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Nov 27

Chargers vs. Ravens: Complete Week 13 Preview for Baltimore

The Baltimore Ravens look to continue their push for the postseason when they host the San Diego Chargers in Week 13. Both teams enter this game at 7-4 along with three other teams that are fighting for two wild-card spots.

As of now, the 7-4 Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, Chargers and Ravens are tied for the No. 5 and 6 seeds in the AFC.

Needless to say, a lot has yet to be decided in terms of who will make it to the playoffs, but Baltimore has the advantage of controlling its own destiny. 

The Ravens host the Chargers this week, as well as the Cleveland Browns in their home finale. If they can win out, they’ll have beaten the Browns and Chargers in the process to jump ahead of them. 

The Steelers and Chiefs face each other in Week 16, which means one of them is assured to lose at least one more time. That means as long as Baltimore wins out, it’s guaranteed to make the playoffs.

That’s asking a lot, given the Ravens would have to win their final five games to guarantee a playoff spot. That said, not many teams at this point can control their own destiny in terms of making the playoffs. 

The Ravens are one of those lucky few, but for now, they must put all of their focus on San Diego. Here is my preview for this Week 13 matchup. 

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Nov 27

Coach Whisenhunt’s Thursday Practice Report

TITANS HEAD COACH KEN WHISENHUNT (on what he is thankful for) I’m thankful to be in this city, working for this team. I’m thankful for the guys that we have. It’s been tough from a record perspecti…

Nov 27

Mettenberger, Former LSU Teammates Enjoying NFL Success

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Zach Mettenberger has begun to turn the heads of football fans in Tennessee and around the country. Two weeks ago against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mettenberger set a Monday Nigh…

Nov 27

Ravens fantasy outlook vs. the Chargers

Here’s this week’s fantasy outlook for Ravens players.

Start ‘em

RB Justin Forsett: If you’re having reservations about starting Forsett, just re-watch the Ravens-Saints game.

K Justin Tucker: Mr. Automatic should strike again.

Ravens D/ST: Earlier in the season, the Chargers‘ offense was rolling. Over the past three games, the Chargers have sputtered. I don’t expect Ryan Mathews to have a big game either.

Sit ‘em

TE Owen Daniels: He’s the definition of boom or bust this week. He’s probably better left on a bench not that bye weeks are over.

QB Joe Flacco: With byes over, you likely have a quality fantasy starter to roll with. (This is not to be confused with actual football ability on the field.)

Use caution

WRs Torrey Smith and Steve Smith: The Smiths will likely be targeted quite a bit in this game. But the Chargers are third against the pass. If you have better options, go with them. But either of these receivers could be good for 50-plus yards and a touchdown.

Sleepers

No true sleepers this week.


Nov 27

Sam Koch is having a resurgent season

The punting game’s revitalized player.

Last year, the brightest spot for the Ravens was Justin Tucker. People remember him “single-legedly” kicking the lions to defeat, and eventually Tucker would claim team MVP for the Ravens by the local media. But just like the rest of the Baltimore squad after last year’s rough outing, the punt team has been another bright spot this year.

It’s clear this season has been different, and with Sam Koch’s 73-yard booming punt on Monday Night Football, the special teams unit is completely owning their positions.

We obviously don’t know what the troubles were last season with Koch. Maybe he was injured, or maybe with such a lackluster offense in 2013 his leg was worn out from punting on our consistent three-and-outs. Maybe it was just a bad-luck season. All we know is, Koch’s cannon leg can fire football rockets deep into the sky, and the coverage team has helped secure positioning when Sam lets the ball come back from the heavens to the gridiron.

We all saw that blast 73 yards downfield, and Jon Gruden replaying just to show what kind of punt he let loose. Obviously with me being a part of the 8th and 9th grade punt team back in middle school, I can claim myself to be a professional punt observer, but I’ll just re-explain what Jon Gruden mentioned, and also explain the slight differences between the punt Koch used against the usual punting style.

A usual punt involves that the football is tilted slightly and parallel to the ground. Then letting it fall while kicking with a diagonal angle to create the spiraling effect that of a QB pass. Koch, on this punt, drops the ball nose first which allows the kick to fly end over end, and also with enough practice (which I assume Koch has had) can become the most accurate, and farthest distancing punt style. There is a 10-second clip of somebody recording the punt on their television which I’ll link here. Just know the recording isn’t “magnificent” and was found scrounging around online. Not quite as exciting as Odell Beckham Jr. and his filthy catch against Dallas, but still something worth a look.

