O’s Look to Take Flight in Motor City

The Orioles escaped the cold in Boston, only to find themselves right back in frigid conditions in Detroit to take on the Tigers. For how poorly the Orioles (5-11) have played through their first 16 games, the Tigers (4-9) have been less than stellar as well. Detroit hasn’t been able to score runs, and even when they have, Jordan Zimmerman (8.18 ERA) and Ryan Carpenter (9.00 ERA) have allowed more than they should’ve.

 

If the Orioles are going to get it back in gear, this is the team to do it against. With Jonathan Schoop on the 10-day DL, the birds had to do some reshuffling on defense. Danny Valencia and Luis Sardiñas are the likely candidates while Manny Machado stays at shortstop. The Orioles, after a promising series in the Bronx last weekend absolutely fell apart against the division rival Blue Jays and Red Sox.

 

 

GAME 1: Tuesday, April 17th , 6:40 PM, 36 Degrees. Pitchers: Andrew Cashner (2.50)  vs. Francisco Liriano (2.13 ERA)

 

  • Cashner and Liriano have been lights out thus far this season, but although the low ERAs, they haven’t gotten much run support. Look for a low scoring affair in a chilly night in Detroit.

 

GAME 2: Wednesday, April 18th , 1:10 PM, 34 Degrees. Pitchers: Kevin Gausman (6.60 ERA) vs. Matthew Boyd (1.38 ERA)

 

  • Gausman has had a rough start to a season once again, trying too hard to become a finesse pitcher instead of using his power pitches. If he can find his niche, he will become a very solid pitcher. Boyd has attempted to switch more to a finesse style as well, but it has actually worked.

 

GAME 3: Thursday, April 19th , 1:10 PM , 28 Degrees. Pitchers: Alex Cobb (17.18 ERA) vs. Jordan Zimmerman (8.18 ERA)

 

  • After a disastrous debut at Fenway Park, Alex Cobb gets a chance to shrink his ERA against a lineup that’s had trouble against more experienced pitchers. Zimmerman has looked like a different pitcher this season thus far and his ERA shows it.

 

 

Games will be seen/heard on MASN and 105.7 the Fan

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Orioles Lose 2-1 To Toronto

On a night that progressively got colder, the dwindling crowd had to endure the first 7 innings without a single Orioles hit. Andrew Cashner, the starting pitcher for the birds went an impressive 7 innings with 104 pitches, a serious improvement from his first start at Camden Yards. He improved his ERA to a very good 2.50. Aaron Sanchez (1-1, 3.66 ERA) who started for the Blue Jays had a no hitter until the 8th inning, which was broken up by a late rally started by Tim Beckham.

 

Orioles OF Trey Mancini made great contact with the ball, but luck was not on his side as 2 fell short of the outfield wall. He went 0-4 in this outing. The O’s only  hits of the night came in the bottom of the 8th when Beckham, Santander, and Sisco each found their stroke. But it was too little, too late.

 

Darren O’Day, who got the loss, disappointed tonight as well, surrendering a Curtis Granderson solo shot to right field to give the Blue Jays the go-ahead run. It would be the last score of the game as the Orioles went out with a whimper, Chris Davis lined out to right field in the bottom of the 9th, to which just over 8,000 boos rained down on him.

 

The Orioles fall to 4-8 on the season with one game left against Toronto. The Birds try to avoid being swept at home while trying to figure out what’s wrong with their offense that was supposed to be potent. Kevin Gausman (0-1, 8.00 ERA) takes on Marco Estrada (1-0, 2.77 ERA) Wednesday at 7:05 PM.

Best and worst case playoff scenarios for the Baltimore Ravens

As you can probably tell by the name of this article, I will be guiding you through the best and worst case playoff scenarios for the Baltimore Ravens. Based on their play this season, I am also predicting the outcomes of the games they play if they make it that far. This is my opinion, with uses of factual data to make the best judgment. Currently Baltimore sits at the #5 seed, the first Wild Card spot in the AFC. It is week 17 and on New Year’s Eve the Ravens will play their final regular season game against the Cincinnati Bengals, who the Ravens shut out in week 1, 20-0. Kickoff is slated for 4:25 pm from M&T Bank Stadium.

