Posts about Baltimore Ravens

Ravens edge out the Lions; ranking the top 5 teams in the NFL

Lions vs. Ravens

Who says that you need touchdowns to win a game in the NFL? On the road and trying to stay in the driver’s seat for a wild card spot, along with an outside shot at the division, Baltimore was able to do so. The Ravens jumped on Justin Tucker’s back (leg) as he made six field goals, including a 61-yard for the go-ahead score in the final minute. Is there any doubt that he swung thousands of fantasy leagues last night and the few weeks past? Tucker has been on fire lately and John Harbaugh’s decision to let his kicker attempt from 61 yards was the right call. The Ravens offense looked very stale at certain points but they did enough to get in range for field goal after field goal. The first quarter was all Detroit, getting an early touchdown but from there, things just didn’t click on offense. Weird to say that when the Lions have the kinds of weapons that they do. Stafford’s three interceptions are glaring on the stat sheet but the Lions shot themselves in foot multiple times in the game. A dropped pass here, a bad penalty given up there. Joe Flacco was quite opposite of that, not dominating the stat sheet but instead limiting his mistakes while doing just enough for Baltimore to get into field goal range. It was a very important victory for Baltimore, needing to win against the Lions because their next two games will both be tough. With a bit of luck this coming weekend, they could be in position to play for the division title against Cincy when week 17 rolls around. The Lions loss gives the division back to the Bears but with a favorable schedule, they could be back on top as soon as this coming weekend. It’s just the silver lining because losing four of your last five is not the way a team wants to head into the final two weeks with the playoff hopes on the line.

Interesting weekend for some of the top teams in the NFL. Five division leaders (Broncos, Patriots, Bengals, Saints and Eagles) all lost their games this weekend. The stakes were a bit higher in the AFC, where none of the teams just mentioned were able to take advantage of the results. But despite those losses, are the Broncos and Patriots BOTH among the best five teams in the league. Unfortunately for Brady and co, their injury plagued team doesn’t make the cut this time around. Seattle is the clear #1 once again, dominating on the road this past Sunday en route to securing the top seed in the conference. After the Seahawks, it gets a bit complicated because the argument is how to rank established record versus positive momentum in the past few weeks. Denver is coming off a loss but because they hold the tie breaker over the Chiefs (the hottest team in the conference), the Broncos get the edge there. The same goes for the Saints, coming off a puzzling loss and going into Carolina this weekend. I’m giving the edge to the Panthers as the second best team in the conference because despite not owning the tie breaker over New Orleans, they still control their own destiny. The winner of that massive game this weekend will all but seal their spot for a second seed in the conference along with a first round bye. Right, in order, i’d say it’s: Seahawks, Broncos, Panthers, Chiefs and Saints. That does leave out the 49ers, a team firing on all cylinders but because they lose tie breakers to both the Saints and Panthers, they don’t make the cut this time. It’s going to be crazy watching all of the best teams in the league sort each other out in the last couple of weeks. The only downside to that previous sentence is that, as stated, there are only two weeks left in the regular season. Let’s just enjoy these last two precious weeks as much as we can.

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Leftovers from Thanksgiving Day’s slate of NFL games

Oakland Raiders v Dallas Cowboys

It’s always a good day when we can enjoy lots of Thanksgiving food (whatever time every person does it) while having football on the TV for the entire time. I don’t know if we hit the 12 hour mark last night but football fans were pretty close to have 12 straight hours of football. Minus the hour or so of pre-game and halftime shows. The day started off with the Lions and Packers, an NFC North rivalry that goes back a long time but just doesn’t have the same impact without Aaron Rodgers. Back up Matt Flynn was over matched the entire game, sacked 7 times while only throwing 139 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. Credit to the Lions defense as well because they had as big of an impact on this game as some of the best defenses in the league. On offense everything was clicking with Detroit, from top to bottom. Matt Stafford had a couple of turnovers to begin the game (one going back for a score) but towards the end of the second quarter, everything was smooth sailing for the Lions. Megatron was Megatron and their combo running game of Reggie Bush and Joique Bell really brought the offense to another level, much more balanced. Not that anyone felt different but every week confirms that Aaron Rodgers means more to the Packers success than probably any other team in the league. Right now it’s uncertain if he’ll return next week. Now the Lions are back in the driver’s seat for the division as they await this Sunday’s results.

