Tag Archive | "afc north"

Rarefied air of Steelers Week for Ravens is to be savored not soured

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Rarefied air of Steelers Week for Ravens is to be savored not soured

Posted on 26 November 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

With five games left in the 2012 campaign, the Baltimore Ravens’ 9-2 record is a textbook testament to never quitting and having some special, battle-tested leaders who stare down adversity undaunted — and never, ever become unnerved.

Somehow, someway – even on 4th & 29 – Joe Flacco can manage to walk into a huddle, call nothing but go routes and still throw a check down and the other 10 guys in the huddle including Ray Rice can buy in on saving the game with some kind of miracle. Once you’ve seen that play work, there’s a little part of you that believes that all things are possible for this beleaguered group of purple warriors.

Eleven games into this journey, there’s still a legitimate debate about the merits and quality of this year’s team. And on a play-by-play, drive-by-drive basis it’s almost inexplicable that this team could be 9-2 and holding an almost insurmountable three-game lead in the AFC North. Almost every facet of the Ravens’ production on the field has come under scrutiny or provided some inefficiency, ineffectiveness or failure at some point.

But there they are at 9-2 and still in the throes of possibility regarding home field advantage throughout the postseason.

Week after week the Ravens seem to be on the ropes. And week after week I enter the post-game press conference watching John Harbaugh try to explain how the team won another game when the previous 60 minutes of football looked like a sloppy box of chocolates in the sun.

You never know what you’re doing to get.

Clearly, no one wants to play the Ravens in Baltimore. The home field advantage in The Purple Crabcake is now the best in the football. Is that the noise of the fans? Is it home cooking? Is it the comfort level of Joe Flacco and the offense for play calling? Is it the visiting team(s) coming into M&T Bank Stadium knowing the odds are long simply on reputation?

We don’t have the answers to this Jekyll & Hyde act. We merely witness it and remain alternately flustered and floored after yet another unlikely victory.

It’s almost like watching the Baltimore Orioles this summer – you don’t question how it gets done, you simply enjoy the result. Just smile and hold on…

Other than knowing that over the history of the NFL home teams have always dominated and are always given three points in Las Vegas just for walking out of the home locker rooms, the Ravens’ bi-polar domination at home and sleepwalking on the road remains an unsolved mystery in progress.

On the road, the Ravens are an ugly bunch – a scuffling, stumbling, punting and yet more-times-than-not still victorious bunch. From Cleveland to San Diego, from Pittsburgh to Kansas City, the Ravens have been on the ropes and could’ve easily perished in the 4th quarter of all four games.

And 5-6 would look, smell and taste a whole lot different than 9-2.

But what we saw on Sunday was an all-timer.

The Ray Rice “Hey Diddle Diddle” 4th & 29 in San Diego will go down in history as one of the most amazing plays of this generation. (And we’re still not even sure if it really was a first down? And we’re pretty sure Anquan Boldin could’ve been flagged for a block to the back and unnecessary roughness. He still might hear from Park Avenue after that one.)

But when Flacco, Rice and Torrey Smith aren’t create miracles, they’re walking off the field far too often on the road frustrated after another failed 3rd and something. Or going 130 minutes at a clip without scoring a road touchdown.

The same offense and personnel that is so fluid in Baltimore routinely sputters on the road.

The defense, which over the years has earned a legendary status led by Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs, has been hit hard this season by a myriad

SEE PAGE 2

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Ravens win in San Diego and I, now, officially believe in magic

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Ravens win in San Diego and I, now, officially believe in magic

Posted on 25 November 2012 by Drew Forrester

That does it.

I’m a believer.

You people can continue with your in-game rants about Cam Cameron and Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense.  I’ll just sit back for the rest of the season and watch them snatch victory from the jaws of defeat on their way to New Orleans in early February.

I’m serious.  You can try and figure out a way to turn that win over the Chargers into a loss, but it’s not going to happen.  Bark about Cam Cameron all you want, but he’s the Offensive Coordinator of a team that’s 9-2.  Whine and complain about Joe Flacco until next Sunday when he dismantles that Steelers defense in a 27-10 win, but you’ll be whining about a quarterback who is 9-2 and headed to the playoffs for the 5th straight year.

You people can keep trying to convince yourself that this Ravens team stinks, but all you’re going to do is come out with egg on your face come January. Until today’s unlikely triumph over the Chargers, I was right there with you.  I was a complainer and a moaner and a “how can we keep winning like this?” goofball after all of those fluky wins over Kansas City and Cleveland and Dallas and even Pittsburgh last week, where the Ravens barely snuck past Fred Sanford at quarterback for the Steelers.

But after watching Sunday’s game in San Diego unfold, I’m going over to the dark side with John Harbaugh.

It was a win.

That’s it.

The coach will say that over and over on Monday in his press conference and I’ll just nod my head in agreement.

The Ravens pulled off a true miracle against the Chargers – the likes of which we’ve never seen – connecting on a 4th and 29 in the final two minutes of the game and later using a Justin Tucker field goal in overtime to win, 16-13.

It was the ultimate rabbit-out-of-the-hat-trick that you’d see from David Copperfield.

And it sold me for the rest of the season.

Somehow, someway, despite the lethargic road offense – again – Baltimore stayed alive long enough to let the Chargers defense collapse at just the right moment.  And when the Chargers whiffed on three tackle tries on that 4th and 29 play, the Ravens heartbeat pumped just enough blood into Joe Flacco and his wide receivers to tie the game, then win it in overtime after Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith made huge 3rd down grabs with the game on the line.

It was a miracle.

But it went the way we all wanted it.

