Posted on: December 11, 2008 8:00 am
 

The Time is NOW!

The Week we have all been waiting for is finally upon us. After much speculation as to whether or not it would mean anything, or if it was important, we have found our answer. YES! The biggest game this week and quite possibly the biggest game in the AFC this year happens this weekend. The AFC North Division leading Steelers (10-3) must travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens (9-4).

The Steelers are boasting the top ranked overall defense in the league at the moment. It's a good thing they do. Big Ben and his offense has been......let's say........oh the hell with it, HORRIBLE! If it wasnt for the defense they would probably have at least 3 more losses (Ravens, Cowboys, Chargers) and the Ravens would be looking to clinch the Division. But, alas, this is not so. Besides a few hiccups (Colts, Giants) (Is it a Manning thing? What gives?) the Ravens have been great this year. Many would point to their schedula as indicator of why. I dont see them as having a week schedule. The beat the playoff hopefuls Eagles, Redskins, and Dolphins, pretty handedly while losing essentially on the last play against the Steelers and Titans. Besides the fact that they have the Steelers again this week and at Dallas next week, I would say the had a pretty tough schedule.

The Last time these 2 teams met Rookie running back Rashad Mendenhall said he would rush over 100 yds on a Ravens defense that has not allowed the such in over 2 years. He did get his hundred yards, 5 rushing and the other 95 on the back of the cart as he suffered a season ending injury. But hey, that counts doesnt it? This game will be a slugfest pure an simple. Each defense will lockdown the others offense. I believe the winner of this game will be the team with the most points off turnovers as I see it nearly impossible for either team to just run it down the feild.

PREDICTION - Ravens 16 - Steelers 14 , A Matt Stover FG wins it.

Category: NFL
Posted on: November 17, 2008 10:25 am
Edited on: November 17, 2008 10:40 am
 

Recap Week 11

 

I am sure everyone is already aware of the outcome to yesterday’s game between the New York Giants

and Baltimore Ravens so I will not get into the negatives of the Ravens performance just yet.  I will,

however, address some (very few) positives from this game.

-          Joe Flacco showed, to a certain degree, that he can put a team on his back offensively when he lead them to a touchdown on the opening drive in the second half.

-          The Ravens defense did a decent job keeping tabs on Plaxico Burress limiting him to 47 yards on 3 catches.

-          Matt Stovar broke the NFL Record for most consecutive PAT’s made by drilling his 372<sup>nd.</sup>

-          The defense continues its streak of not allowing a 100 yard rusher.

-          ……… That’s all I have……..

       

      Now for the bad….

-          The defensive line was completely dominated all game long. They allowed the Giants to run for a total of 207 yards on 33 carries. That number is including a 36 yard run by Jacobs in the 1<sup>st</sup> quarter and a 77 yard run by Bradshaw in the 4<sup>th</sup> quarter. Below is a chart showing what the Ravens have allowed rushing this year.

 

 

                     

 

-          Unlike the success the Giants had running the ball the Ravens running backs amassed on 47 yards on 19 carries. Their leading rusher, Joe Flacco, Had 57 yards on just 6 carries.

-          After pulling the game within 10 in the beginning of the 3rd quarter Flacco threw a 50 yard touchdown pass to Aaron Ross. Only problem with that is the Aaron Ross is the starting corner for the Giants. (Though I cannot give him the blame on this one being that the ball hit off of Mason’s hands and helmet before being picked.

-          Eli Manning was only sacked once, but, for the most part, he had time in the pocket to pick apart the defense.

-          Though Flacco was only sacked once he was hurried into making bad throws which lead to two interceptions and running for over 50 yards.

-          Time of Possession and penalty yards were basically equal for both teams meaning the Giants defense was giving yards up to their own 30 then they put the clamp on.

This was a growing experience for the Ravens. It was obvious that the Giants were just the batter team mechanics wise. They played their style of game and the Ravens were never able to make them uncomfortable. The Giants Offensive Line should get the game ball for this one. They opened lanes all day for Jacobs, Ward, and Bradshaw as well as allowing Eli to have some time in the pocket. Besides the interception by Ray Lewis before Halftime there weren’t too many mistakes from the Giants.

