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NFL Week 14 Game Preview: Detroit Lions (2-10) @ Baltimore Ravens (6-6)

It’s time to take a look at some quick trends/notes going into this afternoon’s matchup

-Slow starts have been tough on the Ravens this season. When they are trailing after 3 quarters, they are 0-6. They appeared to be on track for a serious comeback last Monday at Green Bay, but never tied or took the lead. Being down 17-0 at halftime certainly hurts a team’s chances of winning.

-The injury report is pretty full today. As of 10:50 this morning, Mark Clayton (hamstring) has been ruled out of today’s contest. Look for more passes in the direction of Kelley Washington in Clayton’s absence. Ed Reed (hip) is doubtful and Terrell Suggs (knee) is questionable. I don’t expect either of them to play this afternoon. UPDATE: As of 11:41: Reed and tackle Jared Gaither (foot) are INACTIVE. Suggs is active and expected to play.

-With rookie quarterback Matt Stafford out, veteran Daunte Culpepper gets the start today for Detroit. He isn’t the player he once was in his glory days as a Viking. But he still has a great arm and is tough to bring down.

-Keep your eyes on receiver Calvin Johnson and rookie tight end Brandon Pettigrew of the Lions. These two both have a tremendous set of hands and are good at getting open. They are young, talented, and represent the future of the organization.

-Prediction: The Ravens are coming off a tough loss. Although they had a short week to prepare, I think they will be very focused today. Getting on the board early is crucial. It will allow the D to pin their ears back and go after Culpepper. Big bounce back game today. RAVENS 35 – LIONS 13.

-Thats all I have for now. Kick off is just under an hour and a half away. I will do my best to send updates from the stadium via the cell phone. Never done that before. Let’s try it today!


NFL Week 13 Game Preview: Baltimore Ravens (6-5) at Green Bay Packers (7-4)

-Good morning. I’m terribly sorry for not posting in over a month. I’ve been quite busy with school and have been too lazy to update this little site. But we are back on track, so let’s preview tonight’s important game against the Green Bay Packers.
-Lambeau Field: The Ravens are making only their third ever visit to “The Frozen Tundra”. They failed to win in their first two visits. Green Bay won 28-10 in 1998. In 2001, Brett Favre torched the Baltimore D for 337 yards and three TD’s en route to a 31-20 victory.
-Ravens on Monday Night: In recent years, Baltimore has struggled in their Monday Night appearances.  Entering the 2009 season, the Ravens had only one road victory on Monday Night…ever. That came in 2001 with a 16-10 win over the Tennessee Titans. They earned their second victory this season with a 16-0 shutout of the Browns on Nov. 16. And with the exception of a 49-3 blowout of Green Bay in 2005, The Ravens lost all of the other eight Monday Nighters they played in from 2003-2008.
Ray Rice: The guy has been simply sensational. A 5 foot 8 spark plug, Rice is averaging 127.5 yards from scrimmage per game, good for 2nd best in the NFL. He has amassed 100 or more yards from scrimmage in eight consecutive games. And Mr. Rice leads all running backs in receptions (61) and receiving yards (582).
Aaron Rodgers: After patiently waiting in the shadows of Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers has emerged as one of the leagues top young quarterbacks. Rodgers is tough and has a laser for an arm. He has put up some decent numbers this season. His 104.9 passer rating is tied for third best in the league. And his 8.3 yards per attempt is ranks for fourth. But his offensive line has done a horrible job of protecting him, allowing a league worst 44 sacks. One can only imagine where his numbers would if he had protection similar to a Drew Brees (15 sacks) or Peyton Manning (10 sacks).
Prediction: This game is vital for both teams, which is why it is going to be so much fun to watch. The key to the game in my opinion has to be whether or not the Ravens can get to Aaron Rodgers. Not just pressure though, because that will not be enough. They need to take advantage of Green Bay’s O-line and put Rodgers on his back. Dating to the 2000 season, the Packers have posted an 18-4 record at Lambeau in December and January regular-season games. A bunch of things have to go right for the Ravens tonight. A few big plays from Rodgers and one or two costly turnovers by Baltimore will be the difference. RAVENS 26 – PACKERS 33

NFL Week 9 Game Preview: Baltimore Ravens (4-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (5-2)


Game Info:

Kickoff: 1 p.m. (EDT)

Site: Paul Brown Stadium (65,515) · Cincinnati, OH


Announcers: Dick Enberg (play-by-play), Dan Fouts (color)

Previous Meeting:

In the teams’ last meeting on Oct. 11, the Bengals drove 80 yards and scored the game-winning TD with 22 seconds remaining, stunning the Ravens. It was the third straight win for the Bengals, and each of those victories came after trailing in the fourth quarter. Carson Palmer’s 20-yard pass to Andre Caldwell in the endzone sealed the victory for the Cincinnati. Cedric Benson rushed for 120 yards on 27 carries, becoming the first back in 40 games to gain 100 or more yards against the Ravens’ defense.

