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Monday Morning Quarterback: Week 3

Let me first start off by saying that the city of Cleveland absolutely HATES the Ravens. We travel A LOT to opposing cities with fans to watch Ravens games, and this certainly made our top-5 worst fan-interaction list. We realize every fan base has their select A-holes (as I'm sure the Ravens do), but Cleveland's distaste for the Ravens was across the board. I'm surprised I did not even run across a toddler flipping us the bird. Enjoy wearing jerseys for a back-up frat boy QB. That looks like fun. Anyways, I digress. Let's get into the actual game re-cap:

  1. Offensive Line Domination: The Browns had no answer to the power blocking/running style of KO, Yanda, and Taliaferro. The Ravens were shredding off 4-6 yard gains with ease and putting their offense in positions to succeed. So far, Kubiak's influence on the running game is the biggest difference we see from last year's team. We'll see if he sticks with Zo, or moves back to incumbent starter, Pierce this coming week. It's a storyline to watch.

  2. Our secondary is BAD: It is inexcusable to get absolutely lit-up by Brian Hoyer, Andrew Hawkins, and Miles Austin. Matt Elam looked lost, dazed, and confused. Webb (understandably) was rusty. And the combo of Brown/Jackson don't deserve to be on the field for more than a handful of plays per game. The loss of Corey Graham turns out to be more significant than originally thought. Hopefully the addition of Will Hill after Week 6 will turn around this unit. It's going to be ugly when we play a real Quarterback.

  3. Trust in our defense: It is inexcusable to get absolutely lit-up by Brian Hoyer, Andrew Hawkins, and Miles Austin. Matt Elam looked lost, dazed, and confused. Webb (understandably) was rusty. And the combo of Brown/Jackson don't deserve to be on the field for more than a handful of plays per game. The loss of Corey Graham turns out to be more significant than originally thought. Hopefully the addition of Will Hill after Week 6 will turn around this unit. It's going to be ugly when we play a real Quarterback.

    Justin Tucker is miles better than Billy Cundiff: No more explanation needed.

Next Up: Carolina @ Baltimore Sunday @ 1pm.

Steve Smith Sr looks to stay hot as he faces his ex-team. ICE UP SON!

Join BMORE Around Town at our #PurpleTailgate this Sunday for only $30! Here are the event details:
Cleveland @ Ravens Purple Tailgate
-Chris Caldwell, BMORE Around Town


Ravens Week 3 Preview

This one is intriguing... perhaps way more than any Ravens/Browns matchup in recent years. Both teams are coming off impressive wins at home vs. quality opponents. Both teams have a chance to assert themselves as a threat to the Bengals. The loser of the game on Sunday will have a tough climb from the basement of the AFC North. For being such an early-season game, this game holds a lot of weight. Here are the things to watch for Sunday:

Week 3: Ravens(1-1) at Browns (1-1)

  1. Can the Ravens get Torrey Smith going?

    Through 2 games, the Ravens #1 WR has been invisible. He's totaled 4 catches for 60 yards. Pathetic. Kubiak's offense is known for producing HUGE numbers for the beneficiary "X" receiver (see: Andre Johnson). Something tells me Kubiak gives Torrey multiple chances to make a play down the field this week against a Browns team he fared well against last year. 21 targets for 160 yards over 2 games. Get ready Joe Hayden...

  2. Have a day, D-Line!

    Nobody on the Ravens roster has a sack that is not named Elvis Dumervil. Don't expect Suggs to finally fill up the stat sheet this Sunday. He'll be working against big Joe Thomas who is one of the best LT's in the league. Ngata/Canty will be put to the test against a Browns team looking to pound the rock. Brandon Williams is out, so these two will play a lot of snaps. All of a sudden the Ravens are painfully thin up front. They could get gassed if the Browns have early success on the ground.

  3. Take advantage of Cleveland's lack of playmakers.

    Cleveland's top play-maker is a hobbled Jordan Cameron. Other than that, they have Miles "hamstring" Austin, and a bunch of possession receivers. Terrence West has looked good, but he is not really a home-run-hitter this early in his career. Meanwhile, the Ravens have a better offensive weapon at every offensive position across the board. No need to get cute, our offense is vastly better. Execute.

Final Thoughts/Predictions

Vegas has the Ravens as 2 point favorites on the road, but I don't see this one being quiet that close. I expect the Ravens to open up their offense a little and the Browns simply won't be able to keep up. Final Score: Ravens 27, Browns 17.

