Despite being in the thick of exams, putting my own opinion out on the Ravens’ loss in Kansas City was a necessity for me. It was one of the more bitter-sweet games I can remember, and in many ways, it was similar to the loss to the Saints earlier this year. The Ravens were neck and neck with the best team in the AFC, while on the road in one of the most daunting environments in the NFL. What’s more, they were doing all of this with a rookie quarterback making his fourth career start and his first real road start. BUT, with all those positives, the Ravens were in the position to win and, once again, were unable to close the door against a winning quarterback.
I know that a game is won and lost because of a combination of performances, and numerous players made mistakes in this game, but it has never been more clear to me that Eric Weddle is beyond the back-end of his career and must be replaced. The Ravens defense continues was strong for 45 minutes of the game, but when the offense didn’t totally dominate possession, they tired at the end. It’s not that the offense didn’t play well, because I think it may have been Lamar’s most impressive performance to date, but since they actually scored relatively quickly on occasion the Chiefs were able to keep things 50/50.
While I am tempted to let this loss keep me down, I am still excited about what it presents because it shows that the Lamar Jackson experience – for the time being, at least – works and that the Ravens are good enough to make a run. I’m confident that they will win a game if they make the playoffs, as they always do. The issue I see, though, is getting there.
I think the Ravens are better now than they have been since 2014, but because they’ve broken my heart two years in a row, I am wary of another collapse and can feel it coming. How Ravens would it be for them to beat the LA Chargers in their soccer stadium and then lose to Cleveland at home and miss the playoffs on tiebreakers? Pretty damn Ravens.
The game against the Browns is always a scary one for me, but before getting there, Baltimore has to get through Jameis Winston the Bucs. Winston is playing at a different level, and the team has won 3 of 4, so I don’t want to look past them. The key in this one will, shocker, be the time of possession. Tampa Bay has an explosive offense with a few bigtime playmakers in Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, and just like last week, I could see the secondary being exploited in the fourth quarter. To counter that, Baltimore has to get up early and stretch out a two-score advantage before the 15-minute countdown commences.
Another huge question for the week is the role that Joe Flacco will fill as the backup. I have a hot take for it – I think he’ll throw a touchdown pass! I think the Ravens will be in a tight game, maybe with a 10-7 lead, as they enter a 2-minute drill before the half. That’s primetime Joe Cool time, and he’ll replace Jackson, get fired up for his opportunity, and lead an efficient drive down the field before hitting his man John Brown for a score with under 30 seconds left. Unfortunately for Flacco, his successful drive won’t be replicated in the second half, when the Ravens try to put the nail in the coffin by stretching a 13-point lead to 27-7. Instead, Flacco will go three-and-out, and won’t see the field again that afternoon.
As you can tell, I do think the Ravens will win this game because I think they’ll establish the run. Yeah, they’ll get 200 yards again, but more importantly, they’ll control the clock as well as they did in Atlanta and win by a few scores. Final Score: Ravens – 30, Buccaneers – 17