(Please see next page)

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Baltimore Ravens offense looks great for 16 minutes

Posted on 05 November 2012 by BaltimoreSportsNut

Ok, let me get this out first, the Baltimore Ravens are 6-2 and atop the AFC North and currently hold the second seed in the AFC, which at the beginning of the season all us Ravens fans would take that at the half way point everyday and twice on Sunday.

Now, the offense came of on fire and it looked fantastic in the first eight minutes of the game, Baltimore was running the ball effectively and they marched down the field scored two touchdowns on their first two drives, led 14-0 and I got relaxed in my chair and was enjoying the good life. Then the offense took an almost three quarter nap, with countless three and outs and netting zero offensive yards in the third quarter and lost the lead after five Browns field goals, 15-14.

Just when I was about to need a new remote control (from throwing it across the room) Joe Flacco and the offense quit hitting the snooze button on their alarm clock and woke up for the final eight minutes of the game. With two nice drives netting in a touchdown and a field goal to come through with a 25-15 victory on the road against a much improved Cleveland Browns team.

I am not going to be very critical as the Ravens offense did exactly what I wanted them to do, they ran the football, but I will criticize the fact that Cam Cameron did not make any adjustments on the runs, as Cleveland shifted to run blitzes and completely shutdown the rushing offense of the Ravens the rest of the game. Why not some runs on the outside just to make the defense honor it, but hey we ran the ball and we won…..coincidence? I think not.

6-2 Baby!!!

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Can this Ravens team win 10 games?  I’m not so sure anymore…

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Can this Ravens team win 10 games? I’m not so sure anymore…

Posted on 04 November 2012 by Drew Forrester

I usually wait a day to write something like this, but I know right now my opinion isn’t going to change by this time tomorrow.

So, I might as well just go ahead and get it over with, right?

I fully understand the Ravens are 6-2.  If we were playing “coulda, shoulda, woulda”, they could be 7-1 or they could be 4-4.  In fact, they’re probably much more fortunate that they’re not 4-4 than they are rightfully disappointed to not be 7-1.

Now that I have that out of the way — recognizing that the Ravens are, indeed, 6-2, I can go ahead and fire away.

If this is the best we’re going to see from the Ravens over the last half of the season, they’ll be fortunate to win 10 games.  I’ve been waiting for them to “fix things” for the better part of two months now, and while they did manage to win 6 of their first 8, there’s no doubt nothing seems to be improving.

The team’s main issues, namely the play on the offensive and defensive lines, haven’t improved one iota.  There’s zero pass rush on the defensive side.  Even with Terrell Suggs back in the fold for his second game of the year at Cleveland on Sunday, the Ravens did little to make life uncomfortable for Browns QB Brandon Weeden.  And when he did manage to throw it, more times than not our defensive backs were nowhere to be found.  Despite pitching a “TD shutout” for the second time this season (at KC, also), the Ravens “D” looked more suspect as the game went on.  Thank God that Weeden guy isn’t any good or who knows how that thing might have ended in Cleveland.

Offensively, it continues to be a mystery with each game, each half, each quarter and each series.  Baltimore’s offense makes Jekkyl and Hyde both look sane.  One minute, they’re buzzing down the field like the 49′ers of the Montana era.  The next series, it looks like Kyle Boller and Frank Sanders have reunited.

No one can figure it out, including the Ravens.

They ran the ball all over Cleveland in the first 20 minutes of Sunday’s game.

Suddenly, the Browns added an extra defensive lineman and the Ravens had no answer for it.  One player can make that much of a difference when you’re talking about a 2-win team vs. a 5-win team?  I don’t buy it.

The powderpuff portion of the schedule is over.  No more Cleveland’s or Kansas City’s to feast on between now and the end of December.

And that’s why I think it’s going to get ugly over the next 8 weeks.

Next Sunday’s visit by Oakland should be one final brief reprieve before the varsity teams start showing up week after week.  Pittsburgh (twice), the Giants, Denver, Washington, San Diego and Cincinnati. (Well, OK, maybe the Redskins aren’t the varsity, but you know what I mean…)

I hope I’m wrong on this.

Really, I do.

But this Ravens team looks the same week after week after week.  As strange as this sounds, they’re very similar to the 2012 edition of the Orioles.  You have no idea how they’re actually winning, but winning is what they do nearly every Sunday.

I think that’s going to come to an end, though, unless they figure out how to be more productive on offense and less vulnerable on defense.

The Giants might score 45 points on the Ravens in December.

Peyton Manning might throw for 400 yards against this Baltimore secondary.

Phillip Rivers never plays well until the Ravens come marching in to San Diego.  Then, somehow, he becomes Dan Fouts for a night.

Oh, and that guy Roethlisberger, who has singlehandedly knocked off the Ravens a half-dozen times in his career, always figures out a way to play a major factor when Baltimore and Pittsburgh get together.

I hope I’m wrong.

But I think ten wins might be a reach for this Ravens team unless they get their act together.

 

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Ravens aren’t facing an uphill battle…they’re just facing a battle – like everyone else in the NFL

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Ravens aren’t facing an uphill battle…they’re just facing a battle – like everyone else in the NFL

Posted on 15 October 2012 by Drew Forrester

At least once or twice a season, I have to sit down and pound out one of these blogs to give everyone a dose of reality as it relates to the Ravens and the NFL campaign.

So…here goes.

I’ll cover a bunch of topics here, so please pay attention.