Our second helping of the day featured an odd game between the Cowboys and Raiders. It’s odd because on the very first play of the game the Raiders caused a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. So we’re 12 seconds into the game and the Raiders are up by a touchdown. Things continued to favor the Raiders for rest of the half, doing all the right things on offense. Sure, the Cowboys defense is among the worst of the league but it’s not like the Raiders offense had been lighting it up. At halftime the teams completely switched and the Cowboys nearly dominated the second half from start to finish. The Raiders made things interesting late in the game by getting within one score but without any of their timeouts, it was difficult for Oakland to get the plays they needed. DeMarco Murray led the way in terms of stats (3 rush TDs) but it was a combination of different players on the Cowboys offense that engineered their drives. The Raiders on the other hand didn’t do well against the Cowboys halftime adjustments, showing little signs of what they had done in the first half. Another bad season for the Raiders as they look at making changes and the coming draft. The Cowboys, like the Lions, take hold of the division lead as they await results. Quick shout out to Selena Gomez for looking good during the halftime show.

Things wrapped up in Baltimore with the heated rival Pittsburgh Steelers in town. Normally this is a must watch for any football fan but this season the teams aren’t doing as well as we’re used to. Did they still provide from of the same hard-hitting entertainment? There were some big hits to go with a few scuffles but there were also a lot of odd occurrences. The game came down to an unsuccessful two-point conversion but from the botched field goal to Mike Tomlin’s on the field interference, it was a weird game. But a win is a win and for Baltimore, it keeps them alive in the heated race for the second wild card spot in the conference. All the white keeping the pressure on the Bengals, who are in San Diego this weekend, for the division lead. It was maddening to watch how long it took Pittsburgh to get some offense going, not being able to find the scoreboard until halfway through the 3rd quarter. An offense that looked so good the past couple of weeks sputtered out of the gate and played catch up the entire game. It’s not the type of game that the Steelers want to play when they’re fighting to stay alive for a spot in the postseason. On a side note, the league is looking into Tomlin’s interference on that kick return.

Anyone else riding the Buccaneers (-8) in Carolina this weekend? The Panthers are on a big streak right now but it’s not a streak where they blow teams out as of late. This is a completely different Bucs team from the one the Panthers beat handily about a month ago. The Bucs are playing solid football and I see them keeping it close in Carolina on Sunday.

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Manning’s huge night leads Broncos past Ravens in opening night

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The weather delay might have been the reason that Peyton Manning got off to a slow start but once he got going, there simply wasn’t a way to stop his barrage of TD passes. I predicted yesterday that the Ravens, despite being significant underdogs, would be able to keep it close for the entire game. And for a half, it certainly looked that way. The Ravens were pretty effective in containing Manning’s targets to keep the damage minimal and went into the locker room up by a field goal but that all changed during the 3rd quarter. Manning began to find his receivers, especially Wes Welker in the 3rd and from there it was a night of historic proportions. Manning’s 7 TD night ties the NFL record for most in a single game as he led the Broncos to the first victory of this season. It’s been 44 years since a QB last did what Manning did last night. So big ups to him and anyone who has him as their fantasy QB. Yes, that includes myself so thank you Peyton Manning. And for the Ravens it was simply a combination of their offense not having enough balance (lack of touches for Rice) and their inability to contain Manning’s pass attack. It was the worst loss on the opening game by the defending Super Bowl champion. Back to the drawing board for Baltimore.

