Welcome to Week 3 of 2MD!
Typically I start these blogs with a quick ‘around the league,’ but other than a Tyrod Taylor team-induced lung puncture, there’s not a ton to talk about. Instead, I’ll drop my two cents on a team in each division based on the massive two-week sample size we have to date.
NFC North: The Packers should absolutely run away with this division, not just because they look fantastic, but also because the Vikings and Lions are incompetent, and the Bears will eventually fizzle out.
NFC East: We’re changing the name to Allas Cowboys because there’s clearly no D.
NFC South: Can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Falcons still have plenty of reason to believe they can take this division. They’ve come up short twice, but they’re the best equipped for shootouts with Tom Drew Brees looking less than stellar thus far.
NFC West: The 49ers could very well end up finishing dead last in the division, thanks to snake bites and everybody else being flat out better.
AFC North: The Ravens are still kings, but the Steelers are easily the next best team and should find the postseason again.
AFC East: Bills fans anointing Josh Allen (again) is… interesting. He beat up on a pair of atrocious teams (Jets, Fins) but let’s see how he holds up versus actual NFL-caliber opponents.
AFC South: Like the Falcons, the 0-2 Texans could very well still find their way to winning the south. The Colts and Jags are bad, and the Titans are barely eking out wins against the Jags & Broncos.
AFC West: I’ve been saying this for some time now, but the Raiders are going to snag a wildcard spot. Outside of KC, they’re easily the 2nd best team in the AFCW, and could be the recipient of the newly added 7th seed in the postseason.
Last Week: Ravens 33 Texans 16
Earlier in the week, I called this game uneventful, and one of the more uninspiring wins I’ve seen from this iteration of the Ravens. Yes, they won easily, but there were glaring concerns for me, primarily on offense. The team going 4-for-15 on 3rd down was alarming, the lack of ground game in the first half didn’t sit well, the offensive line looked shaky in stretches, and three field goals inside the 25 feels unacceptable for this offense. Defensively, I still crave a pass rusher who can win those 1-on-1 battles consistently, which we haven’t seen much of yet.
My emphasis on games this season is simple: if the Ravens play like they did today, would it be enough for a win in January?
The way they played Sunday didn’t give me that level of confidence, which left me feeling rather ‘meh’ on the victory in Houston.
Alas, flat games happen. They’re not all going to be exciting, high-scoring, splashy-play type affairs (see the vast majority of the Joe Flacco era), and a win is truly just a win. As for the concerns on the field, it’s better to see these things hit early on, giving the team time to fix them. Lest we forget just last year when the Ravens saw issues at inside linebacker (signed L.J. Fort), defensive line (signed Justin Ellis and Domata Peko) and a dire need at cornerback (traded for Marcus Peters), then made in-season adjustments accordingly.
The Ravens are a damn smart football team. If they have concerns, we’ll see the adjustments made. In the meantime, as fans we must have confidence to trust in the team’s internal adjustments.
Until then, keep on stacking W’s!
Chiefs @ Ravens on MNF
Let’s be real here. The proverbial ‘Chiefs monkey on the Ravens back’ (0-2 in the regular season against KC since Lamar Jackson took over) is really just a fan issue, isn’t it? This team isn’t going into Monday night’s matchup thinking “man, if we don’t win this one, we’ll never beat the Chiefs!”
The Ravens are studying up, game planning for KC, and looking to execute for a victory en route to a 3-0 start on the season.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs are coming off a… surprising… overtime win. If that’s truly a thing. The LA Bolts started rookie QB Justin Herbert, put up a decent 20 spot, and through a solid defensive effort from the front seven, kept the high-powered Chiefs offense to 20 points in regulation. It took a 58-yard field goal by KC to take home the win after the Chargers opened OT with a very conservatively-called three & out.
Can the Ravens find a similar path to holding the Chiefs offense down? Will the Chiefs come in highly motivated after that near loss? Will the Ravens offense find more chunk plays once again?
