Monday, December 26, 2011

Are the Ravens for real?

Sunday will tell us a lot about the inconsistent AFC North leaders

For all intents and purposes the playoffs start on New Year’s Day 2012 in Cincinnati for the Ravens and in order for them to advance beyond the first round, given the team’s ongoing struggles on the road, John Harbaugh & Co. more than likely need a win at Paul Brown Stadium.

And that won’t be easy!

Consider the following in recent meets with the Bengals:

· The Ravens have lost 5 of their last 6 games in Cincinnati, the only win being a game started by QB Ryan Fitzpatrick who up to that point had only 1 career victory.

· Since 2005 the Ravens have averaged 14.5 points per game in Cincinnati while yielding 15.8 points per game. During those 5 road losses @ Cincinnati since ‘05 the Ravens have averaged just 10.6 points per game while yielding 18.4 points per game.

· Offensively the Ravens have averaged 299 yards per game in the Queen City since 2005. To put it in perspective, this average would currently rank 29th in the league.

· During their last two visits to Paul Brown Stadium the Ravens have scored a total of 17 points.

· Joe Flacco has a career QB rating in Cincinnati of 58.3 and 33.1 over his last 2 starts there.

When the Bengals visited M&T Bank Stadium earlier this year, a game won by the Ravens 31-24, the Bengals racked up 483 net yards of offense and that was without star rookie WR AJ Green. Oh, and let’s not forget a very favorable call overturning a Jermaine Gresham touchdown that probably would have forced overtime and who knows what else.

And now there’s the issue of mounting Ravens injuries and a struggling defense.

The Ravens are built to stop the run and force teams to become one dimensional. But during the last two games teams are averaging 131 yards on the ground and 4.2 yards per carry. That could influence defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano to deploy more resources to stop Cedric Benson and free up AJ Green, Jerome Simpson and Jermaine Gresham to see more one-on-one coverage. And let’s not forget that Simpson in 2 career games against the Ravens has averaged 10 catches for 137 yards. Jimmy Smith and Chris Carr might look very inviting to Andy Dalton.

The Bengals survival this season may rest on this game. The playoff implications are huge.

And as in any playoff game to win, teams have to bring their A game for 60 minutes.

Recent history suggests that the Ravens don’t do that in Cincinnati.

On Sunday we’ll find out if they will be contenders or pretenders in the 2012 postseason dance.


Jerry B said...

With few exceptions, the Ravens haven't brought their "A" game to any game this year! For a team as talent laden as they are, their inconsistent performance this year is inexplicable at best, which almost ALWAYS calls into question the......coaching! So, come Sunday in Cincinnati, we can only expect the.....unexpected! With that kind of recent history, I won't be too excited if they win nor will I be too disappointed if they lose.......

richieG said...

Hey TL,
That's why they play the game...on grass! A N D, the Bengals are in a winorgohome mode. That being said, either they match up better with the Ravens than many teams, or...they are actually more talented!!! There are quite a few Bengals I'd rather have in comparative positions...maybe even, OMG - AndyDalton! I have watched a lot of teams this year re DirecTV and I do not believe the Ravens are as talented as Baltimore seems to think, in other words, more talented than most teams. Yep, 11-4, maybe 12-4 is an excellent record; but, how many wins do they have against higher quality teams? Maybe, if there talent is really not in the elite catagory, maybe it's the...coaching! JerryB is having a stroke at this very moment.
I will be very surprised if the Ravens win Sunday.

Tony Lombardi said...

Actually in the Ravens defense they've beaten the Steelers twice (11-4), Bengals (9-6), 49ers (12-3) and Texans (10-5) -- 5 wins. I don't think that many can match those quality wins.

Still, I have no idea what Ravens team will show up from week to week.

Does anyone?

richieG said...

You are absolutely corect re the 5 wins v really good teams; and yet...the Bengals had a TD reversed, w/o which, the game probably would have gone into OT and the Bengals would have had the BigMo. The Texans were w/o AndreJohnson!!! The Niners had a short Eastcoast trip to deal with; in a role reversal, the Ravens did not deal well on 2 Westcoast trips...huge factor/minor factor: who really knows. So, they got SKY-high and destroyed Pitt; then beat them a 2nd time. Two really good wins, a few squeakers with mitigating factors, a few stinkers in the + & the - column. In other words, a typical season for an NFL team. My point still is that I think they are not as talent-laden as people wearing purple-colored glasses seem to think. And, BTW, maybe that means their HC is better than many think. NOT including the OC though...or the ST, maybe I'm wrong!
Also, agree 100% w/you re RayLew.

Jerry B said...

The Bengals have yet to beat a playoff caliber team this year, but they get another chance on....Sunday! And, as we've already noted, TL, what team shows up in Cincinnati is anybody's guess. Again, those kinds of inconsistencies usually point to coaching more than talent. Just ask Andy Reid, whose team was annointed "the dream team" in preseason. Or, perhaps another apparently talent laden team that resides in.....Dallas, while the Packers and Patriots manage to win on offense alone with great QBs and the Colts literally fold up their tent without one! And, finally, there is Drew Brees who has teamed up with Sean Payton in New Orleans, while the guy who replaced him in San Diego is stuck with.....Norv Turner! Once, again, I rest my case.......