Let’s start with the obvious.  The Ravens defense isn’t all that good.  Their biggest problem of all?  They don’t really do anything in particular very well.  They can’t stop the run.  They surely can’t defend the short throw over the middle.  And if the other team has two or three different legit wide receiver options, there’s no way they can stop an elite quarterback, mostly because they don’t put any pressure on him.  Most teams with a “sub-par” defense at least have one element they consider “their specialty”.  The Ravens don’t really have anything we’d consider a specialty.

But…and yes, there’s a balance to this, hence the word “But” in there — their offense is virtually the exact opposite of their defense.  The Ravens can run it and throw it.  They can use Ray Rice’s feet or his hands.  They can focus on either Pitta or Dickson.  They can send Torrey Smith long or they can have Boldin run the slant and let Flacco feed him that all-world ball he throws to the sideline.  As bad as Baltimore’s defense is, their offense is probably just as good.

You people wanted offense.  Well, you got it.

You might see a lot more 31-28 games and a lot less of the 17-10′s and 20-14′s.

What will that get them?

Well…so far, it has them at 5-1, which is impressive on its own – except for that 9-6 stinker in KC that they won… a game they likely would have lost a season ago for whatever reason.

And do you know what the Ravens are focused on now, six games into the season?

The same thing they were focused on back on September 10.

The Ravens have one goal in front of them.  They simply want to make the playoffs.

As one long-time staffer said to me today, “You have to look at this like it’s a marathon.  You can’t finish 26 miles until you’ve reached the 5 mile mark, the 10 mile mark, the 15 mile mark, etc.  Eventually, the 26 mile mark comes into view, but not until you’ve completed the first 25 miles.  And that’s the NFL, too.  We need to get to at least 11 wins in our mind.  We have five already.  We have six more to go.  If it takes less than that and we get in, that’s fine.  If we have the best record overall, that’s great.  If we win the division, we’d be thrilled.  But our big thing is to make the playoffs.  After that, we’re 0-0 like everyone else.”

Class dismissed.

(Please see next page for more)

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Ravens-Browns: Five predictions for Thursday night

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Ravens-Browns: Five predictions for Thursday night

Posted on 27 September 2012 by Luke Jones

Here’s what will happen when the Ravens welcome the Cleveland Browns to M&T Bank Stadium for their third prime-time home game in the first month of the season and their 27th overall meeting (Baltimore holds a 19-7 lead) against the AFC North foe in regular-season history …

1. With Browns cornerback Joe Haden still suspended, Anquan Boldin takes advantage of the attention paid to the Ravens’ speed to have a big night. The Browns will be without their best defensive back and currently rank 27th in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 269 yards through the air per game. Knowing how much speed the Ravens possess on the outside with Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones, defensive backs will cheat back a step, which will create more room underneath for Boldin and tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson. It’s been a quiet start to the season for Boldin, who has just 10 receptions for 118 yards, but he’ll follow Smith’s cue last week in reemerging as a significant threat in the passing game. With the Browns so concerned with the speedy receivers and focusing more on Pitta underneath, Boldin will have a sneaky 75-plus-yard performance and grab his second touchdown catch of the season.

2. Rookie Brandon Weeden becomes the latest Cleveland quarterback to fall victim to Ed Reed in the defensive backfield. The Browns have fielded a laundry list of dubious names at the quarterback position, which is a major reason why they’ve only enjoyed one playoff appearance since reentering the league in 1999. Weeden has looked more comfortable with each passing week after a four-interception performance against Philadelphia in the Browns’ season opener, but he has never played in a hostile environment like M&T Bank Stadium. Entering the season, Reed had tormented the Browns more than any other team in the NFL with 10 interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns. Weeden has never encountered a safety with the same ability as Reed, who will be licking his chops against a rookie quarterback likely to be pressing with his winless team sitting in the basement of the AFC North. Even if the Ravens are unable to create as much pressure as they’d like, the secondary is too talented to fall victim to a group that could only manage 14 points in a home game against Buffalo last week. As he did against the Bengals in Week 1, Reed will intercept a pass and return it for a touchdown to continue his longtime success against the Browns.

3. With wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi out, running back Trent Richardson receives plenty of work and the Baltimore defense is ready for him. Making it even more difficult for Weeden, the starting wideout will not be on the field for a team that already has few attractive options in the passing game. The 6-foot-2 Greg Little has shown flashes of being a promising receiver but still drops too many passes to make head coach Pat Shurmur feel comfortable, meaning the Browns’ best bet is to ride the back of Richardson on the ground and see if he is able to crack the Baltimore defense. This seemed like a more feasible plan when the Bengals had early success on the ground against Baltimore in Week 1, but the Ravens like the progress made at both outside linebacker spots since then. The ability of Paul Kruger, Courtney Upshaw, and Albert McClellan to set the edge against the run has been helpful in slowing the opposition’s ground game. Richardson is a tremendous talent who will likely break off a nice run here or there, but envisioning him performing well against a defense keying on him even more than normal seems too ambitious. Richardson could run for roughly 75 yards with a high number of carries, but the talented back won’t see nearly as much running room as the Browns would like to create.

4. Ray Rice owns the Cleveland Browns and shows that dominance in the second half by going over the 100-yard rushing mark. In eight career games against the Brown, Rice has shredded their defense for 775 rushing yards and ran for a personal-best 204 yards against Cleveland last December. He won’t approach a rushing total like that, but Rice should see his opportunities in the second half against a run defense tied for 22nd in the league. The Ravens will be aggressive early trying to throw the football and will then offer the Browns a heavier dose of Rice in the third and fourth quarters after building a comfortable lead. The only one who might be able to prevent Rice from eclipsing the century mark is offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, but it’s difficult to envision the Ravens staying away from the Pro Bowl running back when he’s put up several strong performances against the Browns over the first four years of his career.

