Third and Long Threat Level Midnight

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The Ravens traveled to Arrowhead last week and showed that they weren’t quite ready to join the AFC Elite.

A late rally closed the gap against Kansas City but ultimately Baltimore was defeated 33-28. Reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes had a field day picking open receivers throwing for 374 yards and 3 touchdowns and the Chiefs ground game was potent gashing the blackbirds for 142. Give the Ravens some credit that this one didn’t become a blowout as they clawed back to cover the spread.

This week begins a consecutive threesome of division opponents as they welcome Cleveland in Week Four. If Baltimore can take care of North business they could make this championship chase a no-contest but familiar opponents can lead to unpredictable finishes.

Is this week a must win?

Aren’t they all?

  1.  Secondary a Primary Concern– The Ravens secondary unit was considered the strength of the defense this season. Throw a few injuries into the mix and things are looking bleak. In the past two games the Ravens have given up 723 yards through the air with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. (Check the Google machine) They also have had the propensity to give up the big play – over and over again. (7 plays plus twenty yards or more in that span) Communication along the back end has to improve- NOW. It would also help if Baltimore could generate a consistent pass rush with out relying on the blitz. (no team does so more than the Ravens) The front seven has been able to hit the Quarterback but have been unable to get home for the sack. Matthew Judon has performed well in a contract year and Pernell McPhee looks like the player that was here years ago. Aside from those two there’s been little to crow about. If the Ravens figure out the pressure then it should help the coverage and no one wants to see Baker Mayfield get going after a slow first few weeks for him.
  2.  Analyze This – Analytics took the baseball world by storm years ago, finally it seems to be creeping into football. John Harbaugh had an aggressive game plan in order to beat the Chiefs. The Ravens went for it on fourth down multiple times (3 for 4) and went for two three times (0 for 3). Some of the decisions seemed like head scratchers at the time but after a few days the Head Coach was receiving praise for following the numbers. I’ll admit I don’t know nearly enough about the entire process and that is what it’s all about the process, not the results. I get the idea but I wonder how factors such as momentum, opponent, and a multitude of other things impact decisions.
  3.  Who to Watch – The Ravens offense continues to put up points and one of the unsung reasons is the play of the Offensive Line, particularly in the run game. Bradley Bozeman has settled into the Left Guard role while Marshal Yanda continues to play all-world. The Browns have a very solid front seven led by Myles Garrett. If Baltimore is to move to 3-1 and secure a hold on the division lead then they must win the battle of the trenches. On defense Matthew Judon has a sack in each of the past three games. The Ravens need that production to continue and keep Mayfield running for his life.

Legend of the Game

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Jermaine Lewis

Wide Receiver/Return Specialist

Years as a Raven (1996-2001)

Lewis was selected by the Ravens in the Fifth Round of the 1996 Draft. As a rookie he established himself as a return specialist. Over the span of his career in Baltimore he scored 23 touchdowns and made the Pro Bowl in 1996 and 2001 as a returner. In Super Bowl XXXV he had 152 all-purpose yards, including an 84-yard kick-off return for a touchdown that put the game out of reach. Lewis was plucked by Houston in the 2002 expansion draft but was released after one season. He finished his last two seasons in Jacksonville. Overall, he recorded 10,170 total all-purpose yards and scored 23 touchdowns (17 receiving, six punt returns). With the Ravens, he gained 8,001 all-purpose yards, which stood as a franchise record until surpassed by Jamal Lewis in 2006. His 3,282 punt return yards ranked him 7th on the NFL all-time list.

Game-Time Song of the Week

This one is for all those Ravens fans that will be in Lot B getting lubed up at 8 AM this morning.

Cousin Justin’s Betting Parlor – Survivor Pool

Let’s be honest betting against the Dolphins is a sound strategy this season. I’ve thought about just penciling in their opponents for the rest of the season but they can’t lose every game  – can they? I hope I haven’t overthought this one but I will not pick the Chargers this week.

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There are plenty of other teams that suck this year too. The Bucs are no exception.

Game-Time Snack of the Week

The garbage plate is a great way to fuel up for a long day of tailgating. There are a ton of options with this recipe and you vary it to suit your particular taste. Shout out to Blue Moon Café, great spot in Canton to eat breakfast.

Happy Football everyone. Go Ravens!

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