While that was a great appetizer for this weekend, it’s certainly time for the main course that comes in about 48 hours. There are some great games on Sunday. Aside from the Cowboys-Giants game come prime time, the games i’m looking forward to the most are the Bengals at Bears, Falcons at Saints and of course the Packers in San Francisco to take on Bryan’s 49ers. I’m slightly on the Bengals bandwagon. I don’t think they’ll reach 12 or 13 wins but I really feel that they can win their division. I also want to see the launch of the Bears’ annual hot start. Falcons at Saints just has so much potential for a high-octane, classic shootout. As far as the Packer-49ers game does, well, much doesn’t need to be said. Two of the best teams in the conference going at it early after their playoff game last season in which the Niners and Kaepernick dominated Green Bay. The revenge factor will definitely be in play. I’m also really interested to see how the 49ers offense will deal with the Crabtree loss and how well other teams have adjusted to the read-option. Games to avoid on Sunday? Well, anything involving the Jets, Raiders or Jaguars is a safe bet to stay away from. Luckily there are enough good early games to help us with that.

As far as the Cowboys go, i’m more optimistic than most. Most people are predicting another 8-8 season for my Boys but I think this season will be different a i’m looking at a division title with a 10-6 record. It remains to be seen that things will change but beating the Giants in Cowboys Stadium (what’s at&t?) on a Sunday night game is the way to start a season of success. Happy football season everyone! Enjoy the games.

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Getting ready for the 2013 NFL season

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It’s been a terrible offseason for myself. In terms of being really prepared for what’s to come this year and getting ready for the season to begin. Real life has gotten in the way over and over so unfortunately i’m not entirely prepared as much as I should be but i’ve crammed all week like i’m back in college, drinking redbull and everything. That’s not the most effective way to prepare for a season but it’s better than nothing. Alas, that’s my personal business and doesn’t matter because ladies and gentleman, football is BACK! Man, it feels so good to say that. I’ll say it again: NFL football is back! After the dregs of summer sports where most fans only care about their baseball team or the random grand slam happening around tennis, finally football begins. In approximately 7 hours and 30 minutes, the Ravens will take the field in Denver to face off against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. The latest betting lines that i’ve seen show the Broncos as a 7.5 point favorite. Reasonable but at the same time, it seems a little high. I feel that the Broncos can score enough to win the game but their lack of pass rush (Von Miller) is going to allow the Ravens make some big plays to keep themselves in the game and cover the line. Aside from tonight’s game, there’s much to be excited about. Here are some of my burning questions:

What will be the teams that regress and the teams that improve?

It happens every season. The six teams that make the playoff for each conference are the never entirely the same in the next season. I’m not sure what the exact stat is but I think at least two from each conference change from season to season. Even though the NFC is very exciting, I think the obvious regression teams are the Vikings and the Redskins. Many people think the Vikings had a bit of luck last season and their schedule this season is much tougher. Adrian Peterson will no doubt have another monster season but will the rest of offense be able to keep up? The Redskins are the other candidate simply because RG3’s knee is still a question and because of how competitive the NFC East is from season to season. So if those teams are out, who’s in? The Saints are poised for a big season after their head coach returns. I like their chances of making the postseason because of their offense but their defense is still a big question so we’ll have to see happens. And the other team that joins the playoff festivities appears to be whatever team wins the NFC East. Since 2004, no team has won that division two years in a row so it’s definitely up for grabs.

Now it gets a bit trickier on the side of the league because while the NFC is very top heavy, the AFC really does feel like lots of teams can win this conference. I’d consider the Texans, Broncos and Patriots as locks for the playoffs in the AFC. But from there i’m struggling to figure it out because I think the North is up for grabs, mostly between the Bengals and Ravens. So maybe while they battle for the division, the other teams grab the wildcard. Will their record be good enough? We’ll have to wait and see. Now, the bandwagon for the Colts regression is absolutely full right now as everyone feels they’re going to take a step back. On the other side, the same amount of people are riding the Chiefs as the team that will greatly improve and make the postseason come winter time. If I had to pick one i’d say it’s more likely that the Chiefs improve and make a run for the postseason. Big upgrade at head coach, their quarterback will finally be at least average (Is anyone happier than Dwayne Bowe this season) and the overall look of their team looks great.

Those are just some of the few thoughts of this season. Tomorrow i’ll have some more predictions and a closer look at the week-to-week match-ups for Sunday but for now, let’s enjoy tonight’s action between the Ravens and Broncos as we embark on a new season of (hopefully) great NFL action. Good look to all the teams but especially to my Dallas Cowboys!