5. John Harbaugh has never lost to the Browns and continues that streak as the Ravens collect a 30-14 win over Cleveland. The Browns finally appear to have a promising nucleus after drafting Weeden and Richardson as cornerstones of their offense and may finally have light at the end of the tunnel. However, they are playing a Thursday night game on the road against a team that is clearly better than them and holds a distinct advantage in nearly every phase of the game. The Ravens last lost to Cleveland on Nov. 18, 2007 when Phil Dawson’s controversial field goal forced overtime and the Browns pulled out the victory in the extra period. It would take a set of strange circumstances to imagine the Browns pulling off the upset and with the regular officials returning to work Thursday night, the chances of that happening appear slimmer. The Ravens win their ninth straight game over Cleveland, their 10th straight against an AFC North opponent, and their 13th straight at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens pass the quarter pole with a 3-1 record, which is impressive considering how much of a work in progress certain aspects of the team continue to be.

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EA Sports simulates Ravens as repeat AFC North winners, Upshaw Rookie of the Year

Posted on 27 August 2012 by WNST Staff

New England Patriots and Chicago Bears Capture Regular Season Crown in

Madden NFL 13 Simulation Powered by EA SPORTS Arena

Quarterbacks Reign as Tom Brady Wins MVP and Andrew Luck Named Offensive Rookie of the Year

August 27, 2012 –The Chicago Bears and New England Patriots won their respective divisions and took home the overall number one seeds in the playoffs according to the Madden NFL 13 Season Simulation, powered by EA SPORTS Arena. The Patriots followed up last year’s Super Bowl appearance with a dominant season, securing a 12-4 record on the arm of NFL MVP Tom Brady. Brady delighted fantasy football owners everywhere by tossing a record-tying 50 touchdown passes against only 8 interceptions.

The Bears matched the Patriots’ record, also going 12-4 to win a tightly contested NFC North. Chicago needed every win they could muster, as the Green Bay Packers also ended the season at 12-4, but with the Bears holding an edge in the tiebreakers the Packers were relegated to the 5th seed in the playoffs.

The two surprise playoff teams in the AFC were the Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) and Buffalo Bills (10-6), both ending long playoff droughts. The Chiefs were a particular shock, winning the AFC West with a record of 11-5 and earning Romeo Crennel Coach of the Year Honors.

The NFC experienced near total upheaval, with new champions in three of four divisions. The Atlanta Falcons (11-5) and Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) joined the Bears as new divisional winners, while only the San Francisco 49ers (11-5) were able to repeat amidst weak competition in the NFC West. In bombshell news, last year’s Super Bowl champion New York Giants didn’t even reach the postseason, finishing a disappointing 8-8.

Though the rebuilding Indianapolis Colts (4-12) had a tough season, fans were able to take solace in the fact that rookie quarterback and number one overall draft pick Andrew Luck took home Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Luck managed to outduel fellow highly-touted rookie Robert Griffin III, finishing the season with 4,170 yards, 32 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. On the defensive side of things, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Courtney Upshaw was able to step into an already intimidating unit and cause enough havoc to be named Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Other award winners include Detroit Lions wide receiver and Madden NFL 13 cover athlete Calvin Johnson, Jr. as Offensive Player of the Year (97 receptions for 1,572 yards and 16 touchdowns), and DeMarcus Ware of the Dallas Cowboys as Defensive Player of the Year (18 sacks).

For screenshots and video of the Madden NFL 13 Season Simulation, powered by EA SPORTS Arena, as well as box art and other assets, please visit http://maddennfl13.newslinevine.com/. 

Tune into G4’s X-Play on Monday, August 27th at 6:30/5:30pm CT to check out more video of the Madden NFL 13 Season Simulation.


NFL 2012 Season Awards (as simulated by Madden NFL 13):

• NFL MVP – Tom Brady, New England Patriots

• Offensive Player of the Year – Calvin Johnson, Jr., Detroit Lions

• Defensive Player of the Year – DeMarcus Ware, Dallas Cowboys

• Offensive Rookie of the Year – Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

