Keep it here on The Beatdown all day to post your comments and thoughts on this 'Open Thread,' as I will be trying to stay dry and warm at the stadium, rooting on the Baltimore Ravens to victory over the Detroit Lions.
The weather should be cold, wet and nasty today and hopefully, so will the Baltimore Ravens demeanor. Hopefully, that demeanor will take on that sense of urgency that seemed missing and was aptly noted by the guys in the booth on Monday Night Football in the team's loss at Green Bay last week. Perhaps this "back-against-the-wall" talk once again will spur the team onto bigger and better things starting with an impressive victory over the lowly Detroit Lions.
That really shouldn't be too difficult a task for Baltimore, but after seeing the Cleveland Browns totally dominate the Pittsburgh Steelers when the Steelers needed to win to stay alive in the playoff hunt, we all know that anything can happen if you take the game too lightly.
The Ravens will need help if they plan to make the post season and that could happen in a variety of ways. In the playoff race, the teams that are either already ahead or tied with us all seem to have harder schedules than we do, so we should be able to get the help we need to contend. However, it should all come down to the Steeler game week 16 in Pittsburgh to decide whether or not the Ravens are most likely playoff bound.
But then again, it all won't matter at all if we don't take care of business along the way, starting today with the Lions and then next week at home for the final time in 2009 against the Chicago Bears, before going on the road for the final two games of the regular season at Pittsburgh before finishing up at the Oakland Raiders.. For now, the focus must absolutely be directly on the Lions and the threat that the Daunte Culpepper to Calvin Johnson combination poses.
The Ravens pass defense has been susceptible to the long play and if not, then the pass interference is as real a possibility as the completion, as the Ravens lead the league with 12 PI penalties, including four in Monday night's loss to the Packers. This needs to stop and the coverage needs to be directed to whatever side of the field "Megatron" is lined up on. That will more than likely leave the other DB's on single coverage and they will need to come up huge as well. Shutting down Detroit's run game shouldn't be a problem and Daunte Culpepper's biggest threat to the Ravens may be his large, hard-to-bring-down frame and legs more than his once strong arm. Accuracy is not his strong point and if he throws too often and tries to go into double coverage, we could have a field day with picks, and this should definitely help turn the tide against Detroit.
Offensively, I fully expect the Ravens to continue passing the ball, despite the fans' united call to get back to what gave this team its identity and past success by running the ball. While the Ravens should have a lot of success on the ground and Ray Rice will get his yardage, the Lions are one of the worst teams at defending the pass and Joe Flacco should plan on exploiting that to get his confidence back, as well as the fans. As long as he doesn't continually speed through his reads to dump it off to Ray Rice, regardless of the success, he should be able to chuck it downfield to a bunch of receivers, including the recently activated tall, fast, long ball threat with suspect hands, Justin Harper. I'd love to see Harper break out with a solid game to help his confidence and get more looks as the season progresses. His deep abilities could stretch the field for the other receivers, much less open bigger holes for the run game as the opposition can no longer stack the box every play and dare Flacco to beat them through the air.
Despite the soggy weather, the probabilities of defensive turnovers should give the Ravens multiple scoring chances and I am confident that we will continue to put more points on the board at home than on the road as the Ravens roll over the Lions in their easiest victory of the season, sending the fans home early in a game finally not decided in the last moments.