Third and Long: Winning Convincingly

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The Baltimore Ravens dominated their divisional game against the Cincinnati Bengals last weekend – at least statistically. The final score (23-17)  didn’t  show it but the game was never really in doubt. Of course that didn’t keep Twitter from voicing its displeasure at the Ravens efforts, even though they won.

So how many points do you need to win by to feel satisfied?  Sure the Bengals are defeated this season (0-6) but they are a professional NFL team and a divisional opponent. You don’t just show up and get handed success week to week. However, perception is reality especially when it comes to predicting professional football.

Baltimore is 4-2, atop the AFC North and a full two games ahead of the division. Right now things look good as they head into the Bye after this week’s road game in Seattle. The concern by most is that the Ravens haven’t really beaten anyone. That is, a team that many would consider a playoff contender.

It’s a fair point.

So this week the Ravens have a chance to convince a few more people of their legitimacy as contenders if they can knock off the Seahawks who are (5-1). Interesting fact though.

None of those teams they beat had a winning record either.

  1.  Marcus Peters– EDC continues to prove that he is a GM that won’t sit back and wait. If you don’t produce you get the axe. (see Tim Williams) If you can’t step up, then you must step out. (see Kenny Young) Young was a promising rookie entering his sophomore season in Baltimore and the team had hopes that he would help fill the void left by the departing C.J. Mosley. It didn’t go well. In fact it went so poorly that Young was a healthy scratch the past two weeks. So the Ravens ship out Young and a 5th round pick to the Rams (Thanks Kaare) to add a potentially huge talent to the secondary in Marcus Peters. The enigmatic two-time former Pro Bowler has serious talent and it didn’t take mortgaging the future to get him in the fold. Sure he’s in a contract year so treat this pickup as a prolonged interview. The risk is minimal at this point.
  2.  Reeling in Russell– Some may not have understood why Seattle made Wilson the league’s highest player with his latest contract extension. After six weeks there should be little doubt that they made the correct decision. Wilson has been near flawless under center making plays with his arm and his legs. He’s incredibly tough to beat at home, he’s 51-14 since being drafted in 2012. Meanwhile the Ravens pass defense, devoid of a pass rush has yielded 270 passing yards a game (25th in the league) The best defense for Baltimore my be a good offense and since they have a true X factor in Lamar Jackson running their unit if he has a big day he could be the best weapon to leave Century Link Field with a victory.
  3. Who to Watch– On offense Jackson is THE key. He’s been using his legs more over the past few weeks but he’ll need to push the ball downfield where Seattle has been vulnerable to be most effective. On defense Peters seems to be a logical candidate as he’ll be pressed into duty right away. Will he be able to make an immediate impact?

Legend of the Game

Matt Stover

Matt Stover

Kicker

Years as a Raven (1996-2008)

Stover was drafted by the New York Giants in the 12th Round of the 1990 NFL draft. He was on injured reserve the entire season as the Giants won the Super Bowl that year. Stover then signed with the Cleveland Brown in 1991 and spent five seasons as a Brown before relocating with the team to Baltimore in 1996. Stove-Top became a fan favorite because he remained consistent even though the offense would struggle at times. In 2000, the unit didn’t score a touchdown for five consecutive weeks but Stover was always there to put points on the board behind a stellar defense. In that season the Ravens won a Super Bowl and Stover received numerous accolades; Pro Bowl, First team All-Pro, and the Golden Toe Award. He continued to hit big Field Goals during his Baltimore career, including a 43-yd Field Goal to beat the Titans in the 2008 AFC Divisional Round. Stover finished with the Indianapolis Colts (hard to type) and was the oldest player (42) to appear in a Super Bowl. He officially announced his retirement in 2011 as a Raven. He completed his career as the NFL’s sixth all-time leading scorer (2,004), Most Consecutive PATs (469), and Most Consecutive games with a Field Goal (38).

Game Time Song of the Week

I’ve been running hot
You got me ticking going to blow my top
If you start me up
If you start me up I’ll never stop
Never stop, never stop, never stop

There were some strange music videos in the early days of MTV. This one always fascinated me because it’s just a legendary rock band dancing around lip synching with a few cameras. Drummer Charlie Watts can’t stop laughing at the absurdity of it all.

Game Time Snack of the Week

If you have a sweet tooth and even remotely like chocolate this should do the trick.

Happy Football everyone! Go Ravens!

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