• Defensive Rookie of the Year – Courtney Upshaw, Baltimore Ravens

• Coach of the Year – Romeo Crennel, Kansas City Chief

Top Ten Offensive Performers

Quarterback
Player Team Yards TDs INTs
Drew Brees NO

5399

48

13

Tom Brady NE

5374

50

8

Mathew Stafford DET

5288

40

14

Aaron Rodgers GB

5245

49

9

Eli Manning NYG

4853

31

11

Peyton Manning DEN

4612

35

7

Matt Ryan ATL

4602

34

7

Philip Rivers SD

4475

35

12

Jay Cutler CHI

4215

36

18

Andrew Luck IND

4170

32

20

Running Back
Player Team Yards TDs
Darren McFadden OAK

1523

16

Arian Foster HOU

1501

18

Ray Rice BAL

1425

17

LeSean McCoy PHI

1386

14

Marshawn Lynch SEA

1317

14

Chris Johnson TEN

1309

12

Matt Forte CHI

1250

9

Adrian Peterson MIN

1118

10

Maurice Jones-Drew JAX

1115

10

Fred Jackson BUF

1109

7

Wide Receiver
Player Team Rec Yards TDs
Calvin Johnson, Jr. DET

97

1572

16

Wes Welker NE

111

1430

7

Julio Jones ATL

89

1326

8

Jimmy Graham NO

100

1301

13

Larry Fitzgerald ARI

87

1222

10

AJ Green CIN

79

1189

10

Rob Gronkowski NE

82

1188

13

Brandon Marshall CHI

80

1185

8

Roddy White ATL

101

1169

7

Eric Decker DEN

90

1150

6

Top Defensive Performers

Sacks
Player Team Sacks
Jared Allen

MIN

19

DeMarcus Ware

DAL

18

Jason Pierre-Paul

NYG

17

Aldon Smith

SF

16

Jason Babin

PHI

14

Chris Long

STL

14

Clay Mathews

GB

13

Von Miller

DEN

13

Tamba Hali

KC

10

Brian Orakpo

WSH

10

Interceptions
Player Team INTs
Charles Woodson

GB

7

Eric Weddle

SD

6

Corey Webster

NYG

5

Kyle Arrington

NE

5

Darrelle Revis

NYJ

5

Brandon Browner

SEA

5

Courtland Finnegan

STL

5

Ed Reed

BAL

5

Brandon Flowers

DAL

5

Nnamdi Asomugha

PHI

5

 

2012 NFL Playoff Seeding

                        AFC                            NFC
  1. New England Patriots (12-4)
1. Chicago Bears (12-4)
  1. Baltimore Ravens (11-5)
2. San Francisco 49ers (11-5)

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Winning Time Is Now Time For The Ravens

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Winning Time Is Now Time For The Ravens

Posted on 15 July 2012 by Robert Testoni

It is very easy to get caught up in the minutia of the Ravens off-season. None of that really matters until 7 PM on September 10th against the Cincinnati Bengals. I guess I do not find any injuries, contract issues, players who talk, too worrying because the Ravens have one of the top 3 organizations in the NFL. That being said; when I looking at the season ahead, I start with 10 wins automatically and work my way from there.

It is going to be difficult to match the 12-4 record last year because the schedule, on paper, is more difficult. We trade the NFC West for the East, and since we finished in first, welcome New England and Houston. Not to mention a visit for a Raven nemesis, Peyton Manning and his new team, the Denver Broncos on December 16th. (Frankly, I don’t think he will make the trip to Baltimore because of injury) A trip to Kansas City, other than the Barbeque, and Negro League Hall of Fame is never any fun, and flying to San Diego the week after playing in Pittsburgh is a recipe for disaster.

For all the harassment Joe Flacco takes, he is one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the league. With the league rules being what they are, the offense should be fine. The Ray Rice issue will be resolved, but either way, he isn’t going to sit out the entire year and cost himself 7.7 Million. Keep an eye on Bernard Pierce. He is a bruising running back with good deceptive 4.49 speed; ask Maryland. Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta will play a major role in the red zone again this year, and Torrey Smith has a full year underneath his belt. It is not like this offense was horrible last year; they scored 378 points, fourth best in the conference.

The Terrell Suggs injury, although damaging, isn’t the end of the world. If anything, this organization has drafted and signed free agent s well. As I responded at Hooters during the semi finals of the Baltimore Sports Media Superstar contest, a combination of Courtney Upshaw, Paul Kruger, and Sergio Kindle need to seal that edge of the line and get pressure on the quarterback. If they cannot do that to a reasonable level, this could be a long year. This has become a quarterback driven league and he only way to combat it is by moving him off his spot. Sacks are great, quarterback pressures is the real stat. Our defensive backfield is as good is at has been since the Super Bowl era of Chris McAlister, Duane Starks, Rod Woodson, and Kim Herring. The only other concern I have is the pass coverage of our linebackers. Ray Lewis is great, but his pass coverage is below par at this point. He needs come off the field on passing situations, but that is assuming we have someone better, and I do not think that is the case. All this being said, the success of this defense will rest on the front line and how quickly they can get into the backfield. Pernell McPhee, Halota Ngata, and the aforementioned players on the other side of the line need to create havoc, plain and simple!

The one thing about Baltimore that cannot be overstated is how great our home field advantage M&T Bank Stadium has been over the years. In fact, since Joe Flacco has been our signal caller, the Ravens are 27-5 in regular season home games. In that time period only New England has a better home record in the AFC.

Looking at the rest of the division, Pittsburgh is always formidable, but with Todd Haley taking over the offense, and wanting to run more, they could take a step back until a comfort level is reached. Cleveland is still in a rebuilding mode. They must take a page out of the Baltimore Orioles playbook. Everyone is all over Cincinnati and with good reason. I really like Andy Dalton, and A. J. Green, but are they still owned by Mike Brown? Enough said!

All in all and with limited injuries, I look at the Ravens going 11-5, winning the AFC North and getting another home game in the playoffs. I think a bye is going to be more difficult to accomplish, as New England, and Houston have easier divisions to navigate. With the bad taste in my mouth (it was not the chicken wing I was eating) from last year, I am chomping at the bit for this season to get going. Come on September 10th!!!

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Game by Game Breakdown of the Baltimore Ravens 2012 Season

Posted on 13 July 2012 by Big Chee

August 9th is right around the corner, which is the first preseason game for the Ravens in Atlanta. August 17th, the Raven Nation will be coming down to see the Purple & Black battle Detroit in their first of two home preseason games. And before you know it, the Purple Patio at Mother’s will be popping off on Monday, September 10th, as the Ravens host the Cincinnati Bengals at 7PM.

I am going to go through all of the Baltimore Ravens regular season games and provide a prediction and summary of how we feel the game will play out. Injuries are sure to occur throughout the season, so I tried to take some trends into consideration when making these predictions. For example, It is a pretty safe bet based on his career that Matt Schaub is not likely to play a full 16 game schedule, based on his history.

