Late For Work 12/8: Would Ravens Beat Packers, Steelers Again?

How many more losses for Ravens? Manning or Suggs for MVP? Tyrod’s shot will come.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Thursday, December 8th, 2011 at 9:25 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Would Ravens Beat Packers, Steelers Again?

Let’s put out a disclaimer before we chat about this topic.

First, the Ravens players and coaches are 100 percent focused on the Indianapolis Colts. They’ve fielded questions about the playoffs and the Super Bowl, but won’t go there.

For example, running back Ray Rice was asked by Scott Van Pelt about the Super Bowl, and while Rice said he wants to get there since he has played in every other playoff game, he explained the Ravens have to “crawl before you walk.” Meaning, they’ve got four games left on their schedule, and then work through each playoff round.

But that doesn’t mean that fans and media aren’t looking ahead and debating.

Fans were interested in two hypotheticals that are a looong way off, but are fun to consider. And ESPN’s Jamison Hensley chimed in on both. (If you are superstitious and you don’t like looking ahead, you may want to skip this section.)

  • “IF the steelers and ravens cross paths again in the playoffs, is it reasonable to think that baltimore can beat pittsburgh three times in one season With how the past two games played out, I can’t see pittsburgh dropping a third. your thoughts??” asked Andy from Oak Hill, WV.

“Ravens have a good shot at beating Pittsburgh three times if the third time is at M&T Bank Stadium,” replied Hensley. “Ravens have awful shot at doing it if it’s at Heinz Field.”

  •  ”Jamison, True or False – Only the Steelers and Ravens can beat the Packers in the SB,” asked Greg from Baltimore.

“Absolutely true,” Hensley responded. “Patriots’ defense won’t be able to contain Aaron Rodgers, the offenses from the Texans and Broncos won’t be able to convert third downs against Packers with T.J. Yates and Tim Tebow at quarterback.”

Poll: How Many More Losses For Ravens?

Getting back to the “crawl before you walk” philosophy …

There are four battles the Ravens must win in order to clinch home-field advantage: Colts (0-12), @ Chargers (5-7), Browns (4-8) and @ Bengals (7-5).

If the Ravens lose even one, it could cost them dearly with the Steelers primed to jump atop the division.

Of the four remaining games, a fan asked which has the most potential to be a “trap game.”

While traveling across the country to San Diego will be daunting, Hensley says history points to the Bengals posing the biggest threat. Baltimore has lost its last two contests in Cincy.

How many more losses for the Ravens?

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In a SportsNation poll, readers were asked how many more losses they think the Ravens will have out of their final four. Of 8,067 votes, 54 percent said one game, 36 percents said zero, and 10 percent said two or more.

It’d be interesting to see how the Ravens faithful compare in voting. Do more than 36 percent of you think Baltimore will win out? Vote in the poll and explain below.

To put in perspective how important it is that the Ravens win out, remember the past four AFC champions were either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed.

“The Ravens and Steelers aren’t fighting over supremacy of the division,” wrote ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. “They’re fighting for a trip to the Super Bowl, based on recent history in the AFC and between the franchises. … Getting home field in this rivalry isn’t only an advantage, it’s a necessity.”

In all three phases of the game, the Ravens appear to excel while playing in front of their home crowd.

Consider these stats:

  • The Ravens can win their ninth consecutive home game this Sunday against the Colts, which would set a franchise record. Their eight straight wins is the second-longest current NFL streak. Baltimore has won 16 of its past 17 at The Bank.
  • The Ravens excel when Ray Rice gets the ball, right?  Under Head Coach John Harbaugh, they have rushed an NFL-high 1,015 times at home and posted an NFL-best 41 rushing touchdowns. In those games, Baltimore is 25-5.
  • Baltimore has outscored opponents at home, 175-95 this season. Those opponents include playoff-caliber teams like Pittsburgh, Houston, San Francisco, Cincinnati and the New York Jets.
  • Since 2008, the Ravens have given up the fewest points per game at home (13.4). Over that same span, Baltimore has allowed the second fewest yards per game (272.2).
  • Kicker Billy Cundiff is 16-of-16 in field goal attempts on the turf at M&T Bank Stadium. He is 10-for-18 on the road.

Manning Or Suggs For MVP?

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs is on many high-profile lists as a candidate to become the league’s MVP, including Mike Sando’s of ESPN and Peter King’s of SI.com.

