Winter weather, new hires (and old hires), trash talking losers, and more in this week’s 2MD!
Around The League
After a week of much ambiguity, it seems a handful of the General Manager and Head Coaching voids are starting to shake out. Here’s what we know so far:
- Urban Meyer will be the next head coach of the Jags. Honestly? I think it’s a bad hire, and he’ll end up ‘retiring’ again sooner than later, as he tends to do when things get tough or his team struggles (see Ohio State, Florida).
- The Falcons are locked in with former Titans OC Arthur Smith, and former Saints VP/Assistant GM for Pro Personnel, Terry Fontenot.
- Former 49ers DC Robert Saleh is signing on to become the next head coach of the Jests. Jets. Sorry.
- The Lions hired Brad Holmes (Rams director of college scouting) as their new GM.
- There’s more, but honestly, I stopped paying attention because the playoffs are alive and well and that’s drawn 95% of my focus these days!
Before we move on, we can’t forget to mention the sore losers from the Wild Card Weekend, who just don’t know how to be gracious in defeat.
- Steelers rookie WR Chase Claypool went on IG Live, and basically said that the Browns will get crushed next round versus the Chiefs, so it didn’t matter than they won last week (against his Steelers). This just after Claypool’s TikTok buddy, JuJu Smith-Schuster, calls the Browns nameless, grey faces. What a duo in Pittsburgh. Well, for now, until JuJu finds a new team in a few months as a free agent…
- Random Titans player, Will Compton, has a podcast apparently, and in essence, spent a few minutes crying about the Ravens players dancing/jumping/stomping on their logo. His justification for the hypocrisy? The Titans ‘always’ do that, so it’s just a thing they do, not disrespect. But the Ravens? Total disrespect. Compton needs to get off the pod scene (and social media defending it), grab some clubs, and hit the course with the other 52 guys on his team…
About Last Week…
Ravens 20 Titans 13
With Lamar Jackson starting (I hate using team stats for individual accolades) the Ravens finally won a playoff game, and also broke the streak of being unable to come back from a double-digit deficit. Killing both narratives at once should result in a huge sigh of relief from Ravens fans, players, and coaches alike.
Defensively, the Ravens showed us exactly why every strategic move was made in 2020, from trading for Calais Campbell and signing Derek Wolfe, to drafting Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison, to trading for Yannick Ngakoue. Shoring up the front seven is a major reason the Ravens moved on, as they stifled rushing leader Derrick Henry to the tune of 40 total yards at a 2.2 ypc clip, both his lowest stat lines since an early 2019 matchup with the Denver Broncos.
As for the late-game logo theatrics, I’m here for it. The Ravens need a good mix of quiet confidence and swagger, and while the team methodically went about this Wild Card game with patience and focus, seeing Marcus Peters intercept Ryan Tannehill and head to the Titans logo with the rest of the defense was both hilarious, and well-earned revenge.
Maybe next time, Mike Vrabel will take his own advice and ‘go coach a game’ because punting on 4th & 2 on your opponent’s 40, while down a touchdown late in a playoff game?
That’s questionable coaching at best.
This Week: Ravens @ Bills
Saturday @ 8:15 pm
The Ravens continue their path to the pinnacle of the playoffs, and once again, they need to go through a top NFL offense,
Last week, the Ravens took on the NFL’s leading rusher in Derrick Henry, and a Titans team that ranked 4th in Points For (PF) during the 2020 season. This week, the Ravens get the NFL’s leading receiver in Stefon Diggs, and the Buffalo Bills, who rank 2nd in PF in the season (not looking ahead, but the Chiefs are 6th in the same category, while the NFC has the Packers at 1st, Bucs 3rd, and the Saints 5th).
While the Ravens defense was shored up to stop the run, can they stop Josh Allen and the high powered aerial assault that is Brian Daboll’s offense?
On the flip side, can Jackson and the Ravens offense continue to do work against the Bills defense?