Scenario #1: Baltimore comes into their home stadium with momentum and grit after last week’s hard-fought contest against the Indianapolis Colts. They beat the Bengals handily by a score or two and clinch a playoff berth. But somewhere else in the NFL, the Buffalo Bills succumbed to a smokin’ Jay Cutler resurgence and fell to the Miami Dolphins. Elsewhere, the Tennessee Titans may have saved Mike Mularkey’s job by defeating division winner Jacksonville Jaguars who have nothing to play for this week.

Baltimore keeps the #5 seed and moves on to Wild Card Weekend (where John Harbaugh-led Ravens teams have never lost) to take on Andy Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs. The home of the Chiefs, Arrowhead Stadium, is notorious for being one of the loudest in the NFL and it shows on multiple false start penalties for the Ravens. But with the stout run defense able to slow down upstart rookie Kareem Hunt to a crawl, the Ravens force Alex Smith to take it to the air. Chiefs wideout Tyreek Hill abuses the Ravens secondary but they make an adequate enough halftime adjustment to beat the Chiefs 30-27 on a last-second FG by phenom Kicker Justin Tucker.

The Tennessee Titans faced the Jaguars on Wild Card Weekend and got decimated in every sense of the word. The Jaguars defense, after being rested in week 17, was suffocating. The Jags ended up winning 30-7 and will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers.

That leaves the Ravens with a trip to Foxborough to take on the #1 seed New England Patriots. The Ravens have consistently given Bill Belichick and Tom Brady headaches in January, but the Ravens don’t have the consistency or leadership this time around to stun the football world. The Ravens offense is not able to get it going and the absence of Jimmy Smith is noticed as they wind up losing in the cold 28-13.

Thats where their season ends.

Scenario #2: The Ravens drop the ball on Sunday against the Bengals, quite literally. Breshad Perriman’s last play as a Raven was a dropped pass in the end zone that would’ve won the game. Baltimore loses quick enough to watch the Bills and Titans both win, successfully edging them out of the playoffs. Baltimore hasn’t made the playoffs since 2014 and with this failure, even at 9-7, the John Harbaugh era has ended in Baltimore.

Sources: CBSSports.com & NFL.com

Photo Credit: CBSSports.com

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Preview: Ravens set to battle Stafford and visiting Lions

BALTIMORE, MD – After yet another inept game offensively against the Houston Texans, albeit a win, the Baltimore Ravens turn their sights toward the second most dangerous team they have to play in this rear end of the 2017 season, the Detroit Lions.

The Ravens have seemed to regain their early season dominance defensively with Brandon Williams back at the helm. The safety duo of Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson has finally gotten comfortable working with each other and have tightened up the back end.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect for the unit, considering they are going up against an inconsistent, although immensely talented, quarterback in Matthew Stafford who can’t seem to orchestrate scoring drives when in the redzone. The Ravens have excelled at redzone defense this year. The division rival Pittsburgh Steelers managed to keep the Lions out of the end zone after consistent long marches down the field.

Things to Look For:

  1. Ravens Defensive Backs – This will be one of the toughest, if not the toughest test the Ravens back end will have this season. Teams like the Steelers like to have some sort of pass/run balance, but the Lions and Stafford just sling it. The safeties and corners will have to run harder virtually all game.
  2. Lions Wide Receivers – On the flip side, the receivers Marvin Jones and Golden Tate have been one of the more dynamic receiving duos this season, combining for 164 catches and 1,429 yards. Both men have played extremely well against tough competition, making acrobatic plays to keep the Lions in games.
  3. Alex Collins – After being on the injury report this week, Collins looks to continue his strong production this week against a porous Lions run defense that has been gashed by many backs this season. Collins could top 100 yards against this drab unit, especially if Joe Flacco has less pass attempts.
  4. Ravens Offensive Line – It’s bad that I’m putting this here, REALLY BAD. The line will be going up against speed rusher Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah and veteran Dwight Freeney, who still has one of the nastiest spin moves I’ve ever seen. Ronnie Stanley needs to handle both of these guys better than he handled Jadeveon Clowney last week.