Even with the loss the Ravens are 6-4 and if the season ended now would be the last wild card team. Their schedule doesn’t get any easier from here. They have 3 NFC East opponents remaining, Pittsburgh, and only 2 sub .500 teams in Cincinnati and Jacksonville. I believe that in order for them to make the playoffs they must finish at least 10-6, which means they would have to go 4-2 against the toughest part of their schedule. Anymore games like this and their playoff hopes could be gone.

Category: NFL
Posted on: November 12, 2008 10:10 am
 

Ravens - Giants PREVIEW

At this point last season the Ravens were down and out with nothing promising to look forward to in the up coming season. Their defense was aging, quarterback situation in utter ruin, and many devastating injuries to key playmakers on both offense and defense. There was nothing to cheer for, no playoff hopes, and no end in sight for a dismal offense and poor play calling. Their fate was altered in the offseason when the organization decided that a change in regime was needed from the old Baltimore football which had been strangling the very fan base that made them since 2001, to a relatively unknown coach with fresh ideas and tons of energy to boot. Of course there were nay-sayers, those few who supported Brian Billick 100%. You would have thought, and right fully so, that the Ravens could go shot for shot with any offense, I mean facts are facts, they had two coach’s running their offense (Brian Billick and Jim Fassel) who had faced each other a few years back when the Ravens defeated the Giants and were crowned Super Bowl Champions. It took a special teams coach from Philadelphia (John Harbaugh) and a coach (Cam Cameron) with a 1-15 record just a year earlier to turn this offense around. I know many fans circled this date on their calendars’ when the Ravens schedule was released simply because they were facing the Super Bowl Champions. Others, like I, looked to this game as a release, a release from the downward spiral the Ravens were thrown into after their Super Bowl XXXV victory of the Giants and a release from the tyrannical offense of once Giants Head Coach Jim Fassel.

The Baltimore Ravens (6 – 3) get the chance this week to exercise their demons as they head away from home to face the New York Giants (8 – 1). Both teams come into this game boasting two of the best defenses in the league as well as dominating rushing attacks. The Giants must contain Willis McGahee, Ray Rice, and Le'Ron McClain if they hope to beat the Ravens this week. The Ravens have contained numerous rushers throughout their streak of not allowing a 100 yd rusher and I don’t see Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward, or Ahmad Bradshaw (Earth, Wind, & Fire) being able to end the streak. Joe Flacco had been nothing short of impressive in the past four games throwing for six touchdowns and no interceptions. Todd Heap as well as the offensive line has stepped up in a big way these past couple of weeks and have this offense clicking. The Giants defense has been suffocating as of late and leads the NFL in sacks. This is an ultimate test os strentghs with the Giants damging rushing offense against the unmovable force that is the Ravens rushing defense.

KEY MATCHUP – Ravens OFFENSIVE LINE vs. Giants DEFENSIVE LINE – The Ravens must control the battle up front to allow the running game to get going and give Flacco the time he needs to find his open receivers down field.

KEY PLAYERRay Lewis and Terrell Suggs – It is almost a given that Eli Manning is going to make so poor throws, Lewis and Suggs need to be there to make him pay for it.

PREDICTIONBaltimore Ravens 21New York Giants 20

Category: NFL
Posted on: November 10, 2008 8:11 am
Edited on: November 10, 2008 6:35 pm
 

Could it be?

I sat down around 8:00 PM Sunday night with my plate of pot roast with mashed potatoes and extra brown gravy ready to catch the Eagles vs. Giants game when I noticed the score bar at the bottom of the screen and decided to take a look. Nothing out of the ordinary, Titans win, Lions lose, Ravens win an Steelers lose and they are tied for the AFC North. Wait! What was that last thing again? Ravens win? No, No, after that. Tied for the AFC North with the Steelers. THAT'S IT!

