Baltimore At Chicago (-3)
The Ravens head to Chicago where they will take on the favored Bears (-3) at Solder Field. The weather will play a factor in the game. While temperatures are expected to be very moderate at kickoff hovering in the mid-60’s, the seasonal temps will be accompanied by thunderstorms and steady winds that could gust up to 50 mph.
Sounds like a pretty ugly forecast that could force the offenses to attack by ground and in the case of the Bears rushing defense and the Ravens rushing offense, ugly is a pretty appropriate description.
The Ravens ground attack (sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it?) has been abysmal. The blocking schemes are a mess and the running backs seem to lack confidence and a willingness to attack the line of scrimmage. Compounding the problem is a lack of a threatening tight end and a slot receiver. Without either, inside linebackers have shown a willingness to blitz seemingly without repercussions.
Fortunately for the Ravens the Bears are the 31st ranked team defending the run so if they can’t get it going in the Windy City, they may never get untracked in 2013. The Bears are missing Pro Bowlers LB Lance Briggs and CB Charles Tillman from their lineup. They are relatively light on the defensive front as well, relying on quickness that can be mitigated by a sloppy track.
The Bears have shown an ability to produce turnovers and are +8 in that category. Mix in Joe Flacco’s inconsistencies and the windy conditions and the possibilities are strong that the Bears will produce another turnover or three. However that task grows a little taller for the Bears without turnover machine Tillman.
The Monsters of the Midway field the league’s 15th rated rushing offense and they will take on a Ravens defense ranked 10th defending the run. Matt Forte can do damage if he gets outside the edge containment so it will be important for Terrell Suggs and Courtney Upshaw to set the perimeter and force Forte inside. The Ravens have allowed just one rushing TD this season.
In the passing game Chicago fields a dangerous tandem in the form of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery however their production will be challenged without strong-armed QB Jay Cutler who is out with a high ankle sprain. He’ll give way to Josh McCown who is mobile and lacks the Cutler fastball. The weather will not be McCown’s friend as his mobility is likely to be checked by the expected sloppy track and an at-best average arm weakened by strong winds.
- The Ravens have 32 sacks while the Bears have only 14
- Joe Flacco has been sacked 30 times while Bears’ QB’s have hit the deck just 14 times
- The Bears are +8 in the turnover category while the Ravens are -3
- Special teams are pretty much dead even between the teams
- Ravens are 1-4 on the road while the Bears are 3-2 at Soldier Field
- The Ravens are penalized on average 62 yards per game while the Bears are flagged for 40 yards per contest
Last Game: 1-0 v. Winner, 1-0 v. Spread
Season Total: 4-5 v. Winner, 5-4 v. Spread
In a must-win game over the Bengals last week, the Ravens reached a pivotal point when an Andy Dalton Hail Mary pass was completed to AJ Green to force the tie and overtime. The Ravens could have had a meltdown but they resisted it, pulled it together in overtime and won it with a Justin Tucker walk-off field goal.
The Ravens’ resiliency was impressive and they’ll need to build on that in Chicago. The Ravens struggle on the road but the combination of new life courtesy of Tucker’s foot, poor conditions that will slow down the fast break offense of the Bears and key injuries will make it tough for the Bears to hold off the Ravens.
After the rain, wind, clouds, thunder, lightning and 0:00 on the game clock it will be Baltimore wearing the smiling faces and sporting a (5-5) record with four of the next 5 games set to be played at M&T Bank Stadium.
RAVENS 17, BEARS 13