Anyway, here we go…

Week One: vs Bengals Mon, Sep 10th 7PM

2012 is a new season. The team needs to move on from the heartbreak of 2011 just like Kris Humphries needs to move on from Kim Kardashian and stop bashing her to TMZ. Ray Lewis is still the heart and soul of this team and he will make sure that they set the tone for the year starting in Week One. Cincinnati is an organization that is finally making the right decisions to rid personalities that are detrimental to their cohesiveness, but the will not be ready for the veteran Ravens who will have a chip on their shoulder.

Baltimore 34 Cincinnati 10

Week Two: Ravens (1-0) at Eagles Sun, Sep 16th 1PM

Baltimore will suffer their first loss of the season to the Eagles up in Philadelphia. Why? Because this is what the Ravens do. They can look so great one week, then whether it’s being overconfident or simply being outmatched at certain positions, they break down and fail to win. Look at Weeks One & Two last year. They dominated Pittsburgh defending AFC Champion Pittsburgh 35-7 only to lay an egg the following week in Tennessee 13-26. The same will occur in 2012.

The offseason acquisitions for Philadelphia are going to wreak havoc on Baltimore in this game. They spent their first two rounds in the draft on Defensive Lineman:  Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox in the first and DE Vinny Curry from Marshall in the second. Pairing them with outside threats Jason Babin and Trent Cole, along with Cullen Jenkins up the middle, this Eagles pass rush sure is vicious. Ray Rice will be stuffed and Joe Flacco will be under duress all afternoon. Not to that it will only be Week Two, and Michael Vick should still be healthy. In addition, Vick will not have to worry about Terrell Suggs coming after him, which will allow the elusive Vick along with LeSean McCoy to set up the pass with the run onto victory.

Philadelphia 23, Baltimore 13

Week Three: Ravens (1-1) vs Patriots Sun, Sep 23 8:20PM

If you thought the Ravens had a chip on their shoulder coming into Week One of 2012, Week Three will begin a new meaning to this cliché. This is the team that the Ravens beat in last year’s AFC Championship, just not on the scoreboard. Damn, Billy Cundiff & Lee Evans. Combine that with the home field advantage that will be present at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday Night, along with the sting of last week’s loss, the Ravens will be ready for this game. The Patriots will no doubt make this is a competitive fight just like they have in this classic battle, but Joe Flacco will make sure he throws to the reliable Anquan Boldin this time on his game winning drive to win it for Baltimore.

Baltimore 27 New England 24

Week Four: Ravens (2-1) vs Browns Thu, Sep 27th 8:20PM

Like it or not, Thursday Night Football is going to be a weekly occurrence from here on out. The Ravens will be on short rest from Sunday Night, but at least get to stay in the 410 when Cleveland comes into town.

I interviewed Brandon Weeden back in the spring and I fully believe this guy is mature enough and has the NFL talent to be successful at the next level, even at 28 years old. However, he never saw a defense like the Ravens in the Big 12. And that’s just assuming he is the starter for this game. If Colt McCoy starts, he probably won’t be able to shake the hit Arthur Jones laid on him last year to knock him out of the game in Week 16.

Baltimore 20 Cleveland 9

Week Five: Baltimore (3-1) at Kansas City Sun, Oct 7th 1PM

Courtney Upshaw is going to start getting accustomed to life in the NFL by Week 5. Add his emergence to Haloti Ngata and Ray Lewis’ ability to not only stuff the run but pressure the quarterback, and that equals a long day for Matt Cassell. Offensively for Baltimore, Ray Rice should be able to have a breakout game against the Kansas City defense. Dontari Poe is a rookie at the DT spot, and it remains to be seen if Kansas City reached too high for the DT out of Memphis. Regardless, he will clog the middle and Cam Cameron will scheme a way for Ray Rice to run and catch the ball outside the tackles to have his biggest game of the season thus far.

Baltimore 28 Kansas City 13

Week Six: Baltimore (4-1) vs Dallas Sun, Oct 14th 1PM

Baltimore Ravens fans are going to have this week circled, just because it is against the Dallas Cowboys. I cannot stress this enough to the Raven players, go about your business as usual. The Dallas Cowboys are not a good football team. Their QB is a 32 year old choke artist who has the same amount of playoff wins as Tim Tebow. They cut their shutdown CB Terrence Newman who would have certainly helped in the development of 1st round pick Morris Claiborne. WR Laurent Robinson, who had 11 TDs last season, signed with Jacksonville. Keith Brooking is 36 and will never be on the level Ray Lewis is. Finally, Dallas was never able to create a Hernandez/Gronkowski type scenario down in Texas with Martellus Bennett and Jason Witten. Bennett did not work out and signed with NY in the offseason. Ravens will take care of a below average Dallas team easily and keep it rolling in 2012.

Baltimore 31 Dallas 17

Week Seven: Baltimore (5-1) at Houston Sun, Oct 21st 1PM

Now, this game really determines whether or not Matt Schaub is on the field or on crutches. If it is the latter, the Baltimore Ravens do like they did in last year’s playoffs and move on to 6-1. If Matt Schaub does play, however, that is a different ball game.

I mention that the Ravens will dearly miss Terrell Suggs Week Two vs. Philadelphia. The Texans will make sure they keep Matt Schaub protected and do what they have to do to keep Courtney Upshaw from hitting him on his blindside. That means Matt Schaub is going to have plenty of time to find Andre Johnson (pending he can stay healthy until Week Seven) and Arian Foster in the flats. As far as Houston’s defense, the unit has only gotten better under Wade Phillips. Despite starting 2012 without Demeco Ryans and Mario Williams, Phillips will develop blitzing schemes with guys like Bradie James and Brian Cushing in the 3-4 to cause Flacco to have a less than stellar performance going into the bye week.

