The first Purple Friday of the (regular) season.. the first Two Minute Drill of 2021.. and I’m forced to start things on a somber note, as we must discuss the Bus & Marcus Peters.
Listen, it sucks to lose starters and stars to season-ending injury. Every team faces this at some capacity, but John Harbaugh said it best during his mic’d up session against the Washington Football Team:
“I’ll get over it, but I’m not gonna get over it right now.”
While this was in reference to the loss of JK Dobbins for the season, it still resonates strongly in regard to both Gus Edwards and Peters, and how fans currently feel. It’s painful today, it’ll be painful tomorrow, and hopefully a little less with each passing day as the season draws focus from the fans… but all we can do is move forward, hope for the best on the field, and wish nothing but a speedy and successful recovery for Edwards, Peters, Dobbins, Justice Hill and L.J. Fort.
How about one more Harbs quote to brighten spirits?
“In order to have a great comeback, you need to have a setback.”
There’s your setback… or setbacks, as it stands. The Ravens start the season with a hand tied behind their back and revert back to more of an underdog role that players and fans had long grown accustomed to in Baltimore, but deviated from of late with the recent string of regular season success in the Lamar Jackson Era.
And who knows? Maybe this adversity and underdog mentality adds a new layer of swagger to the team. With everyone in and around Baltimore rallying around this team, I think we’ll find a way to get excited for what the 2021 season will bare for the Ravens!
This Week: Ravens (-4.5) @ Raiders
Monday Night Football @8:15pm
The ravaged Ravens hit the road to wrestle with the Raiders.
I legitimately love alliteration, and I’m not sorry.
What better way for the Baltimore Ravens to make a statement after a litany of critical injuries, then stepping into Allegiant Stadium for their inaugural game and taking down Gruden’s Raiders?
I’ll let fellow RSRer James Ogden explain the X’s and O’s in his well-articulated and detailed Battle Plans, but for me? I have three keys to this game:
- The O-Line needs to jell. Ronnie Stanley is returning from an ACL injury, the Left Guard spot is still a crapshoot (even assuming it’s Ben Powers‘ job Week One), Bradley Bozeman is taking his first regular season Center snaps since his Bama days, and Kevin Zeitler/Alejandro Villanueva are newcomers in Baltimore. If they jell quickly? This offense can thrive.
- A penetrating pass rush. With the additions of Justin Houston, Odafe Oweh and Daelin Hayes, I genuinely believe this group of outside linebackers will prove to consistently bring the pressure and win those 1-on-1 matchups that we haven’t seen in Baltimore for some time. Generating steady pressure on Derek Carr will help balance out an ailing secondary without Marcus Peters.
- Oliver & Watkins contributions. The Ravens finally have that additional and reliable pass-catching Tight End to complement the trio, and Sammy Watkins adds much needed sure hands in the wide receiver group. We know what we have in Mark Andrews and Hollywood Brown, but I believe Watkins and Josh Oliver can help take focus and pressure off the main targets of Lamar, and really keep the Raiders defense guessing.
It’s that simple for a simple-minded guy like me. If the protection holds up.. the pass rush blows up… and the new receivers show up… the Ravens come away victorious and the Raiders can hang a big ol’ L in their rafters after their inaugural game at Allegiant Stadium.
Second-year running back Ty’Son Williams leads the Ravens backfield with 18 carries for 75 yards and a touchdown, followed by 10 carries for Jackson for 70 yards and a touchdown scamper of his own. Let’s also throw in another 50 yards combined between Latavius Murray and Devonta Freeman.
That’s right. I don’t see Le’Veon Bell being called up in this one.
The Ravens total 210 yards on the ground (checks math… give Pat Ricard 5 and Holly 10 on a sweep) with a pair of touchdowns and you wouldn’t even know this offense skipped a beat.
As for the passing game, Lamar won’t need to throw a ton, but he’s successful in doing so when he does. Let’s go with 15 for 22, 180 yards and a touchdown to newly extended Tight End, Mark Andrews.
Defensively, the Ravens pass rush has it’s way with the Raiders O-Line. Justin Houston gets his first sack as a Raven, Odafe Oweh gets his first NFL career sack, and we’ll give a half sack to Tyus Bowser and McPhee because I’m a nice guy like that.
Alas, it’s not all roses for the Ravens, as Darren Waller will have his way with the defense to the tune of 80 yards and a touchdown… but limiting the Raiders rushing attack to just 50 total yards, and keeping Henry Ruggs in check will keep the Raiders off the board for long chunks of the game, as the Ravens come away victorious.
Best of the Rest
While we wait impatiently for Monday Night Football to watch our beloved Ravens, here’s the best of the Sunday slate to satiate your football needs, but trust me: the 4pm slot is substantially better than the 1pm slot… unless you’re dying to watch Jets at Panthers or Jags at Houston *yawns*
Yinz @ Bills (-6.5). Sun 1pm. I want them both to lose, but I guess the Steelers just a bit more… give me a nice low scoring affair so I can mock their offenses. That’ll do.
Brownies @ Chiefs (-6.0) Sun 4:25pm. Again, I want both teams to lose, and naturally the AFC North opponent just a little more, but I’m gonna focus on Orlando Brown Jr. because I need to compare his success to Odafe Oweh (the main pick gained from the trade) all season, despite the lack of rationale comparing two different positions and players.
Packers (-4.0) @ Saints Sun 4:25pm So many story lines here… relocated game due to Hurricane Ida… Aaron Rodgers defending his MVP year while likely his final year in Green Bay… first year in New Orleans without Drew Brees in forever… Michael Thomas sidelined… love it.
Bears @ Rams (-7.5) SNF @ 8:20pm. Will we see Justin Fields packages or just Andy Dalton trying really hard not to be the next Josh McCown or Ryan Fitzpatrick? Will Matt Stafford appreciate having a real team around him when facing the Bears for once in his career? Could be a fun one in LA!
With all of the disheartening injury news in Baltimore, I thought this is the perfect way to end the first 2MD of the season…
Top-5 Ravens Who Need Bubble Wrapped
- John Harbaugh. Listen, he may not be on the field, but the man is the heart and soul of this team, and the glue that holds everything together in the face of adversity. If a play on the sideline carries into the coaches area and Harbs goes down? The soul of the team leaves with him, and we can’t risk it. Put Johnny in the MNF Booger Mobile circa 2019!
- Ronnie Stanley. The only sure thing on this offensive line right now. Protect the guru, to protect Lamar, to protect a full blown collapse. It’s like a bodyguard for a bodyguard.
- Marlon Humphrey. All pro cornerback, top three in the NFL, and the Ravens best option to move into the slot if called upon in pinch. The man runs the secondary. Wrap him up and his cat, Snowball, too (we can’t even risk emotional distress here).
- Justin Tucker. The best kicker in the NFL? And in due time, the best kicker in the history of the league? If you won’t bubble wrap him in full, at least wrap the leg.
- Lamar Jackson. The entire offense runs on LJ. Bubble wrapped or not, I’m throwing myself in front of a moving vehicle to protect this man at any costs.