With the Ravens returning from a bye, so too does the Two-Minute Drill!
This week, the Ravens prepare for the vaunting New England Patriots, but first let’s take a look around the league and what’s transpired over the past week.
— Massholes release Gordon. In a surprisingly unsurprising move, the Patriots put Josh Gordon on IR as a preemptive move to cutting him on Thursday. He’ll hit the waiver wire today, and as much as I would be on board with putting in a claim? The odds that Gordon falls this far are slim to none. Some middling team will beat us out (my best three guesses are Chicago, Buffalo, Oakland).
— Uninspiring Trade Deadline. The Ravens weren’t alone in not making a move at this week’s tradeline, as the league was quiet as a whole. A Kenyan Drake trade to the Cards and an Aqib Talib cap dump to the Fins was about it on the day. Yawn.
— Flacco to the IR. Put me in the group that feels for Joe Flacco. Yes, I know he’s a fringe starter at best these days but over the course of six months he got shipped out from the only team he’s played for, stuck with an inept offense in Denver, lost his best weapon in a trade, questioned the lack of aggression on offense, then put on the IR. That’s a lot to take.
— End of Cam in Carolina? Cam Newton has been on the sidelines for damn near a month now, and reports today have Cam headed to a foot specialist in Green Bay. If the Panthers eventually IR Cam, will he be back in Carolina in 2020? Downward spiraling performance and cap ramifications don’t look favorable for him…
Last Week: Buh-Bye
The Ravens had a great week off last week. Why was it so great? For starters, the rest after a hard fought game in Seattle was needed for many players, and for players like Peanut Onwausor, Hollywood Brown, and Jimmy Smith, a return to action is now on the horizon. The Ravens also got to sit back and watch the Ohio half of the AFC North (Browns, Bengals) each drop another game, and while the Steelers beat a substantially worse Fins team than the one the Ravens faced (they had Minkah Fitzpatric and Xavien Howard vs BAL, and ran out a High School JV squad vs PIT), they did lose James Conner to an injury late in the game in relative junk time.
It also doesn’t hurt having two weeks to prepare for the Patriots…
This Week: Pats (-3.5) @ Ravens
Sunday Night Football- 8:20pm- NBC
I know many fans are looking at this huge matchup Sunday as an automatic L. After all, the Patriots have this otherworldly defense and Brady on the other side of the ball, so how is it even feasible for the Ravens to come away with the win, and send the Pats packing from M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday night?
Well for starters, you could check out our very own Matt Wise’s Battleplans for Sunday’s tilt with the Patriots.
But also let me throw a few notes of my own in here, as I think the Ravens have a very legitimate shot at moving to 6-2 and showing the rest of the NFL that they’re a force to be reckoned with, and not just ‘it’s the Pats, the Chiefs, then everyone else in the AFC.’
New England’s defense is 21st in yards per carry allowed at 4.6 yards, while Baltimore’s offense is 2nd in yards per carry at 5.6 yards. Flip the field and New England’s offense is 31st in yards per carry at 3.1, while Baltimore’s defense is 17th in 4.3 yards per carry allowed.
I’m going to make an adjustment to that 4.3 because I’m a fan that knows the difference Brandon Williams makes for this defense and when he was out against Cleveland, as they killed Baltimore on the ground. An adjusted metric to games played with Williams drops that 4.3 ypc down to a cool 3.9 ypc which would have the Ravens tied for 8th lowest in the NFL.
There’s a match made in heaven.
Last week the Browns (5.7 yards per carry – 1st in the NFL) ran for 159 yards on 22 carries, good for a 7.2 ypc clip; but the previous week the Jets only carried for 4.1 ypc, 3.3 ypc for the Giants the week before, then back up to 7.3 ypc against the Skins the week before that.
Easy enough to explain. For starters, teams get behind quickly to the Pats and proceed to abandon the run, which allows the Patriots to hide a glaring weakness (it also allows them to sit back on the pass and rack up picks). The other noteworthy item here is that the Patriots are prone to allowing chunk plays in the run game that inflate their ypc stat line.
