three days later, it would just be white noise.

One of my pet peeves with the media as a whole is that fans don’t get treated as fans. You’re into this stuff, you know what’s going on. Let’s have a real conversation. Let’s put it to bed and move on to football, move on to the Colts game on Monday night.

The issue at hand is about the perceived lack of sportsmanship. The Ravens obviously upset the Broncos, well at least their coach. My question is what did the Ravens do wrong?

There’s no rule stating the Ravens had to take the knee there. Secondly, if the Ravens weren’t allowed to pad their stats – if that choice wasn’t given to them, it would be unfair. The Ravens may not have done this because the Broncos dragged their loss out as long as possible, calling timeouts and racing for a garbage-time touchdown; but the way the Broncos handled things probably didn’t give John Harbaugh a second of pause. If the Broncos have a right to meaningless stats, the Ravens have a right to a few meaningful yards. To suggest otherwise is intellectually dishonest. 

From a Baltimore perspective, I’m naturally biased towards agreeing with what the Ravens did. It’s fun. It’s like a season finale of a TV show that doesn’t leave you on a cliff-hanger of suspense but rather warm and fuzzy anticipation for the next season. What does it hurt?

Did we really need to even go here? 

When you boil it down to that question, this gets very laughable. Lamar Jackson mildly rolled out and strategically went down with the tying of the record. The Broncos weren’t ready for it and their insistence on being disrespected is more to do with losing the game in convincing fashion. Jackson wasn’t going to get hit and that disorganized sequence was safer than running a two-minute drill with a zero percent chance of winning. Calling this a player safety issue is facetious. The Broncos’ only legitimate argument is the unsportsmanlike angle. To that, I utter a tired “Oh come on!” 

The Broncos made this about themselves. This makes it worse for them, doesn’t it? The record has nothing to do with them. Sure the Ravens tied the record, but next week they can actually break it against the Indianapolis Colts. Should Harbaugh have phoned Frank Reich to see if tying the record in the last second was cool with Indianapolis? Get over it. Just stop. 

I may be the last person to say this, as pushing my buttons is easier than changing the channel with your TV remote or setting the microwave to reheat pizza. I get feeling slighted stinks, but this is a mountain out of a molehill epitomized.

Broncos frustration becomes the story: 

If Vic Fangio said nothing and moved on, people wouldn’t be making memes about him three days later, reporters would settle down and the Broncos game could be a file we mentally close outside of a little film study and football analysis. Fangio’s anger is making this exactly what he’s acting like he didn’t want. If he wanted the attention, if he wanted to roast the Ravens, he’s being more distasteful than that last play was. 

Truthfully, if the record was held by a past iteration of a New York Giants team, I wouldn’t even kind of care. When the Ravens have a chance to take a record away from the Pittsburgh Steelers, I’ll take it. This is a rivalry where a certain amount of pettiness is acceptable.

If the Broncos had to deal with that, I’m okay with it. Thanks to the Broncos’ response, nobody will ever forget the team the Ravens tied the record against. Fans will probably remember the Broncos more for the record than the Colts if the Ravens break the record in week 5. Good job, Vic. 

Tying the record feels right: 

Getting the record would be cool. The Ravens have been the best rushing team in this generation. When it comes to the Ravens, the Lamar Jackson/Greg Roman Ravens have a case as the best ground game in NFL history. The Ravens achieving this mark seems right.

It’s just one more example of how the Ravens are doing things a little differently. Jackson being the quarterback opened the door up for some of the most memorable football in Ravens history. 

If you want to put an asterisk on the tied record for sportsmanship, your issues have to run deeper than being mad about the Ravens’ lack of sportsmanship.

I often refer to the first five years of the Flacco/Harbaugh era as the golden years in Ravens history because of five straight playoff years and a Super Bowl win. This feels like another golden era and a Super Bowl is quite possible for the Ravens. The one constant has been the Ravens run game and the impact that Jackson’s dual-threat ability has on the run game. Make history men, why not? 

NEXT POST: 6 Baltimore Ravens lessons from the win over the Broncos

So there it is. I’ve put my foot down on a foggy Wednesday morning. This is me putting the matter to rest. Here is a 1,000-word essay on the silliest grievance the NFL has seen in a long time. From this point, our only focus is on actual football. The Baltimore Ravens beat the Denver Broncos as they stirred up the pot. Their next game is another chance on Monday Night Football against the Indianapolis Colts. For Baltimore and Maryland, the Ravens can make history on Monday.