With the punt game strong again, and the kicking game to the point I don’t sweat if it’s under 50 yards, the Ravens’ leg unit is something the Ravens are sitting on top of, possibly first in the NFL.

Nov 27

Ravens players that stood out this past Monday

Here’s the top performers from Sunday’s win vs. the Saints.

Justin Forsett

Forsett ran for 182 yards and two touchdowns off of 22 carries, which played a huge role in the Ravens being 9-of-12 on third down and having the ball for 30:15 vs. the Saints 29:45, keeping Drew Brees off the field.

Steve Smith

Steve Smith had four receptions for 89 yards and an incredible touchdown.

Torrey Smith

Torrey lSmith ed the team in receptions with five catches for 98 yards and almost all of them were good for 1st downs to extend drives.

Haloti Ngata

Ngata was a big part of the Ravens dominant run defense on Monday, especially when he took down Mark Ingram for a loss of two on 4th-and-goal from the Ravens 1.

Will Hill

Hill limited Graham to four catches for 46 yards and two touchdowns, the last one came when the Ravens had all but sealed the victory. Also Hill had a big pick-six to turn the tide of the game.

Nov 27

Chargers vs. Ravens: Breaking Down Baltimore’s Game Plan

The Baltimore Ravens have a tough stretch of games to end the regular season, and it starts this week with the San Diego Chargers coming to town. Both teams enter the week with 7-4 records and firmly in the playoff discussion.

As it turns out though, it’s the Chargers who currently hold the AFC’s No. 6 seed and final wild-card spot, while the Ravens sit at No. 7 and currently out of the playoff picture, per ESPN’s playoff standings

Needless to say, if Baltimore wants to make it to the playoffs, it needs to win this game at home. With only five games left, three of which are at home, if the Ravens can just defend their turf and win out at home, they’ll get to 10 wins and probably make it to the playoffs. 

That starts this week with San Diego, who enters this game with a team that relies more on its defense than it does its offense. The Chargers currently rank 20th in total offense and ninth in total defense

Beating the Chargers involves a pretty simply formula, and it begins with winning the turnover battle. The Chargers offense is easy to stop if you don’t turn the ball over and give them a short field to work with.

In fact, San Diego is 0-3 this year when it loses the turnover battle. The only game in which San Diego won the turnover battle and still lost came in Week 1. That was an 18-17 loss at Arizona, who currently is tied for the NFL‘s best record at 9-2. 

As it stands, the Chargers are 5-1 when they win the turnover battle and 2-0 when they tie it. If Baltimore can just avoid turning the ball over while forcing the Chargers into a few, that will greatly increase its odds of winning this one. 

The next key to winning is to run the ball effectively. The Ravens have done that very well this year, ranking sixth in rushing offense. That’s how they won at New Orleans in Week 12. 

That game saw Baltimore run for 215 yards and escape with a 34-27 win. That kept the Saints offense off the field while also allowing Baltimore’s defense to stay rested and energized to stop the Saints. 

It just so happens that the Chargers defense, while ranking ninth in total defense, ranks 22nd in yards per rush (4.4). When teams run the ball on San Diego, they often have success, and Baltimore should do the same Sunday to beat the Chargers.

It doesn’t help that the Chargers run defense has struggled more as the season has wore on. Per ESPN’s Eric D. Williams and Jamison Hensley, the Chargers are giving up an average of 120.6 yards per game. So long as Baltimore is running the ball, it should be moving the ball effectively on San Diego. 

The final key to beating the Chargers is to pressure quarterback Philip Rivers. When Rivers is given time in the pocket, he’s as deadly of a QB as there is in the NFL.

However, when you get pressure in his face enough, he makes bad decisions. In San Diego’s three losses this year, Rivers has been sacked seven times, fumbled three times and thrown seven interceptions. 

Baltimore has done a great job of pressuring QBs, as evidenced by its 29 sacks, the eighth most in the NFL. In its Week 12 win at New Orleans, Baltimore sacked Drew Brees four times and forced him to throw a key pick-six in the third quarter that gave Baltimore the lead for good. 

In summary, the game plan for Baltimore is pretty cut-and-dried: pressure the passer, run the ball and don’t turn the ball over. Do those three things, and the Ravens will beat the Chargers and pass them in the playoff standings. 