For the Ravens to stop the Allen-led offense, their secondary is going to have to play a damn near perfect game. The Bills offensive line is great at giving Allen ample time to survey the field and allow routes to develop, and with that, the use of the deep ball in Buffalo is a deadly tool. The abilities of Diggs, coupled with the speed of John Brown, make for a pair of deep threats that… well… are threatening. Add in Cole Beasley in the middle of the field, and the weapons in Buffalo are no joke. Surely, the Ravens will miss Tavon Young in this game, but we’ll see if they move Marlon Humphrey inside to help alleviate the pain Beasley can cause.
I’ll also be watching Allen run on empty sets, versus Wink’s chess match in the blitz game.
For the Ravens offense, I think the matchup is pretty solid on paper against a Bills defense that ranks 16th in Points Against (PA), 14th in total yards allowed and 17th in first downs allowed. More specifically, the Bills defense allowed the 6th most rushing touchdowns on the season, the 8th highest YPC, and the 8th most rushing 1st downs.
So you have a bottom-10 rushing defense in Buffalo, going head-to-head with a Ravens offense that led the NFL in rushing yards per game (191.9), yards per carry (5.5), carries of 20+ yards (31), and rushing 1st downs (166). They were also 3rd in rushing touchdowns (24), which is just unacceptable.
Need I say more?
Prediction: Lamar Jackson may not have any experience in snow, but this Ravens offense is built for the postseason, and the frigid temperatures that come with a snowy playoff game. The ground & pound offense is going to be the key to a Ravens win come Saturday night, along with the secondary playing the best game of their 2020 season.
That’s it. It’s that simple.
Offensively, I expect a heavy dose of Gus Edwards early to wear down the Bills defense, with more Jackson and J.K. Dobbins carries as the game progresses. The trio will amass 230 rushing yards, along with three rushing touchdowns on the day. For what it’s worth, the Bills have allowed 200+ yards on the ground twice during the 2020 regular season, going 0-2 in those games (Chiefs, Cards).
Jackson will complement his ground game with a modest, yet effective, 175 yards passing and a touchdown pass to Mark Andrews. Despite Andrews being the only receiver to score, Hollywood Brown will again be the most integral part of the pass game, with six receptions for 95 yards, with several clutch receptions to extend drive in the second half.
Defensively, the Ravens won’t be nearly as stout as they were against the Titans, as the Bills passing game is substantially better; however, they will take the good with the bad, as the Bills put up three passing touchdowns, but three interceptions by Allen on the day (Peters twice, and Queen on a tip drill) will be the deciding factor that stunts the high powered aerial assault.
Ultimately, the Ravens will run off a 5+ minute drive to keep the Bills offense sidelined, as the clock hits 0:00 and the final whistle blows.
Ravens 34 Bills 24
Playoff Pick ‘Em
With three other games this weekend, let’s go ahead and quick pick who Ravens fans should be rooting for.
Browns @ Chiefs
The ‘easy’ answer is the Browns. The Ravens are 2-0 against Cleveland this year, while they’re 0-3 against Patrick Mahomes with Lamar Jackson under center. Also, the Ravens would host the Browns in the AFCC, or go on the road to Kansas City. That being said, I want to complete the 2020 Ravens Revenge Tour, and that means going through Kansas City. Besides, folks seem to forget that KC hasn’t won a game by more than one score since November 1st. BRING ME THANOS.
Rams @ Packers
Listen, I’m an admitted closet cheese head. Before we had the Ravens, I was a Packers fan, and I’ve long followed them as my NFC team of choice. I also think Aaron Rodgers is a clear cut MVP (he won’t be unanimous like Lamar was, though). I’d love to see a Ravens-Packers Super Bowl, so GO! PACK! GO!
Bucs @ Saints
Brady & Brees tangle once more in the Senior (Citizen) Bowl. The Saints are 2-0 versus the Bucs this year, and they’ll have my support all the way. No more cheering for Tampa Tommy & the boys. Although, could you imagine the Ravens completing the 2020 Ravens Revenge Tour by taking out Brady?
Cheers to another tall task for the Ravens, and a hopeful trip to the AFC Championship game!