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens: 4 keys for the defense against the Broncos

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens defense has to step up against the Denver Broncos. The good news for the Ravens is that they have key players back. Justin Houston, Justin Madubuike, and Brandon Williams all return this week after being out for the Covid-19 close contact protocol against the Lions. What are the keys for Don Martindale and his unit going into their showdown in Denver?

1. Limit the easy completions for Teddy Bridgewater:

Teddy Bridgewater is completing over 70 percent of his passes. To put it frankly, the Broncos have had it too easy in the passing game. The Ravens are a defense that must finally offer them a test. Baltimore can’t get nickeled and dimed in this game. The Ravens have to take the easy completions away. The Broncos’ offense is very much built on timing. Disrupting the timing of the play by being physical with the receivers and getting into Bridgewater’s bubble is very important.

If Anthony Averett doesn’t play (He’s listed as questionable) this will force Martindale’s hand. He’ll have to be less aggressive in his coverage calls. This will require the defensive front to quickly get pressure on Bridgewater. Some fans have grown weary of Martindale blitzing, but if he doesn’t send some heat, the Ravens could die from slow cuts.

The defense has to pressure Bridgewater. The fact that Bridgewater has been so efficient makes me think it’s too good to be true. Bridgewater isn’t bad, but he isn’t this lethal of a quarterback. Martindale is going to have to use stunts and blitzes to make him prove it with pressure coming at him.

2. Bottle up Melvin Gordon:

The Broncos’ passing game is good, but no offense wants to be one-dimensional. Melvin Gordon is averaging 4.5 yards per rushing attempt. That is a healthy average. but it is inflated by one monster game against the New York Giants. Other than that, Gordon has not been on a roll. Bridgewater has had to do the heavy lifting for this offense.

If the Ravens make the Broncos one-dimensional, they make them more predictable. At that point, it becomes a chess match and Martindale should be trusted to call the right kind of game. If the Broncos have balance, it gives credence to the play-action and lets them keep Baltimore on their heels a bit defensively. It all goes back to key number one. The Ravens need to make Bridgewater uncomfortable, in a big way.

3. Don’t give up the big play:

The Broncos are feeling it and confident offensive coordinators like to take shots. The Broncos don’t have Jerry Juedy in this game. They don’t have K.J. Hamler in this game either. Courtland Sutton is not the biggest speed demon but he’s a hulking wide receiver who you don’t want to play around with. Noah Fant is a tight end who could have his biggest game of the season this week.

Baltimore hasn’t been able to defend the tight end. Travis Kelce and Darren Waller went off on this defense. The good news is that T.J. Hockinson was essentially a non-factor last week. If the Ravens have figured it out with tight ends the middle of the field is a little less available for the Broncos’ passing game.

4. Tackle. Tackle. For goodness sake Baltimore Ravens tackle:

The Ravens defense has actually put on a clinic on how not to tackle in the open field. It’s been awful. The Ravens defensively haven’t had a huge lack of effort or anything so it’s really as simple as cleaning up the fundamentals. This could be a really tight game. The difference in this game very well could be tackling in the open field. The defense needs to do a better job rallying to a receiver with the ball in the passing attack. They need to take better angles and for goodness sake, they need to run through and wrap up. Nothing frustrates me more than bad tackling and the Ravens have had it in the first three weeks.

NEXT POST: Ravens vs. Broncos: Key game day bullet points

There you have it. There are your defensive keys for the game. Let’s go Ravens.

Posted in Pregame Content

Ravens vs. Broncos: Key game day bullet points

By Chris Schisler

Ravens vs. Broncos by the numbers

  • Denver leads the league defensively with the fewest points allowed this season.
  • The Broncos are a top-three defense in passing yards allowed, and total yards allowed, and rushing yards allowed
  • The Ravens average 185.3 yards rushing per contest, which leads the league
  • The Ravens average 239 yards passing per game.
  • Something has to give. The Ravens’ offense is prolific and averages 27 points per game. The Broncos have been absolutely smothering on defense.
  • Jackson has done so much of the heavy lifting for the Ravens. His passing attempts are up and he leads the Ravens in rushing with 251 yards.
  • The Ravens pass rush is still an issue. Two of their five sacks have come from secondary players blitzing (Tavon Young, Chuck Clark)

Must Read: Baltimore Ravens: 3 Big Questions Versus the Broncos

  • Sammy Watkins is quietly having a strong season. He has 12 receptions for 208 yards. If Marquise Brown does continue to struggle, the Ravens could lean on Watkins more. He’s the second leading receiver in this offense.
  • Teddy Bridgewater has been a very efficient quarterback for the Broncos. He’s had 76.8 percent of his passes completed. That’s a number that will be hard to maintain and a sign of a quarterback who is feeling it to start the season.
  • Despite drafting a rookie running back in Javontae Williams, the Broncos’ leading rusher is still Melvin Gordon. Gordon has one 100 yard rushing performance this season and is averaging 4.5 yards per attempt.