Suggs has notched 10 sacks, 17 quarterback hits, three forced fumbles, 15 tackles for loss and two interceptions. He’s helped lead the defense to dominating performances while their leader Ray Lewis was sidelined with a toe injury the last three games.

Defensive players rarely contend seriously in MVP voting,” wrote Sando.

That’s true. But what about players who have never stepped on the field?

Some are arguing Colts quarterback Peyton Manning should be considered, even though he has yet to play because he is still healing from neck surgery.

“Nobody took the debate seriously, not at the start, anyway. The last letter of MVP, after all, stands for ‘Player,’ as in someone who actually takes part in the game,” wrote Jim Litke of the Associated Press.

“But go ahead, try and name someone — anyone — more valuable to his team than Peyton Manning. He’s already the league’s only four-time MVP.”

What once seemed like a silly debate among fans in chat rooms and forums, the chatter has picked up steam. Even Chargers Head Coach Norv Turner said there’s “a good argument” for Manning to win the honor.

Litke points out that with Manning calling the shots, the Colts ranked first in points, passing yards and total yards per game. This season, they rank 29th, 29th and tied for 26th, respectively. Usually a sure playoff contender, Indianapolis is winless without their leader.

“Look, we all know who would win if we took a poll right now. Aaron Rodgers would absolutely kill it. But if the Colts end up going the way they’re headed,” said Mike Dunphy, publisher and editor-in-chief of NFL Magazine, “the more it proves that Peyton really is the franchise.”

Tyrod: My Shot Will Come, I’ll Impress

Lots of people are talking about backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

After running for 2 yards out of the wildcat formation last Sunday against the Browns, Taylor reminded everyone that he is still around waiting for his opportunity to step up.

The Associated Press points out that if the Ravens can put together a blow-out performance against the winless Colts on Sunday, there’s a chance fans could see Taylor back on the field.

It would be a good opportunity to see how Baltimore would fare if Taylor had to step in if Joe Flacco were injured.

“The Ravens are pursuing the top seed in the AFC playoffs and could not afford a drop off in production if Flacco got hurt,” wrote David Ginsburg. “The 22-year-old Taylor understands that perfectly.”

“If something would go wrong, they expect you to go in there and win,” Taylor told Ginsburg. “I welcome that. I don’t shy away from that pressure. I’ve always been a guy that turns pressure into positive energy and goes out there and plays there. Of course it would be all eyes on me, and I’m ready for that.

“Look at the guy who won the Super Bowl last year. Aaron Rodgers sat down for three years and just watched. My shot will come, and when it does, I’ll impress people.”

Rice ‘Definitely’ Thinks He’ll Stay In Baltimore

After days like Sunday – where Ray Rice ran for a career-high 204 yards – fans hope he will be in Baltimore for years to come. Rice is currently in the last year of his rookie contract.

Nobody wants to see his time here come to end – including Rice.

Asked if he thinks he’ll be back in purple in black, Rice was confident.

“I definitely think I’m going to be a Baltimore Raven after this season,” Rice told the NFL Network. “Our organization is a first-class organization. They’ve always done a good job of keeping their star players around and I think I’ll be one of the guys that in the offseason – or whenever it is. I figure if you take care of the game, the game will take care of you.

“And I’ll be a Baltimore Raven next year.”

Quick Hits

  • Baltimore is the 87 percent favorite over the Colts after AccuScore’s 10,000 simulations of the matchup. [ESPN]
  • Anyway the Ravens would lose to the Colts? “No way. Ravens have struggled against lesser opponents on the road. Outside of a scare against Arizona, the Ravens have been dominant at home — against good teams and bad ones,” wrote Jamison Hensley. [ESPN]
  • The man accused of taking money from Maryland schools in order to produce Ravens players for assemblies – and then not following through but keeping the funds – was arrested Tuesday in Aberdeen, police said. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Turns out, defensive end Cory Redding enjoys rollerblading and moon bounces. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • The Ravens’ gamble with Lardarius Webb paid off Sunday. Some teams would not use their top cornerback to return punts, but the Ravens are doing it. [CSNBaltimore.com]
  • The 10-year anniversary of the Ravens’ most recent victory over the Indianapolis Colts occurred last Friday, but the big day passed quietly, without mention. [CSNBaltimore.com]
  • Turns out Rice had some extra motivation when he ran for 204 yards against Cleveland. He received a text message from fullback Vonta Leach shortly before kickoff that got him fired up. [CSNBaltimore.com]

 

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