Podcast Episode 31: Ravens Holiday Special: Will Baltimore host an NFL playoff game for the first time in six years?

Image Credit: The Athletic

Welcome to Episode 31 of the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast with site owner Jake McDonnell, editor Nolan McGraw, and author Ian Schultz.

At the top of the show, we revisit the Ravens’ monumental 22-10 win over the Los Angeles Chargers from Saturday night (6:23). Along with breaking down the Ravens’ playoff picture, we analyze the Ravens’ decision to retain head coach John Harbaugh following Friday night’s announcement (18:12). As always, we tell you Who’s Trending (28:41) and go over some things to watch for in week 17 when the Ravens take on the Browns (39:51) to try to clinch the AFC North and their first trip to the playoffs since 2014.

At the bottom of the show, we dive into our weekly numbers segment, taking a look at the best Baltimore sports athletes to wear the number 31 (52:37).

You can find the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast on SoundCloudiTunes, and Google Play. Please leave us a review on iTunes, we love to hear your feedback and may read it on a future episode. Happy Holidays and thank you for listening!

The Charm City Bird Watch Podcast is brought to you by Seven Sports Bar & Grille. For a limited time only on behalf on Charm City Bird Watch, you can receive a 10% discount off any entree dish when you tell your server (including Jimmy) or bartender the promo code ‘Charm City.’ 

*Offer expires after the new year*

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Five thoughts following the Ravens 22-10 win over the Chargers

The Baltimore Ravens took the field on Saturday night dressed in their classic all-white uniforms and proceeded to pick up a 22-10 win on the shoulders of a heavy rush attack and a strong defense. What year is it?

It certainly didn’t feel like 2018 but I won’t waste any more of your time by setting the scene. Here are five takeaways from the Ravens biggest win of the season.

1 – First half domination (sort of):

If you missed the game and had to follow along with score updates, you would probably think the Ravens had a rough first half. A 6-3 lead was less than ideal but there was way more to like about the first half than dislike. The Baltimore defense was locked in for the entire half and absolutely manhandled the Chargers offense.

It all started on the first play when Philip Rivers tried to go deep down the sideline but was picked off by Brandon Carr. Mike Williams had Carr beat but Rivers under-threw the ball, allowing the Ravens corner to regain control and make a play.

The Ravens first turnover of the night set the tone for the first half and the rest of the game. The Chargers offense did not pick up a first down until the beginning of the second quarter and could not cross mid-field until the end of the half when a pass interference call finally moved them into Ravens territory.

Despite all of this, the Ravens offense only mustered six points. They certainly had their opportunities but could not capitalize. Justin Tucker missed a 53-yard field goal in the first quarter but on the next possession the Ravens found themselves in the red zone again. After getting stopped on third and goal, John Harbaugh decided to go for it but Lamar Jackson’s pass sailed out of the back of the end zone and the Ravens were left with another empty possession.

2 – Poor field conditions:

One of the things that made the first half ugly was the amount of plays stopped by a player losing their footing. Both teams had trouble with this early on but it seemed to impact the Ravens a little more as the road team. Carr fell down twice in coverage and later on in the first quarter Gus Edwards slipped on a run, tripping James Hurst in the process. The Ravens left guard was shaken up on the play but later returned to the game.

The footing issues disappeared at the half and didn’t have much of an impact on the remainder of the game. I would assume some players switched cleats during the break but that’s just a guess. The Chargers temporary home has been clowned for its seating capacity but I have not heard any complaints about the field up until now. Thankfully it did not have a bigger impact on the outcome of the game.

3 – Jackson outplays Rivers:

Perhaps one of the most surprising outcomes from this game was how the quarterback dual played out. I don’t think many people expected Jackson to have this good of a game, let alone outshine a future hall of fame quarterback.

Jackson finished the night 12-for-22 with 204 yards and a touchdown. It marks the first time Jackson has thrown for over 200 yards in his six-game career. On the other hand, Rivers was very lackluster, going 23-for-37 with 181 yards and two interceptions. Not only did Jackson have a better game throwing the ball, but he also continued to be a factor in the run game by adding 39 yards on the ground.

It has absolutely nothing to do with the outcome of the game but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Jackson act as cool as a cucumber through the whole game while Rivers did nothing but yell and scream at the refs. Everyone has highlighted the differences between Jackson and Joe Flacco the past five weeks, but the one similarity seems to be their demeanor in big games.