Prediction: Get ready for fireworks. The Raven and Chiefs will exchange blows, and while that used to be concerning for Ravens fans, as the team was never built to withstand a shootout? That’s no longer the case. The Ravens offense can match the Chiefs in the aerial assault.
The biggest difference? The depth of Baltimore’s backfield.
One thing I’ve noticed with the Chiefs is their inability to stop running backs thus far. Through two games, the Chiefs have allowed a 110 total yards and a touchdown to Texans RB David Johnson, and 130 total yards to Austin Ekeler. With that in mind, could this be the breakout J.K. Dobbins game? I think Mark Ingram still gets the bulk of the carries, but the rookie running back Dobbins will finish the day with the highest total among Baltimore’s backfield, with 105 total yards and a score.
While the ground game will be integral for Baltimore, the passing game should fare well as a complement. Mark Andrews will rebound with a solid 5/60/1 line, and Hollywood Brown will have a few big catches downfield, surpassing the 100-yard mark for the second time in three games. Jackson will do his damage on the ground (seven carries, 65 yards, rushing touchdown) but will find the end zone twice via passes to Andrews & Miles Boykin as well.
On the flip side, to expect Patrick Mahomes to be held down would be foolish. Look back to last week’s OT win, and Mahomes accounted for 356/414 yards of total offense, and the only two touchdowns. Mahomes will get his in this game. Let’s call it 300 yards and a pair of touchdowns… sealed with a Jimmy Smith interception.
Ravens walk away from this one 3-0 and moving their focus to the WFT (Washington Football Team).
BAL 34 KC 30
Best of the Rest
With the Ravens resting up during the Sunday slate, here’s the top games to tune into this weekend.
Rams (2-0) @ Bills (2-0). Sun 9/27 @ 1 pm
I’m a Rams believer and a Bills naysayer. Buffalo has beat the awful Jets and Fins… woohoo… at least the Rams beat the Cowboys.
Raiders (2-0) @ Pats (1-1). Sun 9/27 @ 1 pm
Never mind the players. Let’s just talk about Gruden versus Bill, and all of the Tuck Rule references we’ll get.
Cowboys (1-1) @ Seahawks (2-0). Sun 9/27 @ 4:25 pm
Literally the only good 4pm game out there, so yanno. Watch it. Nobody wants to see the Cards slaughter the Lions, or Bucs wipe the floor with the Broncos backups, or even a yawn-fest between the Chargers and Panthers.
Packers (2-0) @ Saints (1-1). SNF @ 8:20 pm
Never say no to a Rodgers-Brees battle.
There’s been uniform debates on the Twitter this week since the Ravens announced the black jerseys for Monday night’s tangle with the Chiefs. As such, we’ll go ahead and rank uniforms today so I can tell everybody why the blackout isn’t the best pairing.
A forewarning: I’m not a nostalgia guy.
10. Anything with mustard pants
Za’Darius Smith and a Kansas City Chief lock up.” width=”804″ height=”527″ />
It’s a farce. Never again.
9. White jersey/white pants
Blah blah blah clean look. It’s tired. Maybe get a purple helmet to spice it up.
8. Purple jersey/white pants
A classic look, just too frequently used to get that warm & fuzzy feeling.
7. White jersey/black pants
Some fans have SB nostalgia with this combo. I just think it lacks purple to be honest.
6. Purple jersey/black pants
Probably the best of the classic Ravens looks.
5. White jersey/purple pants
I’m a sucker for the purple pants, what can I say?
4. Black jersey/black pants
The blackout is cool. Don’t get me wrong. But it’s become commonplace. When it was new, it had a much better vibe.
3. Black jersey/white pants
Again, big fan of the black jersey, but white pants offset nicely. Still think a purple stripe on the pants versus a black one would be ideal.
2. Purple jersey/purple pants
Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens
COLOR RUSH! All purple, gold numbers, and true perfection.
1. Black jersey/purple pants
Nobody will change my mind here. We saw it once, in Week 17 of the 2018 season, versus the Browns, and it’s the best combo out there.