To me, this means that Baltimore needs to focus on two things come Sunday: ground & pound, and minimizing mistakes. If they can keep breaking off runs of 4-5 yard chunks, while focusing on ball security and smart decision making in the face of the “Zero Blitz” (we’ll hear it far too much Sunday night), eventually they’ll break one or two big runs, and they can wear down the Patriots defense – something no team has been able to do yet.
Prediction: Baltimore’s offense goes for a 2:1 run:pass ratio, as we see our three-headed monster of Ingram-Gus-Hill finally take form. The trio combines for 180 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Lamar Jackson only throws 20 times in this game, but completes 14 of them for 220 yards and a score of his own.
The Patriots offense has been the beneficiary of opponent turnovers leading to short field scores, and Sunday will be no different. A Jackson interception (he’s not going to be perfect, folks) will give the Pats the ball inside the Ravens 30 and Brady will find Julian Edelman for six as one of the Patriots’ three touchdowns on the night, with Sony Michel the recipient of the other two.
Ultimately, the game comes down to the biggest advantage Baltimore has – kickers.
Justin Tucker‘s 4th-quarter field goal puts the Ravens up three, and despite getting within shot of 50-yarder, the Patriots newest leg, Nick Folk, shows why he’s been out of work for so long, as he misses wide right.
Ravens move to 6-2.
Ravens 24 Patriots 21
Rest Of The Slate
With the Ravens hanging out til Sunday Night to take the field, Baltimore fans get a 2nd consecutive week of Sunday day games to pick your poison. Here’s the best of the rest.
Texans @ Jags. Sun 9:30am. A little London love to start your NFL Sunday slate bright and early. Maybe enjoy a spot of tea? Personally, I’m an English Breakfast tea in the am/Earl Grey in the pm kinda guy…
Vikings @ Chiefs. Sun 1pm. The Vikes have been hot of late, but the Chiefs are the Chiefs. I think we’re looking at two playoff teams right here on a week that’s otherwise devoid of great matchups (sans Ravens/Pats). This is as good as it gets.
Colts @ Yinz. Sun 1pm. The Steelers have won two straight and honestly, I need them to just lose and come back down to earth.
Browns @ Broncos. Sun 4:25pm. I’m so torn. I want the Broncos to lose because I hate John Elway and feel bad for Flacco (calls team out, ends up on IR), but also I want to see the Browns continue to lose (but not too much – don’t want them landing a top-10 pick!)
With the Patriots coming to town Sunday, I’m reminded of a conversation I have almost yearly about ‘Rivals’ and where the Patriots rank among the Ravens biggest rivals…. so let’s rank ’em!
Ravens’ Top-5 Rivals
I know this seems ridiculous, but before the AFC North was a thing, the Ravens were part of the AFC Central with the Titans, Jaguars, Steelers, and Bengals. The Titans were a one-time rival, with some pivotal playoff games part of the Ravens history (notably a 24-10 playoff win in Tennessee that led to the Ravens first Super Bowl). The Ravens are 10-10 vs the Titans, and 5-5 in their last 10 including a 1-1 playoff win split (Titans won in 2004, Ravens won in 2009).
4. Round 2 of the NFL Draft
I see one hit, one kinda hit, and the rest is vomit-inducing.
Some folks think the Browns are bigger rivals, but they aren’t just more annoying fans. The Ravens own the Browns historically (30-11 head to head) but the Bengals? It’s a 24-23 record for the Ravens. Add in the recent Week 17 fiascos for the Ravens against Cincy, and they actually present a bigger thorn than Paul Brown’s forgotten children in Cleveland.
I almost put them at number one, but the only thing keeping me from moving Brady and Belichick to our biggest rival is honestly that they’ve owned the Ravens in the regular season. Our 2-2 post season record against those Massholes is admirable though, and here’s’ to hoping it’s a 3-2 post season head-to-head record in a few short months!
We all hate them. We hate their dramatic quarterback constantly threatening retirement. We hate their fans whose TV’s are stuck on the history channel as they talk about rings (but when you say ‘who won a Super Bowl more recently’ they say ‘get out of the past,’ right?). We hate their coach that trips our players and acts like he didn’t know. We hate their towels. They are our biggest rivals 100%.