Third and Long: Shock and Awe

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It had to happen sooner or later.

Justin Tucker missed a kick, an extra point at that, one that thwarted the Ravens late comeback and delivered a crushing home loss against the Saints. Even though the loss can be pinned on Tucker, I was more concerned with the Ravens blowing a ten point lead in the fourth quarter at home. The margin for error is slim in the NFL and with the AFC North race getting tighter each week it would have been nice to gain a bit of breathing room.

So the Ravens head to the road (4th road trip in 5 games) with Carolina on their mind this week.

Alright ramblers, let’s get ramblin’.

  1. Run to You – The Ravens rank 31st in the NFL in yards per carry running the football. The only team worse than them is Arizona. Ugh. Alex Collins is one of the reasons why and was quite a contrast compared to Alvin Kamara last Sunday. Collins is full of wasted movement and rarely hits the hole hard in a straight line. It’s clear the Ravens made the right call in not looking to extend him after a solid campaign last year. But can anything be done now to at least improve things over the second half? I don’t think so. The trade deadline is looming and while I’ve read several ideas about possible targets I don’t see any of them helping address the putrid run game. So the Ravens will continue to rely on Flacco’s arm and the revamped receivers to put points on the board.
  2. Playoffs or Bust – The AFC North remains very tight and currently may be the most competitive division in the league. I don’t think it’s a wild stretch to consider that at least two teams the division will make the playoffs. Will one of them be Baltimore? I’m still not totally sure but here’s some things to think about that might make you feel better about the Ravens’ chances. First they have to take care of division business with all three games at home. If so that gives them seven wins. That means they only need to go .500 (3-3) with the remaining games to get to 10, which should be enough. That feels doable for this team that does seem to be much improved from last year’s model. I wonder though if the Ravens miss the playoffs again is John Harbaugh out of a job?
  3. Players to watch – Last Week (Brown 7/134/ 1 TD, Mosley 16 Total Tackles) On offense the Ravens will continue to chuck it and I like Willie Snead IV to get some action this week. On defense the Ravens face a team that loves to pound the football which means the tag team of Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce will be important up front in slowing things down.

Legend of the Game

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Steve Smith Sr.

Played for the Ravens (2014-2016)

Smith played 16 seasons in the NFL and was drafted out of Utah by the Panthers in the third round in the 2001 draft. Smitty was a Five-time Pro Bowler and Three-time All Pro and was one of the most productive receivers of his era. Even though the bulk of career was spent in Carolina Smith will always be a fan favorite in Baltimore. It’s hard not to like his gritty style and competitive fire that he brought to his position every week. My favorite memory is when he first signed with the Ravens in 2014. He had the date with his former team circled in red and announced to everyone that they should, “put your goggles on cause there’s going to be blood and guts everywhere.” He ended the day with 7 catches for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Game Day Playlist – Song of the Week

Any proper soundtrack of NFL football must have Sam Spence on it. If you have no idea who I’m talking about just google him and then listen to all his songs and dream of touchdowns and quarterback sacks. You’re welcome.

Cousin Justin’s Betting Parlor

The win train keeps on rolling for me as the Rams absolutely smashed the 49ers last week. I usually avoid division games at all costs but this one was a lay-up as undefeated L.A. is just too much right now.

So who do I pick this week?

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Yeah, it’s time. I just couldn’t get comfortable with any other possibilities out there. The Hoodie will torch these Bills and leave them for dead.

Game-Time Snack of the Week

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Game Day Chili

The weather is starting to turn and that means it’s finally time to warm up with a bowl of chili.

RECIPE

Happy Football everyone! Go Ravens.

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