The Ravens are preparing for a Saturday night brawl in Buffalo against the Bills that will be aired by NBC and the iconic broadcast team of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth at 8:15PM. The game’s referee will be 21-year vet Carl Cheffers. The forecast for the game calls for temps in the upper 20’s with wind chills in the low teens. Average wind speeds are expected to be 15 mph with gusts up to 24 mph. The Ravens will visit Buffalo as 2 point underdogs, however the predicted score by Sports Betting Dime gives the win to Baltimore by 2 points covering the spread.
The Bills received some distressing news earlier in the week when they learned that tailback Zack Moss will be unavailable for the balance of the season with an ankle injury. The league’s 20th-ranked rushing offense will take a hit with the loss of Moss who posted 481 yards this season (4.3 YPC). The Bills have added Devonta Freeman to their practice squad as a measure of insurance.
The Buffalo defense gave up 5.4 YPC to the Colts (30 carries, 163 yards) during the Wild Card Round and yielded a total of 472 yards to the Philip Rivers-led offense. Rivers was not sacked. The Bills defense ranked 14th overall in 2020 and 17th v. the run. This all sets up well for the Ravens, particularly if the elements affect the passing game.
Offensively the Bills are a bit one-dimensional and lean heavily on their aerial attack. The Ravens defense is as healthy as it has been all season and they’ve benefitted from the returns of Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams and Jimmy Smith. Expect Wink Martindale to try and contain Josh Allen in the pocket and confuse the young QB with varied looks. Allen can do damage with his legs as well and if anyone not named Patrick Mahomes can deliver passes that cut through the wind, it’s the former Wyoming Cowboy.
In 9 games with the Ravens, Yannick Ngakoue had registered just 3 sacks. And while he’s pressured quarterbacks and helped to move them out of their comfort zone, it’s safe to say that Martindale expected more production from the Maryland alum. What happens between now and the end of the season for the Ravens will greatly influence whether or not Yannick returns to Baltimore. At this point, Matt Judon looks like a better fit for the Ravens given his versatility and superior ability to set the edge when compared to Ngakoue.
Gus Edwards just seems to carry a “can’t fail” attitude into short yardage situations. He’s also an outstanding grinder, a player who can get the tough yards, particularly when the Ravens are trying to grind out the clock, as evidenced by his performance in Nashville during the Wild Card Game. Many fans are concerned that Gus could be leaving the Nest in 2021 given his performance this season. But the Ravens do have some influence on his future.
Edwards will be a restricted free agent in 2021 and it is highly likely that the Ravens will extend the second-round tender to the former Rutgers tailback. In doing so the Ravens will retain the ability to match any offer made to Gus and if the offer is too rich for GM Eric DeCosta’s blood, then the Ravens would receive a 2nd-round pick from the signing team as a consolation prize.
The Inside Skinny
Word is that the Ravens are working on an extension for Derek Wolfe. Wolfe has played extremely well this season, particularly as of late, and he’s exactly the kind of player that the Ravens’ culture embraces…We’re hearing that Ravens linebackers coach Mike MacDonald is heading to Michigan to join Jim Harbaugh’s staff as defensive coordinator. MacDonald is an up and coming coach and could be a consideration if Wink Martindale departs for a head coaching opportunity. But reading between the lines, MacDonald’s departure might signal that Wink’s job won’t be available anytime soon.
Last night it was being reported that Maurkice Pouncey is planning to retire from the NFL. Pouncey has made it clear in the past that when Ben Roethlisberger retires, he would follow suit. Might this be an indication that the two are going out together?
Ben Roethlisberger, Maurkice Pouncey and JuJu Smith-Schuster in tears after a tough night ends in a loss. A season that started with an 11-0 record ends with a loss in the Wild Card round.
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) January 11, 2021
Roethlisberger carries a whopping $41.2M cap figure in 2021 and clearly he isn’t playing anywhere near the level of that number. The Steelers could restructure Ben’s deal but that essentially kicks the can down the road. It has been reported that the Steelers have to decide by March 3 on a roster bonus for Roethlisberger and should they pass, essentially terminating the contract, the Steelers could save $19M. So, in a nutshell, barring a restructure, the Steelers will carry a $41.2M figure WITH Ben, or a $22.5M cap figure if he retires or if the team decides to cut ties with the future Hall of Famer.
Pouncey has one year left on his deal that carries a $14.5M cap number. If he retires as speculated, the Steelers will save $8M of that number.
To be clear, I did not report that @MaurkicePouncey is officially retiring. I did report that it certainly appeared that he is retiring. He’ll make that official announcement on his own. That was part of my 10 Thoughts from yesterday’s game.
— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) January 11, 2021
If you missed our Facebook broadcast of the Ravens Rap last night, Mike Bradley and I review the Ravens win over the Titans and discuss among other things:
• AJ Brown TD catch ~ interference?
• The importance of a big third down throw from Lamar to Andrews
• A well-designed pick play to free Andrews
• Lamar’s TD run
• Lamar’s clinching run enabled by a great block from Willie Snead
• Marcus Peters’ INT and subsequent celebration
• A saving tackle by Derek Wolfe
• An interesting conversation between Wolfe and Calais Campbell
• Patrick Queen with a clutch play
You can watch the YouTube video below.
Enjoy your day everyone!