The turnover battle will be a big key:

  • Lamar Jackson has been responsible for at least one turnover in each game this season. He has to clean up his game against a team that has four interceptions already this season.
  • Denver protects the football. They’ve only given it up twice this year and Teddy Bridgewater, who has revived his career with the Broncos, hasn’t thrown an interception.
  • The weather won’t be a factor in this game as it should be mild temperatures and a sunny day. I guess it beats the frigid winter games the Ravens are no stranger to in Denver.

Notable storylines:

  • The Ravens have activated Le’Veon Bell from the practice squad.
  • Even though Rashod Bateman and Miles Boykin have returned to practice they’re not active for this game.
  • The Ravens are looking for a bounce-back game from Marquise Brown who had several drops against the Lions.
  • The Broncos get their first big test. Beating the Giants, Jaguars, and Jets doesn’t prove anything. The Ravens have a big win on their resume from week 2. If the Broncos can beat the Ravens it would be a statement game for them.
  • Von Miller has returned to NFL prominence with four sacks in the early NFL season. Miller could be on his way to a comeback player of the year award- and may be in the defensive player of the year award.

Key battles in this game:

  • Marlon Humphrey vs. Courtland Sutton: Sutton had nine receptions for 159 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars in week two. He had five receptions last week. Sutton is the big-bodied play-maker for Denver. Marlon Humphrey is a physical cornerback who can lock down on a key receiver. With no Jerry Juedy in this game, Humphrey may be the only Ravens equipped to stop Sutton.
  • Mark Andrews vs. Kareem Jackson: Mark Andrews got going against the Lions. The Ravens need this to continue in week 4. Kareem Jackson is the strong safety and will likely be the primary player responsible for Andrews down the field. Jackson has had a strong season, already has an interception and a Pro Football Focus grade of 81. This could be a good battle.
  • Ravens offensive line vs. Denver’s front seven: The Ravens offensive line as a unit has been frustrating this season. Alejandro Villanueva and a rotation of Ben Powers and Ben Cleveland at left guard make us have some big questions on the offensive line.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: 3 keys for the offense vs. Broncos

These are the key pieces of information you need before kickoff. Enjoy some anxiety-free football in the first window of games and get ready for the Ravens in the late afternoon.

Posted in Pregame Content

Baltimore Ravens: 3 keys for the offense vs. Broncos

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens take on the Denver Broncos in their second showdown with a good AFC West team. In round one against the AFC West, the Ravens took down the Chiefs in one of the most memorable Ravens games ever. Can this performance be as memorable? Here are three keys for the offense against the Blue and Orange.

1. Lamar Jackson needs help

Defensively, Denver is no joke. The Baltimore Ravens offense has to show up, the whole unit has to play as one. Against the Detroit Lions, Lamar Jackson had to carry the team on his back. Lamar had 31 passing attempts and chipped in 58 yards on the ground. In a game where it seemed like he had to do it all he was running for his life in the backfield and watching receivers drop passes. Jackson got sacked four times. When the most elusive quarterback in football gets sacked four times that’s the equivalent of 8 sacks for a normally gifted quarterback.

As a unit, the offensive line didn’t get the job done. It was the third game of the season and the second time that was the case. Jackson would have had well over 300 yards passing if it weren’t for drops. If the cast and crew around the Ravens MVP quarterback played better football, the Ravens would have had a blowout win. The Ravens cannot survive against the Broncos with miscues that plagued them last week. Quite frankly, the Ravens need their most mistake-free football from the offense in this one.

2. Ring the Bell:

See what I did there? Le’Veon Bell has been activated from the Ravens’ practice squad. That means we’re probably going to see the first bit of Bell with the Ravens. If nothing else it’s interesting. At this point, the Ravens just need to find a running back that gets the job done. With Ty’Son Williams it’s either great or horrible. Latavius Murray is serviceable but isn’t what he once was. Devonta Freeman isn’t horrible but he isn’t the answer. At this point, the Ravens have no reason not to try Bell out in the game.

