Ravens Define “Any Given Sunday” in 2017

Street Talk Ravens Define “Any Given Sunday” in 2017

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Perception is Reality

REALITY: The Baltimore Ravens lost 44-7 and won 40-0 in the same season.

Perception: This is why “Any Given Sunday” is a real thing in the NFL. Yes, it rings true for all sports, but for some reason it seems to relate to football more than the others. Yes, you have those teams that you can usually count on (i.e. Patriots and Browns) but they even shock you every now and then.

This “week to week” league is another reason why it’s so important to simply make it to the playoffs. Once you get to the “second season”, anything can truly happen and many times it does. If the Ravens can figure out how to be even a little bit consistent, they could cause some teams trouble, if they can make the playoffs. But once again, that’s a big “if”. You can’t predict anything in this league.

REALITY: Justin Tucker is the second most accurate kicker in NFL history, of kickers with at least 100 extra point attempts.

Perception: The top 5 most accurate kickers in NFL history are all active, with the Cowboys’ Dan Bailey 0.6% ahead of Tucker. Baily (29 years old) is 178-of-198 in 7 seasons in the NFL. Tucker (27) is 183-of-205 in his 6 seasons. Neither has ever missed an extra point.

The Ravens have been extremely lucky to have Tucker and have had Matt Stover, two of the best kickers to ever step on the field. A lot of teams go through multiple kickers in a season, trying to find one they can count on. There have not been many seasons that the Ravens have had to do that. In fact, the Ravens had only missed two extra points in team history… one kicker has missed three this season alone.

Obviously, the 2000 Super Bowl season was an important year for the Ravens’ kicker. Stover saved their season multiple times that year. It seems like this year is another year that the Ravens season could be saved by a kicker. Too many times, the Ravens have not been able to get in the end zone and, instead, rely on their kicker to carry them.

But at least they have a kicker to rely on. And his strong and consistent foot helps them win games too. He is also a lot of fun to watch.

REALITY: JuJu Smith-Schuster looks like the latest great Pittsburgh WR the Ravens had a chance to draft, and didn’t.

Perception: The Ravens can’t draft quality receivers. As good as they are about finding kickers, they can’t find pass catchers. And Perriman is another perfect example of the issues they have had at finding receivers. Whether it’s dropping passes or not being able to stay healthy, the Ravens struggle with drafting receivers. But they don’t seem to struggle with acquiring quality veteran receivers.

Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin, Lee Evans, Steve Smith Sr., Mike Wallace, and Jeremy Maclin are all receivers who helped the Ravens. So it’s time for General Manager Ozzie Newsome to pick up his game again and help this offense.

REALITY: The Ravens rank 11th in the NFL in Rush Defense.

Perception: Brandon Williams is a difference maker. Perhaps he was rusty in Minnesota, because against Miami, he changed the game. And for the most part, he makes the Ravens D a lot better when he is in the game.

The Dolphins (former) Jay Ajayi rushed 13 times for just 23 yards last Thursday, that is after his first run of the game went for 21 yards. So yes, 12 times for 2 yards, was how he finished. Williams had a lot to do with that.

As Williams is getting healthy, hopefully his teammates follow suit. If the Ravens can get healthy, their season will get better. This is a good football team that has simply really struggled with their “next man up”. If they had half of the guys who are on IR back, this team would be first in the division and looking good in the AFC.

REALITY: Ravens running back Alex Collins leads the NFL in yards per attempt (6.0)

Perception: Most fans have been saying it for years, as I have… the Ravens need to rely on their running game to win them games. And it usually does, when they give it a chance.

Their starting running back is gaining 6 yards per carry. So, if he rushes twice, he gains 12 yards… a first down. So why aren’t they giving it to him more? He only had 18 rushing attempts against Miami. Buck Allen had 17. It’s good to split the load, so I’m fine with that, and I’m fine with 35 carries between the two, but the issue is that is not normal. 10 carries against the Vikings. 15 carries against the Bears. 12 carries against the Raiders. Nine carries vs the Steelers. That is not a way to win games.

Collins is #1 in the NFL in yards per attempt, but he is 9th in total yards. Why? Because he is 24th in the NFL in attempts. For a team that can’t catch the ball, that is not okay.

Look at the stat sheet. When they Ravens run the ball, they win. When they try to pass it too much, they lose. It has been that simple.

REALITY: The Ravens take on the Titans in Nashville Sunday.

Perception: The Titans are 24th in the NFL in yards on offense, and 12th in the NFL in yards given up on defense.

Quarterback Marcus Mariota has been struggling with a hamstring injury, but the team claims he is now 100%. He hasn’t played like it the last two weeks, and that is good news for the Ravens.

This used to be one of the best rivalries in football. Now it’s an afterthought. The all-time series is tied 9-9, and the Ravens lead the postseason series 2-1. They last played in 2014 in Baltimore and the Ravens won 21-17.

As I said at the beginning of this column… you can’t predict the NFL. But I will try anyway. Flacco doesn’t play or, if he does, not well. Collins and Allen run well, and Tucker kicks multiple field goals, and the Ravens find a way to win 17-14.

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Joe Polek

About Joe Polek

Joe Polek was born in Baltimore, MD, and was raised in Bel Air, MD. He lived in Maine from 2001-2012, where he met his wife and had two daughters. He now resides in Columbia, SC where he has left TV/Radio and is the South Carolina Marketing Coordinator for Bojangles' Restaurants. Joe is a huge sports fan, but most importantly he lives and breathes Baltimore (and Maryland) sports. He routinely gets back to Baltimore for a Ravens and Orioles game once a year. A couple of his highlights were being at the final game at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium, and also sitting in left field for “2130”, and “2131” (Cal Ripken’s consecutive game streak). Find Joe on Twitter @JoePolek. More from Joe Polek


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