Keep Your Eye On:

CIN RB Cedric Benson. The fifth year back out of Texas has had resurgence in 2009, averaging 4.4 yards per carry (a career high) and scoring four TD’s (one shy of tying his career best of five). After 4 mediocre seasons in Chicago and another one last year in CIncy, Benson finally looks like the back everyone thought he would be when the Bears chose him with the fourth overall pick in the 2005 draft. The Bengals are 3-0 this year when he gains 100 or more yards

BAL RB Ray Rice. This guy can do everything. He is explosive and remarkably powerful for his size. He is averaging 124.9 total yards from scrimmage per game this season, 2nd most in the NFL. In Rice’s last two games, he has averaged 11.2 yards per reception.

Carson Palmer vs. Ravens Defense: Back on Oct 11, Ed Reed intercepted Palmer in the first quarter and returned it for a TD. The rest of the game, Palmer was held in check. But on the Bengals final drive; he looked calm and collected while the Ravens’ defense looked slopy undisciplined. Chris Carr was called for an illegal contact penalty; Palmer completed four passes and ran six yards for a first down on 4th and 1. Linebacker Ray Lewis was called for a personal foul when he delivered a hard hit Chad Ochocinco coming across the middle. And the final blow came on the 20-yard TD pass to Andre Caldwell right over the middle of the field. Getting pressure on Palmer early

Prediction: The Ravens showed last week that they despite their three consecutive losses, they are still capable of beating some of the best teams in the league. When this team doesn’t shoot themselves in the foot, they are a tough bunch to beat. The Bengals, however, are having a great season. They knocked off the Super Bowl champs, and came into Baltimore with confidence and walked out with a win. When their offensive machine is rolling, it is very difficult to stop. The difference in this one will be that Baltimore is more hungry for a win here than Cincinnati. RAVENS 34-21.


NFL Week 6 Game Preview: Baltimore Ravens (3-2) at Minnesota Vikings (5-0)


Game Info:

Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. (EDT)

Site: Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (64,121) · Minneapolis, MN


Announcers: Greg Gumbel (play-by-play), Dan Dierdorf (color)

Fast Facts:

– The Ravens travel to Minnesota for the first time in their regular season history. The Vikings are the last NFL team Baltimore has yet to play on the road.

– QB Joe Flacco has thrown at least a TD pass in 8 consecutive road games.

-Since 2006, the Vikings have allowed a league best 73.2 rushing yards per game. The Ravens rank 2nd during that same span, giving up just 78.6 yards per game.

– The Vikings have given up just 4 turnovers on the season, the 2nd-lowest in the NFL.

Ravens Offense vs. Vikings Defense: The Ravens offense has sputtered in the past two games. After getting off to an explosive start, there has been a lack of balance between running and passing plays. Against the Bengals last week, they had a great deal of trouble developing any kind of rhythm, going 3-11 on 3rd downs. Joe Flacco and company need to get on the board early in this contest to have a chance to win. Establishing the run, or at least attempting to, will be crucial. Minnesota’s run defense consistently ranks among the league’s best. And at 311 and 317 pounds respectively, Kevin and Pat Williams are big reasons why (pardon the pun). Pat is a savvy 13 year veteran who can singlehandedly shut down an opponent’s running game. Former University of Maryland standout E.J. Henderson patrols the middle of the field at middle linebacker and has a tremendous nose for the ball. If the Ravens are going to gain significant chunks of yardage this Sunday, they are going to have to do it by going to the outside with Ray Rice and Willis McGahee. Le’Ron McClain had zero rushing attempts in week 4 and only two last week. I’m looking for him to get more involved in the ground game this week. Receiver Derrick Mason was shut out a week ago for just the second time in 69 games as a Raven. Look for him to bounce back in a big way. Flacco is going to have to be quick in getting rid of the football because defensive end Jared Allen is simply a beast. Left tackle Jared Gaither is scheduled to return from his neck injury and play this week. Keep an eye on how he handles Allen. Two weeks ago against the Packers, Allen registered 4.5 sacks, a career high.  He also forced a fumble, and recovered it.  And he sacked Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the end zone in the second half for a safety.