If Bell can add anything extra at running back it would behoove this offense. The Ravens aren’t quite the Ravens right now. Losing J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards for the year was survivable and that’s clear. Let’s not pretend however we aren’t seeing the cost. They say running backs are a dime a dozen. Well when you have to replace three running backs right before the season, they aren’t that many good answers. Bell working out would be a very pleasant surprise.

3. Greg Roman calling the right kind of game:

Roman has a lot of responsibility in this game. He has to prevent Jackson from being in an unfair position. He has to keep going to the run game no matter what and he has to keep the Broncos pass rush in mind at all times.

Jackson showed that he could carry the offense with his arm against the Lions. That’s all well and good, but being pass-happy against the Broncos is the wrong call. The Broncos have a good pass rush and a good secondary. This game isn’t going to be easy. The Broncos have only given up an average of 162.3 passing yards per game and have the top defense in the NFL. Have they done it against weak competition? Absolutely. Weak opponents or not, they’ve shown off talent in the secondary and the pass-rushing department.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: 3 Big Questions Versus the Broncos

Through play-calling, Roman has the chance to protect his quarterback and give the offense the balance it needs to work against this defense. The moral of the story is if Jackson has to play hero ball against this defense it could lead to bad outcomes.

Posted in Ashley's 3 big questions

Baltimore Ravens: 3 Big Questions Versus the Broncos

By: Ashley Anderson

With a little luck and some star-kicking power, the Ravens found themselves at 2-1 after three weeks. This week, they travel to Denver to take on the undefeated Broncos. Here are some pressing questions heading into the game.

3.) Will Justin Tucker break his own kicking record?

Okay, this is a bit facetious, but even the Ravens have commented on the possibility this week. When Tucker lined up for his 66-yard try against Detroit, it had a 10% chance of being good. With a kiss off the crossbar, it ended up going through the uprights to send Baltimore to a huge win. Tucker now holds the record for the longest kick in NFL history by a two-yard margin.

Now, with the thin air in Denver, there is speculation Tucker could hit from around 70-yards. Long snapper Nick Moore said Tucker often hits 65 to 70 yarders at practice. However, there is a big difference between practice and a real game. For a kick of that distance to have any chance of success, every aspect needs to be perfect.

During the 66-yard attempt, Tucker initially set his feet before deciding to take a step backward. That single step had the potential to disrupt the timing of everything. Moore had to get the perfect snap to Sam Koch, Koch had to hold it a fraction of a second longer, and the blockers had to keep Tucker clean and avoid costly holding or false start penalties. Oh, and Tucker still had to kick the ball so violently that it would have the distance to clear the bar.

Considering the minutiae of the whole operation, conditions would have to be pristine to even make the attempt. Given the ability for the opposing team to return a miss, the whole team would have to be on alert to avoid points going the other way. Chances are, the Ravens would only try for a kick that long if it were at the end of a half. In fairness, there is no better kicker in the league to try it.

2.) Can the Baltimore Ravens make Teddy Bridgewater uncomfortable?

Through three games, Teddy Bridgewater has only been sacked seven times. He has been able to stay comfortable in the pocket and is currently second in the league with a 76.8% completion rate. This week, however, he will be without his starting right guard, and his left guard is questionable.

Baltimore has struggled to create pressure on opposing quarterbacks so far. As a team, they only have five sacks, and no player has more than one. What was an area of concern prior to the start of the season has continued to be worrisome.

It also hurts that the Ravens’ secondary is not at full strength. After losing Marcus Peters near the end of training camp, they were also without Jimmy Smith for the first two weeks of the season. Chris Westry got hurt in Week 1, DeShon Elliott has been banged up and missed time, and now Anthony Averett is questionable.

Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale can usually scheme pressure with a variety of personnel, and he may need to start getting more creative. At this point, the Ravens are not winning many of their one-on-one assignments, and tackling is an issue that has continued to rear its ugly head. If Bridgewater has time to work, he will dissect Baltimore’s secondary.

1.) Will the Baltimore Ravens end Denver’s Undefeated Streak?

Of course, the biggest question heading into this game is whether Baltimore can snap Denver’s three-game win streak. The Broncos are one of only five undefeated teams in the NFL, and they are trying to keep pace with the Las Vegas Raiders. Baltimore has had a very uneven season so far, and they could as easily be winless as they are 2-1.

