First and foremost, we have no place to blame Justin Tucker for missing that kick; he’s just made too many big ones that we have to forgive an inevitable hiccup. Yeah, it was completely gut-wrenching. I was jumping up and down in my apartment, fired up, knowing that surely the game was headed for overtime. Honestly, I didn’t even have to think about the kick. To me, once John Brown caught the ball from Flacco, it was overtime. For every bit this loss was a killer, it also provided hope. In my mind, the Ravens’ ability to keep pace with the Saints and play them close, even at home, proved they are a contender. They grounded a high-flying offense, they scored enough to bring the game within one point of overtime, and they probably didn’t play their best ball.
The Ravens should have won on Sunday afternoon, even with Justin Tucker’s miss. The defense played terrifically for 3 quarters before surrendering 17 consecutive points in the 4th quarter. Jimmy Smith’s return is a problem, and he got torched by Michael Thomas, especially in the second half. The Panthers don’t have a wideout the caliber of Thomas, however, so Smith may not prove to be a liability.
The toughest test for the Ravens this week will be to score on Carolina’s stout defense. The Panthers are a tough, physical team who will be even harder to beat on their home turf. I had the Ravens winning this game in my original predictions, not necessarily for some specific reason, I just have a feeling. The Ravens are usually a good team off a loss, and I expect this week to be no different. After showing the ability to hang with one of the best teams in the league (and my NFC representative in the Super Bowl), Baltimore can make a statement by winning in Carolina and again at home versus Pittsburgh.
This Sunday, I’m forecasting a tough, ugly, typical “Ravens” win. They won’t do anything special, except maybe defensively, but the prospect of Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey doesn’t bother me too much. As long as the Ravens can score 20 points, I think they will win. And, as I’ve said, they will – easily.
Ravens: 27 – Panthers: 16