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What would you do with a $120 mil contract? Joe Flacco went to McDonald’s.

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Now that can be a little deceiving in that I don’t mean that he went there and spent nine-figures all at once, i’m pretty sure you’d have to buy hundreds of locations to achieve that. Joe Flacco was just a couple hours into his brand new six-year, $120.6 million deal with the Ravens and the QB was seen in the drive-thru at a local McDonald’s. What did the elite quarterback order? 10 piece McNugget meal, fries and an unsweetened ice tea. Now, i’m not a “mickey d’s” person myself, I prefer the likes of Whataburger when it comes to fast food but if the quarterback wants to eat, let him eat what he pleases. Flacco doesn’t appear to be the type of person that’s going to let a Super Bowl MVP or a shiny new contract go to his head, at least for now it doesn’t. Even though he signed the new contract, many NFL fans and experts immediately began the debate of whether or not Flacco deserves that kind of money.

When using the word “deserve” in any sort of debate or conversation, there are lots of gray areas and thus lots of different stances that can be taken. Do I think Flacco deserves that kind of money? Yes, Flacco deserves a max contract after a great playoff run that eventually led to a Super Bowl victory as much as any other top tier quarterback. Remember, there are only seven starting quarterbacks in the NFL that have a championship and it’s not easy to get on that list no matter how talented the team around the QB is. Chances are that he’s not going to see the entire amount of his contract but for now he’s received a $29 million signing bonus with another $52 million guaranteed over the life of the contract going forward. It’s almost certain that the final couple of years will be restructured to have more flexibility in spending on other players but for now Flacco deserves this max deal and should enjoy it.

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Ravens defeat 49ers in a memorable Super Bowl XLVII

Super Bowl XLVII - Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ers

Now when I mean “memorable” like I did in the title, i’m talking purely from a football standpoint. Let’s set aside the abundance of non-football shenanigans that surround the big game. Most of the time during commercials I was busy checking Twitter for football related reactions so the only one I remember seeing is the “Leon Sandcastle” one but it was excellent. I didn’t see much of Beyonce (am I the only one who did a beer run?) but apparently she killed it so congratulations to her. It ended up being football heavy for me, just how I prefer it. Here’s what stood out the most for me:

A lot of people predicting the game pointed out that things would start out slow for the 49ers once again due to their inexperience and it’s pretty much exactly what happened. The Ravens looked like a veteran team with offensive firepower that had their eye on the prize. It was all Ravens the first half, led by the ELITE play of Joe Flacco (3 TDs) and all of a sudden the game looked like it was going to be a blowout in favor of the Ravens. The Ravens continued their momentum with a TD off a kickoff return and the game looked over until, well, the all mighty black out. The black out was probably the greatest time to ever be on Twitter as a sports fan.

Conspiracy theories were being tossed around during the wait. Clearly the stoppage of play was going to favor the 49ers, giving them time to take a breath and figure out what was going on while halting the momentum of the Ravens. For a while it looked like the teams had literally switched, the Niners having a furious rally to get within one score late in the 3rd quarter. The game got even closer on a Kaepernick TD halfway through the 4th and when it looked like the Niners were going to score to take the lead, the Ravens held on to force a turnover on down. The final play on the drive for the 49ers had some controversy because of an apparent hold but it’s still questionable whether or not the pass was close enough to be caught either way.

It was a game not of two halves but one of post and pre-black out. Ravens win 34-31 and the story lines among the team are plenty. Can Joe Flacco finally be labeled as “elite”? Yes, he was the best quarterback last night and the best throughout the playoffs. Now he has the hardware to back it up. I know it’s tough right now but 49ers fans shouldn’t be too down because they have a very young and talented team that will contend for a spot in the Super Bowl for a long time to come.

