Welcome back to the Two-Minute Drill, Flockers!
For those of you who are new to the 2-MD, consider this the Amazon Prime of Ravens blogs: delivered right to your doorstep, typically on time, might not be exactly what you were expecting, but you’ll forget to exchange or return it and you’re stuck with it, while you keep coming back for more.
Around the League
Typically, we use this time to discuss any news and notes around the league. While there’s not a ton of ‘this week’ news, let’s just roll through the overall offseason’s worthy notes.
- Patrick Mahomes is both rich, and very good at football.
- Deshaun Watson is also rich, but as we saw last night, not as good as Mahomes at football.
- Odell Beckham Jr. enjoys a steaming pile so much, that his decision to stay in Cleveland makes sense.
- The Jags are hoping if they field a DIII-caliber team, that they’ll be able to join the ranks of college conferences that have opted out of their season.
- Kyler Murray. Still short.
- Earl Thomas. Still without a team.
- Lamar Jackson. Still MVP.
Cleveland @ Baltimore (-7.5)
Sunday 9/13 @ 1pm (CBS)
The Ravens open the season with largely the same roster they had in 2019 that took them to a 14-2 record and a second consecutive AFC North title. There’s been a few key loses (Marshal Yanda, Hayden Hurst, maybe you call Earl a loss but I don’t) but the additions of a fantastic rookie class and veterans Calais Campbell, Derek Wolfe and D.J. Fluker will prove to make this team stronger than ever.
Their opponent, the offseason hype train Browns, were relatively quiet this offseason (unlike their obnoxious fanbase) under new Head Coach Kevin Stefanski. Naturally, the fact that they were quiet is being explained as a way in which Stefanski is changing the culture, and in turn why they’re going to succeed.
There’s no denying the talent in Cleveland, but talent doesn’t always make a winner. Ask the 2019 paper champs in… well, Cleveland. Will first time head coach Stefanski find the magic key to revert Baker Mayfield to his 2018 self? What about OBJ? Can he properly use Austin Hooper when Stefanski showed during his time in Minnesota that tight ends didn’t get much love? Will David Njoku demand another trade? What about the defense? Will they survive their early season injuries? Can Denzel Ward stay off the trainer’s table? Will Alex Mack try to beat someone with their own cleats this year?
Potential is there for the Browns, but there’s still plenty to be determined…
Prediction: Baltimore uses that post-season flustering failure as motivation, and poor Cleveland is in their sights on Sunday. An ailing Browns secondary and inside linebacker group falls victim to a surprising aerial assault by Jackson, much like the Miami opener in 2019. Lamar will find the end zone thrice, with Mark Andrews, rookie J.K. Dobbins, and Patrick Ricard being the recipients of those scores. Tack on a Mark Ingram rushing touchdown and Baltimore will throw up a 34 spot on the Browns defense. I do worry about the Browns defensive line against Baltimore’s newly formed interior offensive line (it remains to be seen how it’ll shake out, with about 20 potential configurations), but I think the Ravens will show a steady mix of ground & pound, clock-crushing drives and new up-tempo drives to wear down defenders and limit substitutions.
Give J.K. Dobbins 100 total yards of offense and a touchdown, while Andrews will be the leading receiver with 85 yards and a score of his own. Lamar will hit seven different pass-catchers in this game en route to 280 yards passing, three touchdowns and no turnovers.
On defense, Baltimore will welcome their newfound interior pass rush against a Browns offensive line that looks to be starting either a pair of rookies, or a rookie and a gimpy JC Tretter at Center. In either case, I expect a lot of Campbell and Brandon Williams eating bodies and giving Matt Judon, Jaylon Ferguson and the rest of the outside linebackers some cleaner paths to Mayfield. The secondary will be their usual lockdown selves, and Mayfield’s damage will come mostly through the likes of Hooper and Kareem Hunt.
The Ravens defense records four sacks on the day, forces a fumble by Mayfield, and picks off a tip drill pass (Juice Man!).
Some junk time points make it appear closer than it ever was, but the Ravens move on and start preparing for the Texans in Week 2.
BAL 34 CLE 24
Best of the Rest
With a full slate of NFL games (it feels so good to say that), here’s the best of the rest around the NFL this weekend.
Seahawks @ Falcons, Sun 9/13 @ 1 pm
Former Ravens 1st Rounder, Hayden Hurst, makes his Falcons debut.
Fins @ Pats, Sun 9/13 @ 1 pm
The Hoodie without Brady. While we’ve seen that here & there before (most notably during the 2008 season with Matt Cassel at the helm) it’s been rare. Other than 2008, Brady missed just FIVE games between 2001 and 2019, and four of those were in 2016.
Bucs @ Saints, Sun 9/13 @ 4:25 pm
Brady without the overlords in New England for the first time in his career. Oh, and now he has weapons.
Cowboys @ Rams, Sun 9/13 @ 8:20pm
Point total to exceed 90? Get ready for an assault on fantasy rosters everywhere…
Steelers @ Giants. Mon 9/14 @ 7:15 pm
Which Ben do we see? OG Ben slinging it around? Or cheeseburglar Ben with a limp noodle arm?
Per usual on the 2-MD, we close with a power ranking of… something. Anything. Usually NFL related. Or close enough at least.
Today’s rankings come from a recent realization I had during my litany of fantasy drafts. We all know Brady is in Tampa with Gronk. We know Manny Sanders jumped to N’awlins and Clowney is a Titan. But then there’s the other guys…
Top-10 ‘Oh Sh*t, I Forgot He Was On That Team Now!’
- WR/RB Cordarrelle Patterson, Chicago Bears
- WR Ted Ginn Jr., also, Chicago Bears
- LB Kyle Van Noy, Miami Dolphins
- CB Kendall Fuller, WFT
- TE Marcedes Lewis, Green Bay Packers
- EDGE Jachai Polite, Los Angeles Rams
- TE Jesse James, Detroit Lions
- CB Xavier Rhodes, Indianapolis Colts
- QB Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints
- LB Reggie Ragland, Detroit Lions