4 – Getting it done on third and long: 

After the Ravens defense broke our hearts a few weeks ago in a loss to Kansas City, it was nice to see them get the job done in third and long situations this time around. The Chargers started the game 0-for-6 on third down and their most favorable distance in that span was 3rd-and-15. That should tell you everything you need to know. Whether it was the Ravens pass rush setting up these long down situations or the Chargers committing offensive penalties, Baltimore was able to take advantage and get off the field.

5 – Pass rush comes up big in key situations:

It has certainly been a roller coaster year for the Ravens pass rush. We all know about the monster game they put together in Tennessee but there have also been a handful of games where the defensive line was not able to get to the opposing quarterback at all.

Saturday wasn’t the biggest day for the pass rush but it was one of the most clutch. After taking the run option away from the Chargers the Ravens knew that the ball would be in Rivers hands with the game on the line. This allowed them to do what they do best and send the house in key situations. More often than not it was a success for Baltimore as they recorded four sacks.

All four sacks came in the second half and three ultimately led to a Chargers punt. The biggest of the night was the final one recorded by Za’Darius Smith. The Ravens outside linebacker quickly shed a block and got to Rivers before he could look down field. What made it the biggest sack of the game was the timing. The Chargers were driving and had the ball at the Ravens 29-yard line with under six minutes to play. Smith dropped Rivers for an 11-yard loss and not only forced fourth down, but also pushed the Chargers out of field goal range in a six-point game.

One more game:

This win sets up yet another high-drama game for the Ravens to close out the season. For the second straight year they will host a division opponent in week 17 with the playoffs hanging in the balance. Last year the Bengals came to town and spoiled Baltimore’s chances at the postseason and this year the Browns will be looking to do the same.

While Cleveland was technically eliminated from playoff contention when the Titans won on Saturday, they are still playing with a lot of energy and purpose at this point in the season. That is something we haven’t been able to say about the Browns in a very long time. Cleveland definitely poses a threat to the Ravens, especially after coming out victorious in the first meeting between the two teams earlier this year.

If there is one advantage to the NFL’s scheduling blunder this week it is the fact that the Ravens will have an extra day to deal with any jet leg flying back to the east coast. It is commonly said by athletes that flying west to east is more difficult than the other direction. The Ravens will get back to Baltimore on Sunday and have some extra time to get adjusted before hitting the practice field.

Quick Hits:

Image credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

Podcast Episode 24: End of Harbaugh era on the horizon for the Ravens?

Image Credit: Sporting News

Welcome to Episode 24 of the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast with site owner Jake McDonnell, editor Nolan McGraw, and author Ian Schultz.

At the top of Episode 24, we analyze where the 4-5 Ravens are following their third straight loss on Sunday at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers (5:44). We take a deep dive into the biggest moments that led to Baltimore’s loss, and look at the big picture issues that have made the Ravens a mediocre team since winning Super Bowl 47.

With the Ravens currently on their bye, Jake, Nolan, and Ian dished out their Positional Report Cards (25:28) and went over Who’s Trending (36:35) following Baltimore’s loss.

Up next, we welcome in our latest guest, Wayne Viener of Terp Talk and Capital Sports Blog (43:22). Wayne and Jake went over the fallout of the D.J. Durkin firing and predicted what’s next for the administration of Maryland athletics. Viener also went into the X’s and O’s of both the Terps’ 24-3 defeat to Michigan State and Maryland’s upcoming game in Indiana this Saturday.

After Wayne’s call-in, Nolan and Ian jump back in and share their thoughts on what’s happened at College Park over the last week (58:00). Jake also has a rant for Don’t Be A Jerk (1:02:53) stemming from a bad experience at M&T Bank Stadium this past Sunday.

To wrap up the show, we dive into our weekly numbers segment, taking a look at the best Baltimore sports athletes to wear the number 24 (1:16:09).

You can find the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast on SoundCloudiTunes, and Google Play. Please leave us a review on iTunes, we love to hear your feedback and may read it on a future episode. Thank you for listening!

The Charm City Bird Watch Podcast is brought to you by Seven Sports Bar & Grille. For a limited time only on behalf on Charm City Bird Watch, you can receive a 10% discount off any entree dish when you tell your server or bartender the promo code ‘Charm City.’