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Ray Rice Should Return This Week
Ray Rice is officially listed on the team’s injury report as questionable, thus making him a game-time decision on Sunday. On Monday, head coach John Harbaugh said that Rice had been “in the ballpark” to play against the Texans, which would put him “really in the ballpark” to participate against the Bills.
Rice returned to practice in a limited capacity on Wednesday.
Throughout the first three games this season, the Ravens rushing attack has been lackluster to say the least. Backup Bernard Pierce only averaged 2.7 YPC in his first career start, but that’s been status quo for the Ravens, who are 25th-best in the NFL with a yards per carry average of 2.6.
Should Rice return this week?
Buy: I’m buying Rice’s return, but it’s more like a test drive. Pierce is capable of carrying more of the load and the amount of Rice’s touches should be determined by the flow of the game on Sunday. Rice is certainly more valuable as the season goes on, and a hip injury is nothing to mess with.
Look for Pierce to have a decent game against the Bills, who are currently tied for 30th in rush defense.
The Ravens Lack Leadership
By now, most in Baltimore are as familiar with the name “Sweet Pea” as they are with some of the names at the bottom of the Ravens roster. While the players involved were being responsible and riding in a party bus, the alleged incident happened at 3:00 a.m. the night after a game, so players probably showed up to work a little hungover the next day. That’s never good, even if Mondays are just for light meetings.
Ray Lewis utilized his new career as an analyst to not only put another feather in his cap for being one of the greatest leaders of all time, but to question the amount of leadership in the locker room he had full reign over for the previous 17 seasons.
SELL: There is a difference between leadership and someone being a veteran. This isn’t the first time that Bryant McKinnie’s name has surfaced around a party, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. McKinnie may not be a leader, but he knows what is right and wrong and has had the past 12 years in the NFL to figure it out.
Players have money, they’re celebrities and they have a lot of fun. It’s hard to judge what they do until you’re in their position. They showed they were responsible by taking a party bus and I certainly don’t expect everyone to just go out to a nice dinner on their birthday. The story is embarrassing to an extent, but get off their backs. As Joe Flacco said earlier this week, “Ray knows better.”
The Ravens Defense is One of the League’s Best
After being embarrassed by Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos to kick off the 2013 regular season, the Ravens defense has been stellar, not allowing a touchdown in their last two contests. Shutting down the Cleveland Browns is always great, but excuses will always be made given how bad their offense is. The same can’t be said for the Houston Texans, widely considered one of the most balanced offensive teams in the NFL. Though the Ravens were fully capable of winning, the fashion in which they did was quite a pleasant surprise.
After the thrashing from the Broncos, the numbers are inflated as the defense ranks 15th overall. But, are they better than that?
BUY: The defense may be ranked 15th, but you have to ignore that number and not only take into account how they’ve played, but other stats as well. In their only loss, the Ravens kept the Broncos close through halftime until the wheels fell off. They were capable of beating the Broncos, but momentum is a double-edged sword.
The run defense is back on par to what fans in Baltimore are used to (4th, 74.7 YPG) and the red zone defense is continuing where they left off last year, only allowing touchdowns in 40% of the trips (all of those coming in the Broncos game).
This defense is good, and barring injury, it’ll only continue to get better.