We know by now that nothing is guaranteed in the NFL. However, there are signs that we writers, analysts, and fans notice -- and follow -- in becoming better and consummate predictors of the outcomes. What we desire to figure out is what exactly is our coordinators, coaches thinking during the week (football-related), and how will the Ravens execute the game plan for their fifth win of the season?
Here's what not only Dean Pees knows, but what we learn from research:
(1) All four of the Falcons' losses (2-4) to their opponents have been by 10 or more points. To the Cincinnati Bengals and Chicago Bears, Atlanta fell by 14, to Minnesota by 13, and the New York Giants triumphed by 10.
Total score: 108 opponents, 71 Falcons.
(2) Their offense is prolific, ranking third in the league behind the Colts (1) and Saints (2). The Ravens defense played exceptionally well in Indianapolis but due to a woeful outing on offense they failed to seal the deal. Baltimore flies to New Orleans for another must-win game on November 24.
(3) The Falcons lost to the following defenses (current rankings, overall output):
Bengals - 28th, 5th in the league in passes defensed (40)
Vikings - 7th, allowing 332.0 yards per game
Giants - 22nd, leads the NFL's with 10 interceptions
Bears - 16th, ranked 2nd in forced fumbles (tied with the Philadelphia Eagles), registered 15 sacks
How do the Ravens stack up to the mediocre teams that had no trouble dominating the Falcons this season?? Well, currently, they are 9th in passes defensed with 35, 17th with allowing 361.2 yards per game, tied for 16th with four interceptions. and tied for 7th with six forced fumbles. That's a mouthful, so chew slow.
(4) Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap devoured quarterback Matt Ryan earlier this season. His stats really lie - but if you watch - the defensive end came off the edge with conviction play after play. Nose tackle Domata Peko and Geno Atkins consistently pressured the Falcons offensive line like a rice cooker. In the video clip below, Ryan throws three interceptions against currently the 28th-ranked defense in the league.
Don't discount the third one. Although there were 34 seconds left and Atlanta trailed by 14, Ryan had an open receiver streaking down field and the quarterback blatantly under-threw his target. The pass almost appears to have been intended for Roddy White, who is in the vicinity before George Iloka has his Pick-2 like he's at Panera. I question Ryan's arm strength.
Ryan does have a great release on his quick passes, but Dean Pees' versatile defensive front will apply enough pressure throughout the course of the game, wearing out Ryan's mental toughness. Again, that weak-armed pass, to me, looked as if No. 2 didn't want to lead a fourth-quarter comeback. Anything is possible, right? #MILEHIGHMIRACLE
(5) Six of Ryan's 12 touchdown passes came from outside the red zone. Ravens' communication on the back end must be crystal clear. The Ravens activated Will Hill today. We wonder if Pees will have the former Giants safety (two career interceptions, one for a touchdown and two forced fumbles), will see any action tomorrow afternoon.
Another set of fresh legs to assist in covering Julio Jones, White, Devin Hester, and Harry Douglas. ...why not?
(6) Fifth-year pro running back Antone Smith is putting up numbers he's never seen before, but is still deemed to not be the team's long-term answer. Inside linebackers Daryl Smith and C.J. Mosley must stay mindful of where the multi-purpose running back is lined up on the field. Smith has three receiving touchdowns and is averaging 22.0 yards a RECEPTION, and nearly 10 yards per carry.
In this video clip (1:10) you will see the running back shushing everyone in the crowd after running for a 48-yard touchdown. I assure you, fans, we will not watch him making such gesture tomorrow.
Our defense is ready.