Whether you’re a Ravens Fan or not I am willing to bet just about everything that you wouldn’t have had them in this position, this late in the season. You would have pointed to a rookie Head Coach and rookie Quarterback to back up your arguement but could never quite count out the defense. Everyone who has at least a passing interest in the NFL knows that the Ravens have one of, if not the best defenses in the NFL. No real surprise there. You figured Joe Flacco would sputter a bit and that he did for the first few games. You knew that this Ravens team was a run first, run last, and run every time in the middle type of offense. For the most part you would be right about these statements, until Week 7 that is. In Week 7, everything changed. For the next four games the defense wasn’t just good, but unbreakable, Joe Flacco did not appear as a rookie, but as a seasoned vet, oh yeah, and the running game was good to. It seems as if everything the Ravens have done since Week 7 culminated in Week 10. The running game was unstoppable, the defense was outstanding, and Todd Heap HAD 2 TOUCHDOWNS! I can’t believe I just said that. All in all the Ravens have been amazing as of late. Only five short weeks ago they were pounded by the very same team that used to be Baltimore's beloved franchise not so long ago. The Ravens and their fans were embarrassed and heartbroken by the loss. The Ravens could have just rolled over and died deciding that it would just be a rebuilding season, but instead they chose to fight. They rallied their troops behind the veteran leadership on the defense (Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Ed Reed), the running game (Le'Ron McClain, Ray Rice, Willis McGahee) helped take a little pressure off of Flacco, the offensive line decided it was time to block, TODD HEAP HAD 2 TOUCHDOWNS, (I have a strange feeling I mentioned this before) and Flacco developed poise and decision making ability.All of this happened in just four weeks.

I am honestly not sure how the Ravens record will look at the conclusion of this season, nor, in the grand scheme of things, do I think it really matters. The Ravens have already surpassed all expectations for this season and we still have seven games remaining. The determination the Ravens have shown recently is something to be admired not just by their fans but also by the NFL. The Steelers come into Baltimore on Week 15 in what could almost definatly be the deciding game for the division. Regardless of whether the Ravens win or lose the game, they have defeated their critics this season. Sure, a win against the Steelers and potentially winning the Division is not something you give up on but I like to think the Ravens fans, win or lose, are thankful for the heart, passion, fire that they see in their team every down in every game, something that hasn’t been seen for a few years.

So I ask you...... Could it be? Could they be the AFC North Champions?

Category: NFL
Posted on: November 5, 2008 8:00 pm
 

Minnesota Timberwolves - Week 2 Matchups

As some of my fellow Timberwolves fans may know I made a thread last week of my projections for Week 1. Lets just say it didn't go quite as planned. They were able to take care of the Sacramento Kings as I projected and lose to the Dallas Mavericks as I also projected. The Oklahoma City Thunder were another story. They were somehow able to handle business even with their young squad and lack of interior depth. Timberwolves record thus far - (1 - 2).

Now on to Week 2.

Wednesday, Nov. 5th - San Antonio Spurs @ Minnesota Timberwolves

The Spurs and Timberwolves both come into this game struggling mightily. The only difference being that the Spurs are Western Conference runner-ups from last year and the Timberwolves are in rebuilding mode. Jefferson will not have free reign in the post like he did last week. If the Timberwolves have any chance of winning this one they must get Mike Millerand Rashad McCants going early and often.

PREDICTION - San Antonio Spurs by 10

Friday, Nov. 7th - Minnesota Timberwolves @ Sacramento Kings

The Timberwolves only win this season is against the Kings. Kevin Love and Al Jefferson were able to bang inside for high percentage baskets as well as easy rebounds. I see basically the same thing happening here. With Brad Miller still out the Kings really have no one capable of containing our interior. The only way we lose the game is by careless turnovers and early foul trouble (two things that are plaguing us thus far).

PREDICTION - Minnesota Timberwolves by 6

Saturday, Nov. 8th - Minnesota Timberwolves @ Portland Trailblazers

It appears that Greg Oden will not be returning for this game which is good news for us. Aldridge vs. Jefferson will be the key matchup here. They should be fairly equal in the amount of points the produce but we must win the battle on the boards. Corey Brewer will have to step up big time as I expect that he will spend time one on one against Brandon Roy. If we can keep Roy under 20 points we will have a chance in this game. I am calling the upset!

PREDICTION - Minnesota Timberwolves by 1

WEEK 2 MVP - Mike Miller - 23 PPG, 5 APG, 3 RPG, 1 SPG, 43% FG, 92% FT - His shooting is key to our success this week with defenses focusing in on Jefferson he should have so decent looks.