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Predicting the champion of Super Bowl XLVII

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After hours of watching various sports networks (NFL Network, ESPN, CBS sports) and reading more articles than I can imagine (SI, Grantland, Yahoo! Sports) it finally comes down to one final game in this NFL season. Let’s just take a moment to remember the 2012 season: from the replacement refs, to the fail mary, to AP and Peyton’s incredible comeback season, to the sensational rookies, to the Pagano speech, to the ridiculous divisional playoff round. It was an excellent season and I think it’s time to culminate it by what I think will be a great game. One thing is for sure, the Ravens and 49ers are two teams that like to overpower their opponents so expect a very physical game. Here are the match ups that I think will make the biggest impact come Sunday evening:

Can the Ravens defense get enough pressure on Kaepernick? The 49ers offensive line is among the best in the NFL, if not the best and the result is a very effective and efficient offense for the Niners. Stack the line and Kaepernick will use his fastball to find his receivers. Toss in nickle/dime packages and the Niners run a deadly pistol scheme. It’ll be interesting to see how a veteran and experienced defense like the Ravens will handle the offense after two weeks of preparation. Can the Ravens offense make the big plays downfield? If you’re going to try and exploit a certain aspect of the Niners defense, it’s going to be their secondary. The Ravens certainly have the QB (can Flacco continue to be elite?) and the weapons on offense to take advantage of a mismatch. Two x-factors that I like: back up RBs Bernard Pierce (Ravens) and LaMichael James (Niners) because I think they’re both capable of making big plays, despite not being the marquee names.

Prediction: It took me a while to try and figure out how this game will play out because I feel these teams are very evenly matched but in different manners. The Ravens are more of a “Cinderella” type story, many picking them to lose against the Broncos AND the Patriots. The 49ers are the more balanced and poised team, going down early in both playoff games but recovering very effectively. The coaching is dead even, both Harbaugh brothers are among the best in the league. It’s impossible to predict how either team will perform when it comes to special teams. I feel like the glaring mismatch comes at the line of scrimmage in favor of the 49ers. You know, the “trenches” or whatever analysts like to call that part of the team. If one team is going to dominate a certain part of the game, it’s going like the offense and defensive lines for the Niners. Sure, the Ravens are completely capable of winning this game with big plays on either side of the ball but i’m going with what’s probable as opposed to what’s possible. From head to toe, the Niners are a slightly better team.

49ers- 27 Ravens- 24

Enjoy the game, the commercials and Beyonce at halftime everyone. And as always: Go Cowboys!

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Highlights from media day at Super Bowl XLVII

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It wasn’t the craziest of media days when you compare it to some of the past but as the day went on, a couple of headlines grabbed most of the attention. Another day before the Super Bowl means another day that Ray Lewis has to grab all the attention and steal the spotlight. Does Lewis plan these “leaked reports” to come out when every single sports media outlet is waiting for a story to surface? It sounds absurd for something like this to blindside the Ravens literally 10 minutes before their turn at media day occurs but it was pretty convenient. Just a thought. By now most people know but for those that don’t, a report surfaced yesterday and Ray Lewis had been using deer antler spray to recover from his torn triceps injury that he suffered earlier this season.

What is deer antler spray? Well I did a little research and from what I can figure, it’s a little-known spray/pill that contains small amounts of deer IGF-1. Stands for Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 which is on the banned substance list for all NFL players. It sounds like a weird place to get enhancement drugs. So after this story came out, plenty of questions were asked to Lewis but he refused to acknowledge anything about the situation. That didn’t really surprise me because what’s he supposed to do, say “yeah, I cheated” right before the biggest game of year? Of course not but it still raises questions about how Lewis was able to recover so quickly and whether or not he did it in a honorable manner. The only thing we’ll get from Ray Lewis is that it’s “part of God’s plan” for him so we’ll never know. Anyone else just tired of all things Ray Lewis?

The 49ers did their media day right before the Ravens and it didn’t have as many fireworks, only Randy Moss claiming that he’s the greatest wide receiver of all time. I’m in the camp of Jerry Rice as the “GOAT” wide receiver but I think Moss could be considered as the most talented receiver of all time, never having reached his full potential because of his attitude/off-field issues. That’s a debate left for another day. Another thing that stood out for me was the abundance of reporters surrounding 49ers back up QB Alex Smith (pictured above) even though he never sat at a podium. One almost feels bad for him but also respect that he’s carried this entire situation with about as much class as any NFL team could ask for.

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