Houston 24 Baltimore 20

Week Eight: Bye Week

Week Nine: Baltimore (5-2) at Cleveland Sun, Nov 4th 1PM

Since John Harbaugh has taken over the reign as the Head Coach of the Baltimore Ravens, they are 4-0 after the bye week. That will not change in 2012, despite the loss to Houston two weeks prior. By Week 9, Trent Richardson will have the rookie campaign everyone anticipated, and should be able to find some holes throughout the afternoon. However, Brandon Weeden’s lack of options to throw the ball will ultimately hurt this team’s chances in keeping it competitive.

Baltimore 27 Cleveland 14

Week Ten: Baltimore (6-2) vs Oakland Sun, Nov 11th 1PM

Pending no season ending injuries or mental breakdowns that result in another retirement, Carson Palmer will be underway in his first full season as Oakland’s starting QB. History suggests that he will find success against the Ravens, as he is 9-4 in his career against Baltimore with 15 TD passes.

However, Carson Palmer has not been the same since that knee injury from the dive to the knee by Kimo von Oelhoffen  back in the 2006 playoffs. He no longer steps up and delivers tight, confident throws. And when Ray Lewis smells blood, the rest of the defense does too. The Ravens Defense will pressure Palmer all afternoon and LaDarius Webb and Jimmy Smith will make him pay for the rushed throws.

Baltimore 35 Oakland 10

Week Eleven: Baltimore (7-2) at Pittsburgh Sun, Nov 18th 8:20PM

This game is indicated as a Flex Game, and to be honest I am not really sure what they mean by that. All I know is this game needs to be kept as a Sunday Night Game. Who can forget the Ravens OT thriller in 2009 when they triumphed 23-20 against a Dennis Dixon led Steelers team? Or in 2010 on Sunday Night, when it was near twenty degrees and Pittsburgh triumphed 13-10. This game will have the same feel. Pittsburgh is always a strong contender to win the AFC North and 2012 will be no different. In a slugfest, Ben Roethlisberger will just slightly outduel Joe Flacco and will have the last drive to set up a FG, giving Pittsburgh their first win against Baltimore since January 2011.

Pittsburgh 16 Baltimore 14

Week Twelve: Baltimore (7-3) at San Diego Sun, Nov 25th 4:05 PM

Really? Again? The Baltimore Ravens, less than a year later, travel back out to San Diego to face the Chargers. If you remember last year, you will know it was not pretty. Philip Rivers and Vincent Jackson were the backbone behind a 34-14 thumping of the Ravens, engineered by Norv Turner’s ability to understand and expose the Ravens Defense.

This year, there is no Vincent Jackson, but by Week Twelve, we probably will not be seeing reigning AFC Defensive MVP Terrell Suggs back as well. Norv Turner will once again find a way to find holes in the Ravens Defense, this time utilizing more Philip Rivers to Ryan Matthews in the flats. Baltimore will certainly keep this game competitive until the last drive, but will not leave sunny San Diego victorious.

San Diego 27 Baltimore 24

Week Thirteen: Baltimore (7-4) vs Steelers Sun, Dec 2nd 4:25PM

The official listing is 4:25 start time, but this game once again is a flex option, and I fully anticipate the NFL putting this game on Sunday Night Prime Time. And by Week 13, as is the case every season, Ben Roethlisberger’s body will start breaking down again. He will still play, but not as effectively as he did just two weeks ago. Not only that, but Ray Rice makes a statement against Baltimore’s biggest rivals in Week 13. Just like Ben, the aging Polamalu and Ryan Clark in Pittsburgh secondary will be nursing injuries as well and will not be able to take down the compact Rice once he breaks free. Baltimore gets their season back on track at home and moves to 8-4.

Baltimore 20 Pittsburgh 13

Week Fourteen: Baltimore (8-4) at Washington Sun, Dec 9th 1 PM

The Battle of the Beltway in baseball between the Orioles and Nationals has become quite the hot commodity. Each game at Camden Yards was a sellout during their interleague series this year. Both teams are improving and when they face each other from here on out, it should continue to be competitive.

The same cannot be said about the Ravens and Redskins. Baltimore is the far superior team. And by Week Fourteen, I fully expect RG3 to be shut down for the season. He will have sustained an injury because he is too small and his body will have not fully developed where it needs to be in the NFL. That means Rex Grossman is at the helm, and by Week Fourteen, Jimmy Smith will be mentioned as a Pro Bowler in his 2nd season. The rush will force Rex Grossman to turn the ball over numerous times and Jimmy Smith will take a pick to the house, as the Ravens shut out Washington.

Baltimore 24 Washington 0

Week Fifteen: Baltimore (9-4) vs Broncos Sun, Dec 16th 1PM

Peyton Manning was not kind to the Baltimore Ravens during his 14 year career in Indianapolis. Peyton went  7-2, with 2443 yards and 17 touchdowns. That was then, and this is now. The future Hall of Famer is now without the plethora of options in Indianapolis that include Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison and Dallas Clark. Sure, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker have been solid in their brief careers, but they will not have had the experience to fully grasp Peyton’s complex offensive schemes in the first year.

Dean Pees will be in his 14th game as Baltimore’s Defensive Coordinator, and he is also no stranger to Peyton Manning, as he was defensive coordinator the New England Patriots from 2006-2009 during the riveting Pats-Colts rivalry in its heyday. Pees is also very familiar with Willis McGahee, while McGahee was a member of the Baltimore Ravens. The defense will be ready to contain the pass and stop the run, and there will be no Tebow magic in Baltimore Week 15.

