Before I jump into the Week 12 2MD, I just want to talk about this phantom illness spreading through the Ravens locker room, and how it’s quietly flying under the radar. There’s speculation that what the team is fighting is norovirus… which, of course, we cannot confirm. But what we can confirm is two things:
- It’s been hanging around and spreading for 3+ weeks now
- We’ve seen 8 players miss practices- or a game in Lamar’s case- during this stretch
Whatever this illness is (and it’s worth noting that norovirus fits in terms of the 24-48hr symptoms for most folks), it’s also clear that this virus isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. We can only hope for the Ravens sake that any other players who get it don’t get the prolonger symptoms like Lamar Jackson did.
Health matters for this Ravens team hanging onto first place in the AFC as they get into the roughest part of their schedule.
Speaking of rough, let’s talk about last week versus the Browns, shall we?
About Last Week…
Ravens 16, Browns 10
Take the player names away for just a second- if you looked at just the raw stats in this game for the Cleveland Browns offense, you’d be hard pressed to differentiate between the 2021 Browns and their paper bag days. The Ravens defense held Cleveland to their lowest rushing total since Week 11 of 2018, while more specifically holding Nick Chubb to his 2nd lowest yards per carry in his career to date (the Ravens own 4 of Chubb’s 5 lowest YPC games, by the way). Baker Mayfield looked more like [name a classic garbage Browns quarterback like Jonny Manziel or Brandon Weeden] and the Ravens defense really showed that they’re starting to make strides and return to form.
Meanwhile, the Ravens offense… well, it looked much like the Browns offense on Sunday, just with a slightly worse Offensive Line, and much better mobility by the quarterback. This offense really needs to figure it out and revert to form, or they’ll be in major trouble sooner or later…
Throw in a couple inexplicable challenges upheld (Harrison pick and Njoku touchdown), along with some bad bounces (Lamar’s first and final interception) and this was a pretty ugly, low scoring game.
Is what it is… take the win… on to Yinz!
Ravens (-4.5) @ Steelers, 4:25pm
If you thought last week’s game against the Browns was a sad one? I wouldn’t get too much more excited for this game.
Both teams have struggling offenses right now, and even with both teams looking to be thinned out defensively (COVID for the Steelers, illness for the Ravens) I still don’t think it’ll shift the total much in this game.
Still… this is the litmus game for this Ravens offense. Facing a Steelers defense that’s been shelled for 41 points in each of the past two games (Bolts & Bengals), who now loses TJ Watt to COVID and possibly Joe Haden (foot), should scream ‘success’ for Lamar & Co. If you were to look a little deeper, you’d see that they gave up 229 rushing yards against the Lions, 159 rushing against the Bolts, and 198 against the Bengals.
This Steelers defense is basically begging the Ravens to right the ship… it’s just a matter of whether or not they’re capable of doing so.
The Ravens… kinda fix the offense. Lamar will throw for 250 yards and a touchdown to Rashod Bateman (finally!) while tacking on 120 rushing yards and another score. The Ravens add one more touchdown via Latavius Murray on a goal line push, and on the day, Baltimore puts up 30 points while running early and often and truly taking control of the game clock.
Like I said, it’s a step in the right direction but not firing on all cylinders quite yet.
Defensively, I think the Ravens defense will continue to feast. It’s worth nothing that this is because I assume the ‘illness’ for Marlon Humphrey and Tavon Young is going to be a non-factor, with both playing on Sunday. Ultimately, this will be a blitz heavy affair for Wink Martindale, and the Ravens will plant Big Ben in the dirt F-I-V-E times on Sunday.
Yes, I genuinely believe that.
The coverage will be sticky, the pressure will get home, and a pair of Odafe Oweh sacks will lead the charge, one of which is of the strip/sack/recover variety. Add in a Brandon Stephens interception on a tip drill, and the Ravens put this game away in the second half with ease.
Best of the Rest
I’m going to be honest with you… here’s the only ‘good’ matchup this Sunday, outside of the Ravens-Steelers tilt:
Chargers @ Bengals (-3.0) 1pm.
That’s literally it. There are 10 other games on Sunday, and of those games:
- (6) are .500+ teams versus sub-.500 teams in a lopsided matchup
- (2) are sub-.500 teams going head-to-head
- (1) is Broncos (6-5) @ Chiefs (7-4) and records be damned, the Broncos are not a good team
At least we’ve got the Monday Night Football tilt with the Patriots in Buffalo taking on the Bills, so I guess Bolts/Bengals… then Ravens/Steelers… with Bills/Bill (Belichick) is enough to get by.
That’s all for this week’s 2MD! Enjoy Steelers Week!