Statistics in this article not otherwise cited are courtesy of ESPN

Read more Baltimore Ravens news on BleacherReport.com

Nov 27

NFL picks Week 13: Predicting this week’s games

Jason Butt and Daniel Park take a crack at predicting this week’s slate of games.

Daniel Park: Great pick last week Jason, the Seahawks proved me wrong.

Jason Butt: Thanks, you too on the Chargers‘ selection. I pictured the Rams‘ defensive line raising hell for San Diego, breaking their offense’s rhythm and imagined them sacking Phillip Rivers more than tw. … Daniel?

Park: zzzZZZzzzZZZzzzZZZzzz.

Butt: For the year Park is 111-63-1. I’m 110-64-1. There’s no way on earth I’m buying this kid a Chipotle meal at the end of all this.

Park: zzzZZZzzzZZZzzzZZZzzz

Butt: WAKE UP!!!

Bears at Lions

Park’s take: zzz … Jay. …Cutler. … zzz … isn’t elite. …

Park’s pick: Lions 34, Bears 23

Butt’s take: Brian de la Puente was placed on injured reserve Wednesday. Yeah, good luck Bears. Your line is in shambles and Detroit is angry after being embarrassed by New England.

Butt’s pick: Lions 31, Bears 17

Eagles at Cowboys

Park’s take: This is how our NFL schedule-makers shut the bank down. They knew while piecing the future together that this heavyweight title match had to take place on Thanksgiving. Winner takes lead of the NFC East division until they meet again two weeks later.

Park’s pick: Eagles 28, Cowboys 27

Butt’s take: This has the makings of being one of the best games of the season. Expect a high-scoring affair between two top offenses. Tony Romo comes through in the fourth quarter.

Butt’s pick: Cowboys 31, Eagles 30

Seahawks at 49ers

Park’s take: Simple pickings. The 49ers know exactly how to snap the Seahawks in half after watching multiple reruns of the Seahawks-Cardinals tape.

Park’s pick: 49ers 31, Seahawks 28

Butt’s take: This game has defensive struggle written all over it. They know each other well and can defend the run. With the game at San Francisco, I’m taking the Niners.

Butt’s pick: 49ers 21, Seahawks 17

Browns at Bills

Park’s take: Hmm… I’m calling the upset. Josh Gordon’s return isn’t as healthy for the team as it appears.

Park’s pick: Bills 31, Browns 19

Butt’s take: Buffalo’s a strong defensive team and Brian Hoyer was ineffective for 59 minutes against the Falcons – repeat, the Falcons. Cleveland needed luck to win last week.

Butt’s pick: Bills 24, Browns 21

Titans at Texans

Park’s take: Is the biggest headline for this game Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick faces former team, should give Texans upper-hand?

Park’s pick: Texans 20, Titans 17

Butt’s take: Ryan Mallett will have to wait until next season to prove he’s an NFL quarterback. Not many people outside of Houston and Nashville will tune into this one.

Butt’s pick: Texans 17, Titans 16

Redskins at Colts

Park’s take: The NFL schedule-makers earn bonus points again, this time for trying to set up what would’ve one been of the marquee matchups of 2014. (Didn’t work out according to plan because they had forgotten Robert Griffin III isn’t a real quarterback.) I’m sorry, I worked for the Redskins Hall of Fame team store at FedEx Stadium in 2013 and nearly cried every time fans walk out with an overpriced RG3 jersey purchase.

Park’s pick: Colts 400, Redskins 19

Butt’s take: Colt McCoy is responsible for two of Washington’s three wins. He won’t be responsible for three after Sunday.

Butt’s pick: Colts 40 (not 400), Redskins 10

Giants at Jaguars

Park’s take: Everyone in the world awaits the next one-handed catch made by Odell Beckham Jr.

Park’s pick: Giants 34, Jags 14

Butt’s take: Pick up the Giants defense in fantasy football if you can. They’re not a good defense. But they’re playing Jacksonville.

Butt’s pick: Giants 31, Jaguars 14

Panthers at Vikings

Park’s take: Finally, I could say this without second-guessing myself.

Park’s pick: Vikings 27, Panthers 21

Butt’s take: The NFC South is a finesse division. Jerick McKinnon has incredible potential but has yet to bust out for a big game since playing the Falcons, tied for first place in the NFC South at 4-7. McKinnon, get ready for a big game.