Baltimore 17 Denver 14

Week Sixteen: Baltimore (10-4) vs Giants Sun, Dec 23rd 1PM

It seems like every year, the New York Giants play just above mediocre football all year and somehow find a way to limp into the playoffs. It is doubtful the Giants will have clinched the playoffs by Week 16, and they will have to wait until Week 17 if they want to have the same magic as 2011.

The key matchup in this game that I see being the difference is the Giants Offensive Line trying to stop the rush of Haloti Ngata in the middle. Giants veteran David Diehl was ranked the worst pass blocking tackle and guard in 2011 by ProFootballFocus. The team also let 33 year old tackle Kareem McKenzie walk. This leads the Giants with question marks on who will fill this void, whether it will be free agent signing Sean Locklear or 4th round pick Brandon Mosley. Terrell Suggs could be back for this game as well. Whether Suggs is back at 90%, or it’s Courtney Upshaw still in his spot, the combo along with Ray and the rest of the defense will have Eli flustered all afternoon.

Baltimore 20 NY Giants 17

Week Seventeen: Baltimore (11-4) at Cincinnati  Sun, Dec 31PM

The Ravens are coming off a huge win against the defending champions. By this point, they will have already secured a playoff spot, and this game will help determine the AFC North. Judging on the past in Baltimore, this sounds like a letdown, right?

Wrong.

The Ravens know how important playing at home field is for their chance at another run to the Super Bowl. They were 9-0 at M&T Bank Stadium last year, including the playoffs. You better believe Ray Lewis will have his defense ready to go and finish off the regular season the way they started it: with a victory.

Baltimore 23 Cincinnati 19

 

So there you have it. The Baltimore Ravens will go 12-4 and make the 2012 playoffs. What do you think?

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Your Monday Reality Check-Shouldn’t Rice & Flacco deals have been done by now?

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Your Monday Reality Check-Shouldn’t Rice & Flacco deals have been done by now?

Posted on 04 June 2012 by Glenn Clark

It was as if there were some in the sports broadcasting universe that wanted to remind me that the Baltimore Orioles have been struggling mightily as of late.

Sure, they’re just one game out of first place at the time I type this, but the Birds sadly appear to be in a downward spiral that unfortunately most of us expected.

I’ve been a regular “Baltimore expert” for SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio since the channel’s inception, and I rotate having conversations with hosts about the O’s and the Baltimore Ravens. When I received a call last week asking me to appear on the channel, I assumed the conversation would go in the direction of the O’s, as I’ve made about four Orioles-related guest spots already this season.

But when the producer asked me if I’d be interested in talking some Ravens football, I was admittedly caught off guard. “It’s still baseball season” I thought. Just one night later I received a call from another producer on the channel, also asking me to make an appearance to discuss the Purple & Black.

So on both Friday & Saturday night of this past weekend I found myself talking Ravens football across the country on SXM. It was perhaps the single greatest reminder that in Charm City, a “June Swoon” is a great reminder that Training Camp isn’t particularly far away.

As the 2011 football season ended, there were two main narratives surrounding the defending AFC North Champs. One was surrounding the pending free agency of RB Ray Rice. The other surrounded the future of QB Joe Flacco, who was set to enter the final year of his rookie contract. The Ravens’ season ended 132 days ago in Foxborough (at least as of the time I wrote this) and yet seemingly little progress has been made regarding either situation.

It leads to the question (at least for me), “what’s taking so long to get this stuff done?”

ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio said in a recent appearance on “The Reality Check” (an excellent afternoon radio program on AM1570 WNST.net) that Rice’s agent Todd France was dead set on getting a deal similar to contracts given to Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (seven years, $100 million with $36 million guaranteed) or Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson (four years, $53 million with $30 million guaranteed). The Ravens are believed to be more interested in a deal similar to those recently given to Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy (five years, $45 million with $20.76 million guaranteed) or Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (five years, $43.5 million with $20.75 guaranteed).

On top of that, a source with knowledge of talks revealed to me in recent weeks the Rice camp has a desire to see the running back’s deal exceed the overall value of Flacco’s.

A Carroll County Times report this weekend indicated the Ravens “aren’t anywhere close” to getting a deal done with Flacco. Flacco’s negotiating ability has been limited by the fact that contracts signed by quarterbacks not named Peyton Manning this offseason have been less than overwhelming financially. Manning landed a five year, $96 million deal, but if he’s healthy the Denver Broncos believe him capable of being Peyton Manning. The highlights of other QB contracts this offseason have been San Francisco 49ers QB Alex Smith (three years, worth up to $33 million with with $16.5 million guaranteed) and Seattle Seahawks QB Matt Flynn (three years, $26 million with $10 million guaranteed).

Neither deal is helpful to Flacco’s agent Joe Linta, although despite all of the goofy conversation nationally about Flacco’s standing against other National Football League quarterbacks, there simply could not be any argument either of those two quarterbacks have accomplished as much as Flacco. Humorously, Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo’s deal is up a season after Flacco’s. There had been rumors the Chicago Bears were interested in getting a new deal done with QB Jay Cutler, a decision that could have been helpful in figuring out the parameters of a Flacco contract.

Remember when I asked “what’s taking so long to get this stuff done?” Yeah, I’m aware that I’ve essentially answered my own question.

In both of my chats on SiriusXM this weekend I was asked what expected would ultimately happen with these situations. It was remarkably difficult to answer.

(Continued on Page 2)

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