PLAYER TO KEEP AN EYE ON - Kevin Love - He has played well through the first week of the season and I hope to see this continue against two of the top Western Conference teams. Our record after Week 2 - (3 - 3)

Category: NBA
Posted on: November 3, 2008 9:41 am
 

Baltimore Ravens - Wrap up and Preview

POSTGAME WRAP-UP

In my humble opinion, this is everything a Ravens’ fan wants to see from their team in a game. There was an outstanding aerial assault (Flacco – 17/29, 248 yds, 2 td)(Mason – 9 rec, 136 yds, 1 td), a commanding ground attack (Rice – 21 att, 154 yds)(McClain – 14 att, 34 yds, 1td), and a stifling defense (Suggs – 42 yd int return for td). The game was tied at 13 at halftime. The 3rd quarter was almost completely controlled by the Browns as they jumped out to a 14 point advantage until McClain cut it to 7 with little over a minute left in the 3rd. As they entered the 4th quarter the Ravens found themselves trailing by a touchdown and in need of a couple plays to tie the game. They forced the Browns to punt after a 3 and out and Figurs was able to return the punt into Browns territory. A Touchdown pass to Mason and a field goal by Stovar gave the Ravens the lead with a little over 5 minutes remaining. A interception returned for a touchdown by Suggs wrap the victory up for the Ravens.

                The Ravens offense has really come into its own the last couple of weeks. Flacco has looked amazing with 5 tds and 0 int the last three games. McGahee was a game time decision and was supposed to get some carries but with the way Rice was running, there was no use risking it. Rice needed to step up with the absence of McGahee and 154 yds later step up he did. On another positive note, this marks the first time this season that the Ravens had two WR with a touchdown in a game (Mason and Clayton). The defense keeps their rushing streak alive for another week as they shut down former Raven Lewis. There was one play in the game that may have made this on closer than it actually was. Anderson’s touchdown pass to Edwards was a fight for the ball between Walker and Edwards with Walker coming out of the scuffle with possession. Though Walker clearly came out with the ball the touchdown was still rewarded to Edwards.

WEEK 10 PREVIEW

                The Ravens moved to 5-3 and a potential tie for first place in the AFC North. They have to travel to Houston this week in a makeup game of their Week 2 matchup which was rescheduled due to the Hurricane that ravished Texas.  The Houston Texans come into this game at 3-5 but their record may be uncharacteristic as to how good this team really is. They boast one of the top 5 offenses in the NFL and will be matched up against one of, if not the, best defenses in the league. Something has to give. Matt Schaub may not be available for this game but they have a very capable backup in Sage Rosenfels. The Ravens corners must be able to contain Johnson and Walter and the linebackers must find a way to shut down Owen Daniels. Daniels has risen to elite status when it comes to tight ends this season. He has over 500 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns thus far this season, not to mention he is a fairly decent blocker. The Texans also boast a Rookie of the Year candidate in Steve Slaton. Slaton reminds me of a young Brian Westbrook as he is as much of a receiving threat as he is a running threat. Suggs, Lewis, and Scott are going to have their hands full with Slaton and Daniels.

KEY MATCHUP Frank Walker vs. Andre Johnson – The only way they can hope to contain Slaton and Daniels is to stop Johnson. If Johnson is open often this game look for the Ravens to double him leaving the middle of the field open.

PREDICTION – Baltimore Ravens – 27 – Houston Texans – 24

SIDENOTE – I truly hope it doesn’t happen but I see the streak of not allowing a 100 yd rusher coming to an end this week. If not this week then Week 12 against Philadelphia.  These are the only two I possibly see happening.

Category: NFL
Posted on: October 31, 2008 11:40 am
Edited on: October 31, 2008 2:20 pm
 

Baltimore Ravens: Week 9 Preview

The Ravens will be traveling into Cleveland this week to take on the Browns for the second time this season. In the last meeting, the Ravens were able to dominate the Browns on both sides of the ball on their way to putting up 28 points which is the second highest offensive total for them so far this season.Joe Flacco did not look great in the previous meeting throwing for 2 interceptions. The running game was key with both McGahee and McClain totaling over 140 yards and 3 touchdowns.

The Ravens (4 - 3) and Browns (3 - 4) are set for a pivotal divisional matchup. If the Ravens win this game they separate themselves for the bottom of the division and makes their second matchup against the Steelers just that more important. The Browns need this win to get back into playoff hunt in the AFC. Baltimore's defense has been nothing short of amazing this season. They continue to keep running backs throughout the league scratching and clawing for every inch. Joe Flacco has really come into his own the last couple weeks and actually has this offense clicking. During the last 2 games the Ravens have put up 27 and 29 points respectively and Flacco has thrown for 2 touchdowns and even ran for a touchdown. I expect the Ravens to once again be dependent on their rushing attack. McClain has not been a big factor the last two weeks but I expect them to get him back involved in the offense as he was earlier this season.