Butt’s pick: Vikings 31, Panthers 20

Saints at Steelers

Park’s take: The Steelers know the importance of nabbing their eighth win in a division of seven-win teams. A loss doesn’t hurt the Saints as much- they’ll only slide into second or third in a sloppy division (depending how the Panthers and Falcons do). What happens when you’ve nothing to lose?

Park’s pick: Saints 31, Steelers 28

Butt’s take: These Saints are not the same Saints you’re used to. The Ravens proved that. Six other teams have too.

Butt’s pick: Steelers 27, Saints 21

Raiders at Rams

Park’s take: The Rams are overdue for a blowout victory.

Park’s pick: Rams 45, Raiders 18

Butt’s take: Can the Raiders extend their winning streak to two games? Hahaha, I crack myself up sometimes.

Butt’s pick: Rams 27, Raiders 16

Bengals at Buccaneers

Park’s take: The perplexing NFC South division isn’t a batch of terrible teams — actually, none of them are true underdogs. This game has too many angles to choose from. I’ll be bummed if the Bengals hand the Bucs their third win of the season.

Park’s pick: Bengals 27, Bucs 10

Butt’s take: Thing is, when the Bucs offense is clicking, it can be dangerous. But this defense isn’t good and the Bengals are back to playing solid football.

Butt’s pick: Bengals 24, Bucs 14

Cardinals at Falcons

Park’s take: Sorry, head coach Mike Smith doesn’t get my vote ever again, not after his questionable play calling this season.

Park’s pick: Cardinals 28, Falcons 17

Butt’s take: Andre Ellington has had some frustrating games against quality opponents. That changes this week as he’ll get to run wild against one of the worst defenses in the NFL.

Butt’s pick: Cardinals 34, Falcons 24

Patriots at Packers

Park’s take: One of the best games of the season, yes, the Patriots will Belichick-mate the Packers at Lambeau. Yowza.

Park’s pick: Patriots 34, Packers 31

Butt’s take: These are the two best teams at the moment. I’ll go Packers for the sake of disagreeing with Park.

Butt’s pick: Packers 34, Patriots 31

Broncos at Chiefs

Park’s take: The Broncos will play 76,416 fans on Sunday. No Eric Berry on the field, but his strong presence will be felt in the hearts of his teammates. #WinForEric

Park’s pick: Chiefs 42, Broncos 23

Butt’s take: Park, you’re making me feel bad for picking the Broncos. I do wish Eric Berry a full and speedy recovery though so that he can hurry back and continue his career.

Butt’s pick: Broncos 34, Chiefs 23

Dolphins at Jets

Park’s take: The Jets fuel tank is on empty again now that Michael Vick will not start next Monday. The Dolphins’ loss to Denver may have cost them a playoff spot.

Park’s pick: Dolphins 21, Jets 12

Butt’s take: J-E-T-S STINK! STINK! STINK!

Butt’s pick: Dolphins 31, Jets 10


Nov 27

Thanksgiving Ravens links: Chargers game has meaning for Steve Smith, short week presents challenge

Read what others are writing about the Baltimore Ravens.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Here are today’s links to read before enjoying some turkey and watching the other NFL games with your family:

Chargers game has meaning for Steve Smith

Ravens receiver Steve Smith has some close ties with members of the Chargers‘ staff, most notably head coach Mike McCoy, writes The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec.

Five stats that stand out

The Baltimore Sun’s Jon Meoli writes about five stats that stand out leading into the Ravens’ home game against the Chargers this Sunday.

Short week presents challenge for Ravens

ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley writes that the Ravens are on a short week following Monday night’s win over New Orleans, which could present some challenges this week.

Torrey Smith hopes Ray Rice gets another chance

With a ruling on Ray Rice’s reinstatement nearing, Ravens receiver Torrey Smith hopes his former teammate gets another chance in the NFL in the future, writes CSNBaltimore.com’s Clifton Brown.

Ravens-Chargers has playoff implications

BaltimoreRavens.com’s Garrett Downing writes that with both Baltimore and San Diego at 7-4, this week’s game has major AFC playoff implications.

Nov 26

Know Your Opponent: Houston Texans (Week 13)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans and Texans meet for the final time this season Sunday at Houston’s NRG Stadium. The Texans come into the game with a 5-6 record, two games behind the first place Colt…

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