Details:

Where: M&T Bank Stadium – Baltimore, Maryland

When: 1:00 pm EST

Radio: WBAL-1090, 98 Rock, Ravens’ website

Commentators: Gerry Sandusky, Stan White, Justin Forsett

TV: Fox

Commentators: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman

Image Credit: Baltimore Ravens 

PREVIEW: Ravens Travel North to Lambeau to face Packers

BALTIMORE, MD – For only the fourth time since their inception, the Ravens will trek north to where the cheeseheads roam, Green Bay, Wisconsin. With how their last game ended, a 23-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans, Baltimore looks to bounce back against a Packers squad that has been playing a far cry from the quality of NFL fans are used to seeing.

Baltimore is coming off a bye week, which is excellent for the team as they seem to finally be as healthy as can be. Running back Danny Woodhead is returning to the 53-man roster after his stint on the IR-Designated-to-Return list. Head Coach John Harbaugh gleefully told the media how excited he was to have the team in shape coming out of the bye. We all know that a happy “Harbs” means a good week, right? It also figures that the Ravens are historically competitive and good coming out of their bye week as shown by the graphic below.

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Graphic Credit: Cheat Sheet War Room

The last time the Ravens took on the Packers was in 2013, yes the dreaded Super Bowl Hangover season that no one should ever speak of. They lost in pure Ravens fashion 19-17. It is also worth noting that the game was at M&T Bank Stadium and Aaron Rodgers was doing what he does best. This time around the game is at Lambeau and Rodgers will be on the sidelines, still recovering from his broken collarbone suffered in week 6 against the Vikings. It seems the Birds have the advantage here.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR:

  1. Brett Hundley – He hasn’t played THAT badly, okay? He has shown some serious talent by orchestrating good drives against good defenses which is no small task for a backup quarterback. If the Ravens are to stop him Sunday, they have to get pressure up the middle, if they are unable to do it, Hundley can make a defense pay with his mobility.
  2. Ravens Wide Receivers – There is no defensive backfield that has been more prone to getting burned in the NFL over the last five years than the much maligned Green Bay secondary. If the comments by Dennis Pitta ticked the coaching staff off to the point where they want Joe Flacco to prove he CAN be competent, this is the EXACT team to do it against. Look for Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace to combine for at least 250 yards. Yep, 250.
  3. Ravens Pass Rush – So its painfully obvious now, Rodgers’ ability to extend plays and get rid of the ball quickly made his offensive line look much better than it really is. There is still an adjustment period between the Hundley and his O-Line.    Terrell Suggs, Brandon Williams, and Matthew Judon HAVE to take advantage.
  4. Ravens Running Backs – With the expected heavy emphasis on the passing game, this could be a rare case in which the running backs benefit from the spreading out of the defense. Look for the team to have 125 total rushing yards.

Prediction: Ravens win this matchup 28-17 for their first ever win at Lambeau Field (currently 0-3 at Green Bay).

Details:

When: Sunday, Nov. 19, 1:00 pm

Where: Lambeau Field – Green Bay, WI

Radio: WBAL 1090, 98 Rock, Baltimore Ravens website

Commentators: Gerry Sandusky, Justin Forsett, Stan White

TV: CBS

Commentators: Kevin Harland, Rich Gannon, Melanie Collins

Image Credit: Bleacher Report 

 

 

Preview: Flacco returns in time for tilt in Music City

NASHVILLE, TN — At the Ravens practice facility, there was a reason to be happy this week. No, it’s not because of the shellacking the birds handed to the offensively-challenged Miami Dolphins, or the fact that Alex Collins just ran for the first 100-yard game in his career. No, it was the return of formerly concussed quarterback Joe Flacco.

After six days of fans and media alike preparing for a start by backup gunslinger Ryan Mallett, the entirety of Ravens faithful can give a healthy sigh of relief. Flacco and head coach John Harbaugh both emphasized that Flacco was quick to get over the concussion symptoms, and he had always been in this week’s game plan.

On another note, the defense seems to have jump-started, accumulating two pick-six’s in last Thursday’s game. Linebacker C.J. Mosley and cornerback Jimmy Smith were the heros on defense, each scoring a touchdown after catching an interception.

