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Support the Ravens Being Aggressive…Or Don’t

Ravens roster
Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens
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I’m starting this week’s 2MD with a brief discussion on a major point of contention in Baltimore over the past few weeks.

A Christmas Story is actually extremely overrated.

That’s not the discussion, just had to get that out there. I actually want to discuss the coaching decisions over the last few weeks, notably the controversial calls in the name of analytics.

Simply put, you can’t have it both ways.

John Harbaugh is aggressive, and insists the team plays the analytical odds. Sometimes they work… others they don’t. But that’s to be expected! After all, no particular decision is assured 100% effectiveness, or guarantees a victory. Hell, even last week against the Packers, had Harbs insisted they just kick the extra point to tie it up, they’d be giving the ’20 MVP in Aaron Rodgers 45 seconds, a timeout, and the ball to get into field goal range. Now you can certainly critique the play calls – like rolling right and isolating a single receiver for a two-point conversion – but I don’t know how you can criticize the decision to go for two because of that.Listen, none of us expected the Ravens to win. Hell, most of us didn’t even expect them to be within a score to end this game, so the fact that they were able to get within a two-point conversion of a win was actually a remarkable feat for an injury-decimated Ravens squad taking on the NFC Elite in Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

One last note here: 2021 is largely a lost season for Baltimore due to the inexplicable and insurmountable slew of injuries. With that in mind, isn’t this the best time to take these type of chances and see what will and won’t work moving forward? Or is one extra win now (or a chance to play for OT and possibly still lose) worth playing it safe? Do you really think winning versus the Steelers or Packers changes the trajectory of this team in the postseason so much that it makes a team that struggles to find enough corners and offensive tackles to fill a roster into a true contender?

So I beg of you all… either support analytics, or don’t. Support the aggressive nature of your coach in both wins and losses, or favor the safe route in all situations and end results.

About Last Week…

Green Bay 31 Baltimore 30

 

Listen, none of us expected the Ravens to win. Hell, most of us didn’t even expect them to be within a score to end this game, so the fact that they were able to get within a two-point conversion of a win was actually a remarkable feat for an injury-decimated Ravens squad taking on the NFC Elite in Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

The only other note I’ll make on this game was that I’m exhausted listening to the media talk about the Ravens’ double and triple covering Davante Adams

Let me ask you: can you name the three Ravens cornerbacks on the field outside of Anthony Averett? Or did you forget their names as quickly as you learned them?

Sure it was ‘respect’ for Adams, but also when a trio of Amazon delivery drivers showed up to The Castle to deliver Christmas gifts, only to have Harbs hands them jerseys and a playbook, what do you expect the team to do? Go one-on-one with an All Pro?

Sheesh…

This Week

Ravens @ Bengals (-2.5)

Round two versus Cincy comes down to one factor, and one factor only:

Health.

As of this writing, the Ravens have fifteen players on the COVID-19 reserve list, while also missing a laundry list of starters to injury. Meanwhile, the Bengals are on the total opposite end of the spectrum, as they have no COVID-19 losses to speak of, and are relatively healthy.

In short, I don’t expect this game to end well for the Ravens if they’re going to trot out a bunch of benchwarmers once again. You can get away with it once or twice, but there’s tape out there now, and that’ll be enough for the Bengals to pick the Ravens apart just like they did in Baltimore.

The only way I see this game ending in Baltimore’s favor is similar to my call for a ‘perfect game’ last week, but even that would require some added help to return to the lineup. Getting Tavon Young back from concussion protocol would be massive, as would getting back Jimmy SmithJustin MadubuikeChuck ClarkJustin HoustonChris Board… hell, I’d love to get David Sharpe, Geno Stone, Chris Westry and Sammy Watkins back too!

The reality is that the Ravens cannot bank on any of these players returning to the lineup for Sunday, nor can we be assured that the list won’t continue to grow, and the already decimated Ravens are likely in for a brutal Sunday that’ll have fans more ‘early movie Grinch’ than ‘late movie Grinch.’

Prediction:

I’ll make it short this week: the decimated defense gets… well… decimated to the tune of four touchdowns and a few chip shot field goals. Joe Burrow has a clean pocket all day and goes off for 350 yards and three touchdowns with a pair to Ja’Marr Chase, while Joe Mixon gets a late rushing touchdown on a 25+ yard scamper.

Offensively, the Ravens will keep pace through halftime, but can’t keep Tyler Huntley (that’s my assumption) clean in the second half, as he takes four sacks and loses a fumble. The stat sheet will look decent for Huntley-  270 yards, two passing touchdowns and a rushing score – but it won’t be nearly enough to overcome the Ravens sieve of a defense thanks to COVID and injuries.

Bengals 34 Ravens 24

Best of the Rest

We’re currently slated for four  days of NFL football this week, but I won’t be shocked if like last week, it doesn’t end up at five days, if one of the teams with 15+ COVID-19 cases breaches that 20 case threshold that gets the NFL looking into moving a game or two. Alas, here’s the best for this holiday weekend to tune in before, during, and after the festivities!

49ers (-3.0) @ Titans TNF

I’m gonna predict that Deebo Samuel outscores the entire Titans offense by himself in this game… selfishly for fantasy playoff purposes.

Browns @ Packers (-7.5). Christmas Day @ 4:30pm

I LOVE CHRISTMAS FOOTBALL! And I love it even more if Rodgers can obliterate the Browns.

Colts @ Cards (-1.0). Christmas Day @ 8:15pm

Another great matchup to enjoy as you spend your evening hours on Christmas finding batteries and opening kids toys, while questioning why packaging is so much more difficult than when you were a kid, and who are they trying to keep out of these things?

Bills @ Patriots (-2.5) Sun 1pm

A great AFCE showdown, and no wind excuses this time around!

Steelers @ Chiefs (-7.5) Sun 4:25pm

Can I get another tie for Yinz?

As for the Sunday night and Monday night prime time games… you’d think the NFL would give us better options than WFT vs Dallas and Fins @ Saints. Gross.

That’s all for this week’s 2MD! Happy Holidays to all, and here’s to hoping the Ravens can deliver the gift of a huge road win for Baltimore this weekend!

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