Will Ray Rice being reinstated by the NFL and made a free agent by any sort of distraction to the Baltimore Ravens this week?
Nah. He isn't a Raven any longer and the fact he was cut by the team wasn't a distraction, so neither will his reinstatement.
Is it still too early to believe in Justin Forsett? Is he starting to get credit for his unexpectedly good season or is Kubiak getting all the love?
People have been showing Forsett a lot of love, which he rightfully deserves, but I think his success is more on Gary Kubiak and the offensive line than anything. Obviously Justin Forsett knows how to run in Kubiak's system but I think most single cut rushers would have success with this line. The biggest question is if Forsett deserves a long term deal with the Ravens or if they can find similar success with a rookie or cheaper free agent pickup. Only time will be able to tell with that one, but my guess is the Ravens want to keep a classy player if his price is right.
This seems like the type of game that could come down to a special teams play. Give me a full rundown on the Ravens' special teams.
The Ravens have one of the best kickers in the league in Justin Tucker. He hit a 55 harder the other week like it was an extra point. Sam Koch, the punter just booted a 73 yard punt himself, so leg strength and accuracy is there. The coverage units are above average. They don't regularly give up big plays but they also don't make big plays too often either. The Ravens return group is boom or bust though. Either Jacoby Jones will fumble the ball or he will return it for a touchdown. Earlier in the year, he had some major issues with dropping the ball, but he has seemed to get over that.
The Ravens' secondary seemed to take a big step down after a big injury or two earlier this year. How vulnerable are they?
This really is the weak spot on the Ravens at this point. Cornerback Jimmy Smith was having a Pro Bowl type of a year before his injury and unfortunately Lardarius Webb has yet to get back to his form, which might indicate that his back injury has lingered on a little longer than the Ravens might be letting on. Add in a bunch of depth injuries at corner and you have a team that has suited up a minimal amount of cornerbacks each week this season.
Right now, the combination of Webb, Anthony Levine and Danny Gorrer are the starting corners. The thing about this unit is that they have their weird bipolar moments at times. Both Gorrer and Levine aren't the greatest corners, but they had a very respectable outing last week against a tough Saints opponent that should have tore the secondary to shreds. Then again, this is nearly the same team that let Ben Roethlisberger toss up six touchdowns not too long ago.
With Will Hill finally getting up to speed, the secondary is starting to gel around a pass rush that is one of the best in the league at pressuring quarterbacks simply be just keeping plays in front of them and sure tackling. Opponents will get their yards and maybe even a big play, but the Ravens are working specifically to limit the explosiveness of any passing offense.
What is your prediction for this game?
Every week I get asked this question and every week my answer is nearly the polar opposite of what I say, so we are going to try and continue to streak today. I say the Ravens lose this game 20 - 17. I think it comes down to a single mistake by either team that the opposing offense can take advantage of. I personally don't trust the rushing attack of the Chargers, but I also don't trust the secondary of the Ravens either. The Ravens rush attack will milk time off the clock and the Ravens pass rush will make Phillip Rivers wish he was retired, hopefully leading to the mistake being on the Chargers instead of my Ravens.
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