Vikings Offense vs. Ravens Defense: Adrian Peterson is widely regarded as the best back in the league today; some even say he has the potential to be one of the best of all time. He is fast, agile, powerful, and smart. He is the heartbeat of the Minnesota offense and limiting his production is priority number one for the Ravens defense. Don’t forget about former Raven Chester Taylor. He is averaging a little over four receptions a game, so expect him to get a few balls thrown his way in the flats. Baltimore is fresh off of giving up a 100-yard rusher in Cedric Benson. It will be interesting to see if they have a repeat performance of last week or if the front seven can hold their ground against this talented backfield. And at quarterback its good ole Brett Favre. Love him or hate him, he is back and he is good. He can still throw lasers all over the field with great precision. His completion percentage of 69.1 is a career high. And he has only thrown two interceptions while tossing nine touchdowns. His footwork is a little slower than it was in his prime, so if the pocket breaks down he’s very likely to be sacked. The Baltimore pass rush has to get to #4 early and often to give the secondary a chance to make some plays.

Prediction: I’d say it’s a stretch to call this a must win game for Baltimore. But they really do need a win here. Going into the bye week with a record of 4-2 is a heck of a lot better than going in losing three straight and being 3-3. The key to the game has to be the Ravens’ offense. You have to assume that the D is going to give up some big plays. With Peterson in the backfield, there’s a great chance of that happening. The offense has to be more balanced than they have been lately and Joe Flacco has to be the confident guy that efficiently won 2 road playoff games last year. All teams face adversity. Right now the ravens are facing a ton of it. They a sour taste in their mouth after losing last week at home with first place in the division on the line. They have the talent and the experience necessary to win this game and I say they do. RAVENS 31 – VIKINGS 26


Week 5 Game Preview: Cincinnati Bengals (3-1) at Baltimore Ravens (3-1)


Game Info:

Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. (EDT)

Site: M&T Bank Stadium (71.008) · Baltimore, MD


Announcers: Gus Johnson (play-by-play), Steve Tasker (color)

Fast Facts:

-33.3 percent (14/42) of Baltimore’s offensive drives have ended in touchdowns this season — the highest percentage of any team in the league.

-Cincinnati and Baltimore are tied with three other teams for the league lead in red zone TD percentage at 66.7%. The Ravens have 12 TD’s in 18 red zone trips, while the Bengals have scored 8 TD’s in 12 red zone visits.

-Since 2003, when Marvin Lewis took over as Bengals head coach, the Ravens and Bengals defenses rank 1-2 in the NFL in takeaways. The Ravens lead with 205, and the Bengals are second at 198.

-Cincinnati has allowed a running back to gain at least 93 yards in back to back games.

-The Ravens have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 39 consecutive regular season games.

Ravens Offense vs. Bengals Defense: After suffering a neck injury last week against the Patriots, it is unlikely that left tackle Jared Gaither will play this Sunday. If that is the case, Michael Oher will switch over from the right side over to the left as he did last week. He will have his hands full though, going up against defensive end Antwan Odom. Odom is tied for first in the league with eight sacks this season. Of Baltimore’s 66 offensive plays last week, only 17 of them were running plays. They will need more balance if they want to keep the Bengals D in check. Joe Flacco and his receivers can only do so much when the opposing defense knows what you are going to do. Le’Ron McClain had zero carries in Week 4. Look for him to get a little more involved this week. Willis McGahee has been a touchdown machine. He scored in his sixth straight game last Sunday and now has nine TDs (7 rush, 2 rec) since Week 16 of 2008, the most of any NFL player during that span.

Bengals Offense vs. Ravens Defense: Quarterback Carson Palmer is off to a mediocre start, with a 75.2 QB rating, which ranks 24th in the league. He has six TD passes but has also thrown five interceptions. Running Back Cedric Benson ranks third in the AFC and is tied for fourth in the league with 367 rushing yards. He is averaging 4.4 yards per carry and has two touchdowns. Chad Ochocinco is the team’s leading receiver with 17 catches, a 15.2-yard average and three touchdowns. The story with Baltimore’s defense this year has been their vulnerability through the air. The run defense is as good as it’s ever been, holding opponents to an average of 59.5 yards a game, tops in the NFL.