If you are in Cleveland for the game, hit us up over at BMORE Around Town as we'll be throwing parties/tailgates all weekend. Let's Go Ravens!!!
-Chris Caldwell, BMORE Around Town


Monday Morning Quarterback: Week 2

The Ravens absolutely dominated the Pittsburgh Steelers last Thursday on both sides of the ball for a much-needed victory. I was trying to convince myself that it wasn't considered a "must-win" game, but imagine starting 0-2, at home, against 2 division opponents... Nevertheless, the Ravens rallied around themselves and blocked out off the field distractions to take care of business in Baltimore. Here were the difference makers:

  1. A play-making defense. The Ravens defense set the tone on the opening Steelers drive by absolutely CRUSHING Big Ben on a 3rd down pass play, only to get flagged for a questionable personal foul. Many plays later in the drive, Daryl Smith stripped the ball (in field goal range) to give the ball (deservingly) back to the Ravens with 0 points on the board. This veteran play was huge in keeping the crowd in the game early. Throw it another fumble recovery by Mosley and 2 sacks by Dumervil and the linebackers had a really nice night.

  2. An effective running game. While the Ravens didn't necessary fill up the stat sheet, their running game was efficient, timely, and physical. Bernard Pierce looked very strong, and Forsett was the lightning to his thunder with a nice 41 yard scamper. Another affective runner was, wait for it... Joe Flacco. Joe successfully converted two 1-yard QB sneaks, gaining 2 yards on them both. You can tell he's worked on these (or just has a center now who can block someone). Also not to be overlooked, the Ravens won the time of possession, 35 min - 25 min. Mission Accomplished.

  3. The crowd/atmosphere of the game. Kudos to the crowd for sticking behind their team through all of the Ravens off-the-field issues over the last few weeks and keeping the intensity for this rivalry. M&T was loud and the Steelers were certainly rattled. I cannot remember the last time a Steelers/Ravens game wasn't even competitive in the 4th quarter.

Next Up: Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns

The Browns have actually looked like a solid football team through 2 weeks. Not going to be a push-over win by any means.

Join BMORE Around Town on our #PurpleRoadTrip to Cleveland this weekend for only $325! Here are the event details:
Cleveland @ Ravens Purple Tailgate
-Chris Caldwell, BMORE Around Town


Ravens Week 2 Preview

I want to open by saying this article will not contain the words "Ray" or "Rice" so if that's what you're looking for, you've came to the wrong place! IT'S STEELERS WEEK!! It's the time for googling "ugly things in Pittsburgh" and sending those pictures to those annoying people you work with who talk about how great their team was before they were even born. Why don't Steelers fans change burnt out light bulbs? They like to talk about how good the old one was.

Week 2: Steelers (1-0) @ Ravens (0-1)

The Ravens are coming off a "mediocre-at-best" team performance at home vs. the Bengals in which they still had a chance to win the game. If the same effort is displayed on Thursday, don't count on getting the "W" against the division-rival Steelers who are coming off a putrid defensive effort against the Brian Hoyer-led, Josh Gordon-less Browns @ home. Since divisions were a "thing" in the NFL, only 5 teams have opened the season 0-2, at home, against division opponents. Here are the Ravens keys to the game this Thursday to avoid being team #6.

  1. Run. Run. Run.

    Recognize that the Steelers couldn't stop Ben Tate and Terrance West on the ground, and employee the same attack with Pierce, Forsett, and Taliaferro. Note: the Browns employee a zone-blocking scheme that is nearly identical to the Ravens and the Steelers didn't have a clue how to stop it last week. Why change anything? The Goal: Control time of possession 35 min - 25 min and rack up 175+ rushing yards, 1 TD.

  2. Get after Big Ben early and often.

    The Ravens had ZERO sacks of Dalton last week and rarely ever made him move his feet. When playing at home, with "dominant" pass rushers such as Suggs and Dumervil, you must alter the way the Steelers want to run their offense. While it isn't necessary to send 5+ players after the QB every play, more production needs to be had from the base 4 rushers each play (typically some combo of Suggs, Dumervil, Ngata, Canty, Williams, McPhee, Tyson). The Goal: 3 sacks + 3 more QB knock-downs of Ben.

  3. Once run game is established, expose the Steelers secondary.

    You may not realize it yet, but this Steelers defense is BAD. If the Ravens don't hang 24+ points on them @ home, it's time to start worrying about our new offense. Torrey Smith should run circles around a washed-up Ike Taylor. Troy Polamalu isn't a spring-chicken anymore, either. The Goal: Torrey Smith 100+ Rec Yards, 1 TD.

Final Thoughts/Predictions

If the Ravens don't come out completely un-prepared and flat (due to off the field distractions) I expect them to win this one. Going 0-2 at home, vs the division to start the season is a tough hole to be in. Also expecting a higher-scoring affair that a normal Ravens/Steelers battle: Ravens 30, Steelers 24. (Vegas Line: Ravens by 2.5 pts).