The “real” Ravens have likely yet to emerge as they deal with a plethora of injuries. For the first time this season, their opponent is also greatly hampered by injuries, which levels the playing field. Still, Baltimore has to take advantage of the situation by exploiting mismatches, or that will not matter.

Next Post: Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos: 4 predictions and a score

Denver’s three wins came against two rookie quarterbacks and Daniel Jones of the Giants. The Ravens boast a much more talented roster, but they cannot afford to play sloppy. If they have drops and penalties like they did in Detroit, the Broncos will send them home with a loss.

Posted in Pregame Content

Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos: 4 predictions and a score

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens have a tough game on Sunday. It’s in the later 4:25 pm window and it’s against the Denver Broncos. The Broncos are undefeated heading into their home game with the Ravens. We don’t really know how good the Broncos actually are. They’ve taken down the New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, and most recently the New York Jets. They’ve been dominant in every game- but they haven’t played anybody.

The Ravens are actually a hard team to figure out as well. In three games they’ve been a very interesting blend of impressive and frustrating. The Ravens basically got lucky in Detroit, with the longest field goal of all-time giving Baltimore the win. The Ravens were talked about as serious contenders after beating the Chiefs and a lot of that has cooled off after the third week of the season. Is the perception of the Broncos rooted in overconfidence and the perception of the Ravens rooted in false levels of concern?

Let’s dive into this matchup with some predictions based on what we do know about these two teams.

1. Marquise Brown has a bounce-back game:

The Baltimore Ravens offense can’t really take off if the run game isn’t churning or Marquise Brown is struggling. I expect a bounce-back game for most of the offense, especially from Brown. Brown is the top receiver for the Ravens and he has the most chemistry with Lamar Jackson. When Brown plays well the Ravens flourish.

The Ravens know that and they won’t turn away from their number one wide receiver. Look for the Ravens to get Brown off to a fast start in this game. The way the Ravens handled Brown’s miscues tells a lot about the situation. It’s a mental thing and yelling and barking at him isn’t going to do anything. Brown wants to do good, it’s not an effort thing. The only way to gain back confidence is to get the football in his hands. Look for Brown to have five to six catches for 100 yards in this game.

2. Von Miller will be a straight-up problem for the Baltimore Ravens

Von Miller is still one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. As the Broncos’ defense is starting to pick up steam, Miller is picking up a lot of the momentum. He’s had a sack in each outing this season, with two sacks in the season opener against the Giants. Miller could have a Maxx Crosby-like impact on this game.

The Ravens’ offensive line has been bad two out of three games. The odds are that the trend continues in this game. Jackson will have to continue to take protecting himself into his own hands. The Ravens will be facing a team that has eight sacks and four interceptions in three games. Jackson may be able to right the ship when it comes to protecting the ball, but he will be put into some seriously bad situations.

3. Don Martindale frustrates Teddy Bridgewater:

Teddy Bridgewater is having a nice season for the Broncos. He hasn’t thrown an interception and has over 800 yards passing in three games. Two of the Broncos’ offensive linemen (Graham Glasgow and Dalton Risner) are questionable. Justin Madubuike and Justin Houston are back.

I’m calling it now, it’s going to be a sack party for the Ravens defense. Give me a sack by Madubuike. Give me two sacks for Justin Houston, one for Calais Campbell, and one for Odafe Oweh. The Ravens will get five sacks and an interception in a key moment. Martindale is going to create pressure inside and it’s going to fluster Bridgewater for the first time of the season.

4. Lamar Jackson has 350 total yards and three touchdowns

According to a tweet by ESPN’s Sportscenter account, Lamar Jackson is leading the NFL in yards per pass completion and yards per rushing attempt. This has never been done before, pointing out how much Jackson is doing for the Ravens. Put Jackson down for 100 rushing yards and 250 passing yards. I think he will account for three touchdowns also. This will be a tough game but Jackson will step up to the plate.

Score Prediction: Baltimore Ravens win 28-17

I think this will be a close game and then the Ravens will pull away. The Broncos aren’t a bad team and the Ravens are on the road. Ultimately, the Ravens will test Denver in a way they haven’t been pushed yet this season. Jackson will lift this team to victory.

NEXT POST: NFL Week 4: Predictions for every NFL game

Here are my predictions for the game. More analysis is coming including an in-depth look at the Denver Broncos and what the keys are for the Baltimore Ravens on offense and defense. Thanks for coming to the Purple and Black Nest today!