Prediction: The Bengals are a good football team. If it weren’t for a miracle ending to their week 1 game against Denver, they would be 4-0. They squeaked out an overtime win over the lowly Browns last week, but have also come back after trailing double digits to the world champion Steelers. I wouldn’t be shocked if this turns out to be a close game late. But I just don’t see them finishing the job. The Ravens are a great football team at home. I don’t see them losing, especially with first place in the division on the line. RAVENS 30 – BENGALS 21.


Week 4 Game Preview: Baltimore Ravens (3-0) at New England Patriots (2-1)


Game Info:

Kickoff: 1:05 p.m. (EDT)

Site: Gillette Stadium (68,756) • Foxborough, MA


Announcers: Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Phil Simms (color)

Fast Facts:

– The Patriots own the NFL’s best home record (55-19) since 2000, 1 game better than the Ravens (54-20).

– Baltimore has never beaten New England in four tries, including two losses at Foxborough by a combined score of 44-6.

– In the Ravens’ last 7 regular season road games, QB Joe Flacco has produced a 101.1 QB rating, the best figure in the NFL. In those contests, he has thrown for 11 TDs and just 3 INTs.

– The Ravens’ defense has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 38 straight regular season games. That is the NFL’s longest current streak.

Ravens Offense vs. Patriots Defense: The Patriots will once again be without Jerod Mayo, their extremely talented young linebacker. Mayo, who was named the 2008 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, sprained his MCL in the Patriots’ season opener. He is slated to return sometime before the end of this season. But not having him in the middle on Sunday is something the Ravens have to take advantage of by getting the ball to Todd Heap early and often. Baltimore’s Matt Birk did a stellar job last week of blocking big Shaun Rogers of the Browns. He faces another tough task this week in going against nose tackle Vince Wilfork. Wilfork reminds me a lot of the Ravens’ Kelly Gregg in that he has a motor that never stops and can give the offensive line fits. He will find his way into the backfield several times per game. Don’t expect Joe Flacco and Co. to put up the kind of numbers we’ve seen in the first 3 weeks. Taking care of the ball will be a priority as always. RB Willis McGahee leads the NFL with six touchdowns. He and Ray Rice have to establish the running game as a threat early in the game.

Patriots Offense vs. Ravens Defense: Where do I begin? QB Tom Brady is arguably the best quarterback of his era. Winning 3 Super Bowls in 4 years, he is the epitome of what you look for in a winning quarterback. He has a great arm and he can dissect opposing defenses. He has a terrific sense of the pass rush and always seems to get rid of the ball right before the pressure gets to him. However Brady’s accuracy has taken a dip so far in 2009. Since returning from knee surgery, Brady hasn’t looked as accurate as he has been is years past. His 79.9 QB Rating is well below his career average of 92.4. Baltimore will use their variety of disguised blitzes to try and disrupt his rhythm. Keep in mind it was only 2 weeks ago that Rex Ryan’s Jets gave Brady and the Pats’ offense fits with their defensive scheme. The Ravens are running the essentially the same defense as the Jets are. Look for that to be a factor. Wide receiver Randy Moss is tall, strong, and physical. He knows how to get into the best position possible to make all the big catches. But like Brady, Moss’s numbers could be better. He has 226 yards receiving, which is fifth best in the league. But he also has zero TD catches. What concerns me is how much trouble the Ravens’ secondary had defending Vincent Jackson and the rest of the Chargers receiving corps in Week 2. At 6-foot-4, Moss has a clear height advantage over the Ravens’ Fabian Washington and Dominique Foxworth (each 5-foot-11). I believe Moss is due for breakout game and will frustrate the Ravens’ corners all afternoon. The always dangerous Wes Welker is questionable for Sunday’s game with a knee injury. He is likely to be a game-time decision.

Prediction: The Ravens are very capable of winning this game. They proved last year against Tennessee in the playoffs that they could go on the road into a hostile environment and beat a tough team. It’s all about execution though. They need to play their game and limit the number of big plays they give up on defense. Flacco has been great on the road throughout his young career, but once again he faces a tough test on the road. Can he handle it? I see New England jumping out to an early lead and Baltimore playing catch-up the whole time. The Ravens defense will be on their game. But being aggressive will lead to a big play or two by Moss. It will be close, but this one goes to the Pats. PATRIOTS 26 – RAVENS 17.