Things To Look For: 

  1. Flacco: Seeing as he just came back from a brutal hit that had him looking like he was heavily inebriated, it’ll be interesting to watch if he is afraid to take hits this time around. Although, my gut tells me that he will pick up from last week’s impressive start.
  2. Marcus MariotaAfter eight weeks, Mariota doesn’t look like his usual self. After coming off of a back injury which will undoubtedly hinder his speed during play action and bootlegs, he will most certainly fall back on the pair of bruising RBs, DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry.
  3. Titans RBs: As I alluded to in the above paragraph, the two backs will see at least 40 combined carries in this game. If not solely for the sake of the sluggish Mariota, the Ravens 30th-ranked run defense will definitely play a role in how many totes the backs get in this tilt.
  4. Collins: After recording his first 100-yard performance of his young career, Collins looks to put up more big numbers against a Titans defense that has been largely susceptible to all kinds of offense. Look for Collins to get at least 20 touches in this matchup.
  5. Smith: Pro Football Focus ranked Jimmy Smith as the best corner in week 8, lets see if he can finally live up to his 1st round pedigree and recapture his shutdown form from 2013.

Details:

TV: CBS/WJZ (Channel 13)

Commentators:

Kevin Harlan (play-by-play)
Rich Gannon (analyst)
Melanie Collins (sideline)

Radio:

WBAL (1090 AM)
98 Rock (97.9 FM)

Commentators:

Gerry Sandusky (play-by-play)
Stan White (analyst)
Justin Forsett (analyst)

Weather:

High: 78 degrees
Low: 64 degrees
Precipitation: 20 percent
Humidity: 74 percent
Wind: 15 miles per hour

Photo Credit: Ravens’ Website

Follow Vasilios on Twitter @VtheNFLGuy for more commentary on the latest sports headlines!

Preview: Ravens Battle Vikings in battle of the purple

MINNEAPOLIS — The Ravens leave the familiar confines of M&T Bank Stadium yet again to venture north to take on the other team in purple, the Minnesota Vikings. After a dreadful overtime loss last week to the much maligned Chicago Bears squad, the Ravens limp into week 7 falling apart at every juncture. G/T Tony Bergstrom was cut and replaced with a familiar face, WR Grif Whalen, who spent the preseason with Baltimore.

In a losing effort last week, the WRs once again could not catch the ball for the life of them, one of those tipped passes ended up becoming a 90-yard pick-six by Baltimore native and Calvert Hall Alum Adrian Amos. That play was a back-breaker for a team that had clawed its way to find anything even slightly resembling an offense. Although the Ravens had two special teams touchdowns, the miscues made by their offense and their inability to stop Jordan Howard (who carried the ball 36 times for 164 yards), made overtime a nightmare in M&T. By the end, the stadium was occupied by what looked to be about 30,000 fans.

Things To Look For:

  1. Brandon WilliamsHe has practiced two days consecutively this week and is striving to make his return this week. How effective can he be after missing a month of football? Chances are he still isn’t 100% and probably won’t be for the rest of the year.
  2. Ravens WRs: If anything comes out of this group there should be cause for celebration. Hey, if Eli Manning can do it, why can’t Joe Flacco? Am I right? *Crickets*
  3. Case Keenum: The more-than-solid backup will be likely be without his top target in Stefon Diggs. But that won’t stop Keenum from playing lights-out in front of the home crowd. The QB looks to make his mark and who better to do it against than the Baltimore Ravens?
  4. Vikings Defense: The Vikings defense is lauded by many folks, who praise it for being one of the most suffocating defenses in recent history. They have their flaws, but as a heavy zone scheme squad, they know how to make up for small miscues. Look for the Vikings to abuse the Ravens in this matchup, its looking dim for the Birds.

Details: 

Date: Sunday, Oct. 22

Time: 1:00 p.m. ET

Location: US Bank Stadium — Minneapolis, Minnesota

Channel: CBS (check local listings)

Stream: CBS All Access

Broadcasters: Trent Green, Greg Gumbel, Jamie Erdahl

Radio: WBAL News Radio 1090 , BaltimoreRavens.com