Don't forget to check out our #PurpleTailgate before Thursday's game! $30: All-inclusive beer/liquor/food for 3.5 hours.
Steelers @ Ravens Purple Tailgate
-Chris Caldwell, BMORE Around Town


Monday Morning Quarterback: Week 1

So much for "perfect in home-openers under Harbaugh." The Ravens were taken to school yesterday by the Bengals in their 23-16 loss. The game, honestly, wasn't nearly that close. Without a bonehead play by PacMan jones for an 80 yard Steve Smith TD, the Ravens didn't even stand a chance. Here were the difference makers:

  1. Did Suggs and Dumervil even dress to play the game? When you have two "difference-makers" at defensive end, it is inexcusable to have them both be SILENT the entire game. Dalton hardly ever had to move his feet before making a throw. While the D-Line did a good job shutting down the run, they have got to get more pass pressure. That being said, the secondary did a good job holding strong while the D-line attempted (poorly) to get after the QB.

  2. 62 pass attempts. 7 of which, were dropped passes. Losing or not, you cannot throw the ball 62 times and expect to win. Kubiak's offense is built around zone-running and working off the play-action. I'd understand if it was a 3-4 TD game, but the game was never outside of 2 scores. Stick to your brand of offense. I love Joe Flacco, but he is not a gun-slinger.

  3. The crowd. It was a very "average" display from the home-crowd at M&T. Far from the seat-rattling cheers that we're used to when playing at home. The team will certainly need our back this Thursday against the Steelers.

Final Thoughts

As much as I hate to say it, Thursday might be a must-win game for the Ravens. Starting 0-2, at home, against the division, heading on the road, is a pretty tough hole to climb out of. It's Steelers week, let's get pumped!


Ravens Week 1 Preview

Far different from this time last year, the Ravens will NOT open the 2014 campaign as the defending World Champions. Since hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in February 2012, the team has undergone a complete offensive and defensive facelift. That being said, there seems to be a lack of general consensus about how the Ravens will finish this season, leading to an exciting buzz of uncertainty around the city leading into Week 1.

Week 1: Bengals (0-0) @ Ravens (0-0)

Ravens host the defending AFC North champions in the first of 3 consecutive division battles (vs Bengals, vs Steelers, @Browns) that is likely to set the tone for the remainder of the season. Here are the "3 Game Changers" to watch for during this Week 1 showdown:

  1. Establishing a Running Game Under Gary Kubiak:

    Coming off a dismal year being ranked dead last in the NFL in Yards-Per-Carry, this is item is on the top of my list. With Ray Rice suspended, the load will fall on Pierce, Taliaferro, and Forsett who led the NFL in rushing collectively during the pre-season. Stringing together a few 5-8 yard gains would be a pleasant surprise to fans who are so used to seeing Rice and Pierce struggle to squeak out 1-2 yards on 1st downs last year. Even better than setting up 2nd-and-short is the fact that establishing the run opens up what Kubiak is all about...Hard play-action passes that press the ball down the field. The goal: 150+ yards rushing, plus two 40+ yard pass plays.

  2. How Will The Secondary Hold Up:

    Believe it or not, Andy Dalton threw the 3rd most touchdown passes in the NFL last year. Shocking, I know, but the Red Rocket (Dalton) has some real weapons at his disposal when under center. With Webb/Smith probably not at 100%, Elam taking on a new (albeit his natural) position, and Free Safety being a combination of newcomers (Stewart and Brooks), there is plenty to worry about with AJ Green coming to town. The goal: Bend, but don't Break in the secondary and hold Green to less than 125 yards receiving.

  3. The Pass Rush:

    During large portions of games last year, you could easily forget that the Ravens own TWO all-pro Outside Linebackers (Suggs and Dumervil) that are counted on to dominate their end of the line of scrimmage and wreak havoc on the opposing QB. Ever heard the saying, "the best corner back and safety combination is two good defensive ends?" This couldn't be more true for the Ravens. If Suggs and Dumervil return to Pro-Bowl form, the press "in your face" style of Jimmy Smith and Matt Elam will be that much more effective with Dalton forced to get rid of the ball quickly. The goal: 2 sacks and 4 QB Hurries of Dalton (between Suggs and Dumervil).

Final Thoughts/Predictions

Opening Day crowd at M&T Bank Stadium will be a difference-maker. Flacco will make less mistakes than Dalton. Ravens have the special teams advantage. Score: Ravens 27, Bengals 23. (Vegas Odds: Ravens by 2).

Don't forget to check out our #PurpleTailgate before Sunday's game!
-Chris Caldwell, BMORE Around Town

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