Week 3 Game Preview: Cleveland Browns (0-2) at Baltimore Ravens (2-0)


Game Info:

Kickoff: 1:05 p.m. (EDT)

Site: M&T Bank Stadium (71.008) · Baltimore, MD


Announcers: Gus Johnson (play-by-play), Steve Tasker (color)

Fast Facts:

-Since 1999, Baltimore has allowed 18 100-yard rushing games. The Browns have allowed 18 100-yard rushing games over their last 32 games.

-Since 2003, the Ravens’ defense at home has ranked first in the NFL in yards allowed, points allowed and interceptions.

-Ravens wideout Derrick Mason needs just 3 catches to put him at 800 for his career, a mark which only 22 players in NFL history have hit.

– The Ravens have had at least 1 sack in 14 straight games.

-Free safety Ed Reed has 7 career interceptions against the Browns and has returned 3 of them for scores.

– The Browns are 3-7 in their previous 10 visits to M&T Bank Stadium. The last time Cleveland won in Baltimore was in 2007 in a game that will forever be remembered for Phil Dawson’s wild field goal at the end of regulation.

Josh Cribbs: I have never made a section in a game preview for just one player. But Browns return specialist Josh Cribbs is good enough to warrant his own preview. Consider these stats: From 2005-09, Cribbs is ranks first in the league in kickoff returns for touchdowns (five), and second in combined return touchdowns (seven). He also ranks second in kickoff return yards (5,707 for a 26.2-yard average). During last season’s Ravens-Browns game in Cleveland, Cribbs ran a kickoff back 92-yards for a score, and totaled 237 kickoff return yards and 41 yards on punts. He returned another kick for a TD in week 1 against Minnesota. The Ravens showed last week that their special team coverage has some holes as the Chargers’ Darren Sproles averaged 32 yards per kickoff return including a 52 yard burst that gave his team great field position.

Ravens Offense vs. Browns Defense: Last week the Ravens showed that their 501 yard outburst in week one was no fluke. In fact, Baltimore now ranks first in the AFC in yards per game (406) and points per game (34.5). On paper, this is as big of a mismatch as you will ever see. Defensively, the Browns rank all the way on the other end of the spectrum. Cleveland has given up an average of 30.5 points in their first two games. The offensive line has been VERY impressive so far in this young season. Jared Gaither held Shawne Merriman to one tackle and zero sacks last week. Center Matt Birk has the tough task of blocking Browns all-pro nose tackle Shaun Rogers. Rodgers is strong and takes up lots of space. He can disrupt the running game by closing holes before they even open. Said Birk, “He’s a great player. He combines power and quickness, and that’s rare in a big guy like that to be so explosive. That’s why he’s been a good player for so long in this league. He’s just a big, powerful guy. All you can do is get in there and try to battle.” The three headed monster of Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, and Le’Ron McClain will once again give Baltimore fresh legs the throughout the game at the running back position. Joe Flacco has been solid in 2009, but has thrown a pick in each game. It will be interesting to see if he can avoid throwing one for the third straight week.

Browns Offense vs. Ravens Defense: Cleveland is having a great deal of trouble scoring points on the offensive side of the ball. They have scored just one offensive TD in their past 33 quarters! That is a stretch of just over 8 full games. Former Raven Jamal Lewis is questionable with a hamstring injury. If Lewis is unable to start, Jerome Harrison and fullback Lawrence Vickers (three combined rushing attempts in ’09) will get the bulk of the carries. As if going up against the NFL’s #1 rush defense wasn’t hard enough, doing so without your starting halfback makes it that much harder. Receiver Braylon Edwards has been very quiet through two games so far this year, hauling in only 7 receptions. But he could be due for a big game, especially against a Baltimore secondary that got lit up last Sunday in San Diego. But Edwards having a succesful day is largely dependent on whether or not quarterback Brady Quinn can play smart football and avoid costly turnovers. Since his debut last November, Quinn has started 5 games, thrown 3 touchdown passes, 4 interceptions, and won just one game. He will have to battle a tough pass rush from Ray Lewis and company as well as a loud M&T Bank Stadium crowd.

Prediction: These two teams are going in two very different directions. Baltimore is thinking Super Bowl and Cleveland is trying to establish a solid foundation with Quinn at quarterback and Eric Mangini as head coach. Take a look at the Baltimore Sun’s
staff predictions for this game. They all pretty much agree that this will be a lopsided affair. I disagree. The Browns have talent and will put up a good fight on Sunday. I would be shocked if they were to escape town with a win, but this will be much closer than a lot of people think. RAVENS 24 – BROWNS 13.


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