Reality: The Ravens /Patriots game next week was scheduled to be the Sunday Night game on NBC at 8:30pm. But NBC used their option to “flex” the Eagles/Bears game into that spot, moving the Ravens game to 4:25pm on CBS.
Perception: Everyone thinks the NFL is just trying to stick it to Baltimore again. But this is more about rules in the NFL TV contracts than anything else.
If you look at the NFL schedule right now, there doesn’t appear to be a Sunday Night Football game. However, the NFL (not NBC) will pick which game will be “flexed” into the SNF spot six days in advance of the game (per Patrick Gleason of Ravens PR), and that could be the Ravens/Bengals game.
According to John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal (via ProFootballTalk), the league made the decision in part to have maximum flexibility for the regular-season finale in Week 17.
The current broadcast contracts (which expire this year) require that the gap between games pilfered from CBS and FOX for Sunday night be no more than three. If Pats-Ravens hadn’t been flexed, the gap would have been at three, with CBS losing 25 and FOX losing 22.
Without taking a game from FOX for Week 16, only FOX could have lost a game for Week 17. Now, both networks are in play for Week 17. The goal for the league (and it’s always an NFL decision, not an NBC decision) when selecting the prime-time game in Week 17 is to identify a game that has playoff implications unaffected by any of the outcomes in the other 15 games. That becomes easiest when two teams are squaring off for a division title, with the winner securing a playoff spot and the loser earning a trip home.
It really doesn’t matter to me. We’ll have Jim Nantz and Phil Simms calling the game, and they are some of the best football announcers around. It’s also much better for my bedtime, as the game will end by 8pm, instead of 12 midnight.
Reality: Tight End Dennis Pitta played 80.6% of his routes, Sunday, out of the Slot.
Perception: Matt Vensel of The Baltimore Sun points out that 80.6% out of the slot is the most among all NFL tight ends this season. The overwhelming thought in the off-season was that Pitta would replace Boldin as this teams clutch receiver. It appears the coaches agree with that notion. So maybe it’s time to change Pitta’s title from tight end to wide receiver.
Reality: Calvin Johnson has 75 catches for 1,348 yards this season. He is 2nd in the NFL in receiving yards, and 2nd in the NFL in touchdowns.
Perception: The Ravens will have their hands full trying to defend MegaTron. They gave up 258 all-purpose yards to Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson this past Sunday. That won’t cut it this Monday night. The secondary will need to be at their best to stay with Johnson. Jimmy Smith has played extremely well this season. He went 7 games without giving up a touchdown, and he hasn’t allowed more than 43 yards to a receiver since Week 3. Smith and Webb will need to be at their best this week. But our safeties will also need to be on their game, especially rookie Matt Elam.
Reality: In reference to Calvin Johnson, Matt Elam said, “He’s pretty old, so I don’t know how physical he’ll be. He’s a big guy, but he’s older. I guess when they get older they’re not going to be as physical, you know what I’m saying? We’re going to have to be physical, make him uncomfortable.”
Perception: Uh-oh! Does Elam not watch football? Does he not know that Johnson is the best receiver in the NFL? Does he not see him totally manhandle the opposing defenses? After the reports of his quote went viral, Elam tweeted “I will never disrespect greatness.” Did that make it worse? Is he saying Johnson isn’t greatness? Because he totally disrespected him. MegaTron is only 28… hardly old. Elam is 6 years younger than Johnson, but he’s also 7 inches shorter and around 25 pounds lighter.
Did Elam not see what Johnson did last time someone called him out? Back in October, Dez Bryant of the Cowboys said, “I can do whatever Calvin Johnson can do.” Oh yeah? All Johnson did against the Cowboys that week was became the fifth player in league history to top 300 receiving yards in a game. His 329-yard effort fell just seven yards shy of Flipper Anderson’s NFL record, established in 1989.
Way to give the best receiver in the NFL ammunition to go off on you Monday night!
Reality: The Ravens haven’t played in Detroit in 8 years, and are 1-5 on the road this year.
Perception: The Ravens have not played well on the road this year. They will need to find a way to win at least one of their remaining two road games. I would think this would be the game to win, as the Bengals in Cincinnati on the final week of the season with a home playoff game on the line, will not be easy. I like our chances Sunday and Joe Flacco, playing his first game in Detroit, is excited too.
“I never make a big deal about playing outside, but every time you go into a dome and you start warming up, you realize how awesome it is to be able to throw the ball inside. As a quarterback you always want great conditions. A dome obviously presents that. But we’re still going to have to go play fundamental football and take care of business.”
I see the Ravens pulling out a 27-21 win Monday night.