The Prediction: 24 - 13 - Baltimore Ravens

Key Matchup: Derek Anderson vs. Ravens secondary - Anderson has come on a bit in the past few games and the Ravens must contain this. Safety and Corner blitzes should do the trick.

The next two games have the Ravens at Cleveland and at Houston. I am confident in them winning these games bringing their recored to 6 - 3. After that the schedule gets tough for them as they will face all four NFC East teams, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Jacksonville. I can see the beating Cincinnati and Jacksonville but will have to take one and maybe even two from the other five teams. They are at home against Washington, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh so I like their chances in taking two of those. See you on Monday for my Ravens - Browns wrap-up.

Category: NFL
Posted on: October 13, 2008 9:26 am
 

Ravens Week 6 RECAP & Week 7 PREVIEW

This may be a little off subject but I feel the need to thank the Washington Redskins for losing $1000.00 for me. Way to come through!

RECAP

Now that I got that out of the way lets get on to the game (or lack there of). So much for the Colt's defense not showing up. I think it was easy for everyone who watched to see that the Colt's controlled every aspect of the game. They were throwing at will, controlling the clock, and forcing turnovers. Flacco was responsible for most of the turnovers finishing the game with 3INT and 2 fumbles.Through five games Flacco has 2TD's and 8 TO. I have giving the benefit of the doubt to Flacco for the last couple of weeks and will continue to do so as long as he seems to be improving on a weekly basis. I believe the fault lies mostly with the atrocious play of the Offensive Line and questionable at best play-calling by Cam Cameron. The Ravens were getting beat down in the first half and what does Cam do offensively? He runs plays as if he is up by 10 with 3 minutes left in the game trying kill the clock.When your down by three scores late in the 3rd you don't continue to run the ball and use dump passes, let your quarterback air it out! The longest Ravens play (54 yd pass to Mason) came in the 4th quarter! All-Pro lineman Willie Anderson took over where Adam Terry left off by allowing the pass rush to get to Flacco almost all day. This has been the story of Flacco's rookie year thus far. Set, Hike, okay there 5 guy rushing me, coach says don't take the sack, running around like a mad man now, roll right, I CANT SEE DOWNFIELD!, INTERCEPTION! In turn, when Flacco did have some time he held onto the ball far to long. Oh, and another thing, was there ANYONE covering a Colt receiver? Marvin Harrison had his best game in over a year at the hands of what is supposedly the best defense in the league. I guess they really missed Fabian.

Ok, let me gain my composure. They were some bright spots through all of the idiocies. Flacco had over 60% completion percentage again this season. The defense still hasn't allowed a 100 yd rusher. The defense looked a whole lot better in the second half only allowing one TD. Ray Rice looked to be the best offensive player for the Ravens. He finished with 87 total yds (23 rush, 64 pass).

PREVIEW

This week the Ravens (2-3) head into Miami (2-3) to take on the surging Dolphins. Miami comes in determined after a heart breaking loss in the final seconds to the Houston Texans. With Ronnie Brown back to original form the Dolphins pose a much greater threat then many thought at the beginning of the season. Pennington has taking command of this offense and looks to bring his team back to .500. After an embarrassing lose at the hand of the Colt's we need to come out clicking on all cylinders. I think its clear to everyone what Miami likes to do on Offense. The Ravens must stay at home and not bite on the fakes. This Dolphin defense has been decent to say the least the last couple of weeks against some of the more potent offenses in the league. Cam Cameron MUST open the playbook and allow Flacco to air it out in this game. The only way they will establish there rushing offense is to establish some kind of passing offense.

Key Matchup: Ravens Linebackers vs. Miami Rushing Attack and TE's- We all know the main passing threats in the Miami offense are their TE's. Scott, Suggs, and Lewis will have the challenge of trying to lock up the Miami TE's and RB's. It wont be easy.

Key Player(s): Offensive Line- THEY must give Flacco some time and in turn he must get the ball out quicker.

Prediction: Dolphins 20 - Ravens 17

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com