Monday Night Football: Ravens at Jaguars

The red-hot Baltimore Ravens take their 4-1 record into Jacksonville to face the beleaguered Jaguars and their 1-5 record. Jaguars coach, Jack Del Rio is on the hot seat and what better way for him to be burnt off  then to be embarrassed in front of a national audience. This is the last game of Weak 7  for the NFL and boy have this weekend’s games been downright ugly. This one shouldn’t be anymore exciting and I, for one, cannot wait until the Patriots, Bills, Bengals, 49ers, Giants and Eagles get back to action in Week 8.

The line opened on the Ravens at -7.5 and has moved all the way up to -9.5. Huge movement and rightfully so as the public and bettors alike are enamored with the Ravens in this game. The line most likely moves up to -10, which is what I would expect from the books to tempt Jags backers into the fold. The number 10 is a difficult number to take-on with the TD-FG combo it would take to push that number. It could take three possessions to win this bet if Vegas or off-shore numbers move it. The over/under has held steady, fluctuating between 39.5 to 40 points.

Trends

Baltimore is 5-1 in their last 6 MNF games as well as 5-1 in their last 6 games as the favorite. They are also 7-1 in their last 8 games straight-up against the Jaguars and these are not the same Mark Brunell or David Garrard led Jags of old. Jacksonville is 3-10 vs the numbers in their last 13 games against teams with a winning record. One of those wins came last week vs the Steelers. Don’t let that win fool you. The Steelers are not as talented or hungry as these Ravens. The over/under trends are 5-1 in Baltimore’s last 6 games but the under is 5-1 in the Jaguars last 6 games.

Jaguars Offense vs Ravens Defense

First and foremost I would like to congratulate Ray Lewis, who became the first player in NFL history to have 40 career sacks and 30 career interceptions last week after recording his 2nd sack of the season vs the Texans. A first-ballot hall-of-famer without question leads this defense against an offense averaging only 12.0 PPG. The Ravens defense only allows 14.2 PPG, so you can see where this game may be heading. The Jaguars offense is last in the league in passing yards with rookie Blaine Gabbert at the helm and now he must face-off against Ed Reed and the Ravens pass-rush. It hasn’t been all Gabbert’s fault. He has actually thrown a mere 2INTs, but he has been sacked an alarming 17 times this season. Some of that is due to Blaine hanging onto the ball too long, but in most cases he must. His receivers need a GPS in order to run a route correctly. I get images of this team in the huddle and Gabbert now saying, “OK take 5 strides until you see a Gatorade bucket, then take two steps to your left, shake your shoulders and go deep.” After saying this, his receivers are still checking their forearm play-book cheat sheets looking for directions. C’mon guys really. With these inefficiencies the talented Maurice Jones-Drew is often left out on and island to fend for himself, and he has admirably. MJD is 3rd in the league this season with 572 yards rushing and needs only 6 more yards to amass 8,000 career rushing yards. That’s impressive MJD and I tip my hat to you. He has been doing this while opposing defenses stack the box, knowing they will be running and his smash-mouth downhill style is getting the job done.  Having said all this, expect him to struggle tonight. He had 96 yards on 22 carries against the Steelers last week, but the Ravens defense has been far superior vs the run this season holding opponents to 76.6 yds/gm. They’ve done this while facing the likes of Greene/Tomlinson, Mendenhall, Foster, Chris Johnson and Arian Foster. Impressive to say the least.

Ravens Offense vs Jaguars Defense

NFL pundits keep pointing out the struggles of Joe Flacco this season, yet he’s leading a team that averages 29.6 pts/gm and had their lowest single game scoring output of the season last week vs a talented Texans defense when they put up 29 points. Flacco’s numbers aren’t impressive with a QB rating of only 79.6% and a completion percentage of 51.4%. He is however almost at a 2:1 ratio with 7TDs/4INTS and when his defense is holding opposing QBs to a 4:6 TD/INT ratio and QB ratings of 65.9% it doesn’t seem as bad. Outplay the other team’s QB has been his mantra this season and so far he has doen just that. His numbers in the accuracy column and QB rating should improve this week, but his fantasy value may not be abundant, not after the Ravens watched Rashard Mendenhall of the Steelers pummel the rushing defense of the Jags last week. Expect a lot of Ray Rice in this league as usual. He is averaging 140 yds/gm from scrimmage. Ranking  him 3rd in the league for total yards of offense. Rice has been unreal this season. He has 398 yds on the ground and 302 yards in the passing game to give him 702 yds on the season and 4TDs. He should amass some big numbers in this game and this will open the door for A. Boldin to get his usual 5 catches and 80 yards. Expect the receiver to snag a TD on the day as well. Making matters worse for the Jaguars defense are the injuries to Safety Dawan Landry, starting CB Derek Cox and Weak-side LB Clint Session. I expect them all to play, but should be significantly slowed by their injuries and very reluctant to take the beating they received by the lumbering Mendenhall last week.  Big runs are on the menu tonight with the O-Line of the Ravens crashing the gaps and forcing the Jags best defender Paul Posluszny to take-on two blockers or be chasing down Rice from behind all night.

Fantasy & Game Predictions

From a fantasy stats perspective the Ravens, Ray Rice should easily amass 120 yards rushing and 40 yards receiving with 2TDs. Boldin will get the other TD on a 30 yard plus pass from Flacco on a play-action pass after the tiring Jags defense is beat-up from taking thighs to the face-mask and stiff-arms all night. Flacco is coming off of a 305 yd game, but with an early lead he shouldn’t be expected to duplicate those numbers, however 240 and a TD with 0 INTS are a safe bet. For the Jaguars, it is entirely possible that they get shut-out. The Ravens crazy defenders Ray Lewis and company pride themselves on dropping goose-eggs and this game could be close to that outcome. Gabbert will be picked at least twice, sacked another 5 times rendering him useless. Fantasy teams with Jones-Drew on their roster…. I apologize ahead of time but he will not record 60 yards this game. I see a mere 47-50 at best. My post-game prediction is that Del Rio doesn’t get fired, but the Offensive Coordinator gets the crap rolls downhill treatment and receives his pink slip in the AM.

Pick: Ravens crush the Jags 31-6. Ravens cover easily and the game goes under due to the Jags inefficient offensive output.

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Comments
4 Responses to “Monday Night Football: Ravens at Jaguars”
  1. IanBlanchard says:

    Good read Jim. I love the Ravens here, how can you not?

  2. brief22 says:

    Great post man! I wish that MNF would get better games on their schedule, though…

  3. george joy says:

    I Figured the same thing you did, but Jon Gruden has been preaching all day ‘ TRAP GAME’. Ray Lewis said no trap game an i agreed with him, after all hes playing an knows not to fall for it. Broke even for week,but have that sick feeling i could have had a big weekend an top it off with a nice eazy Monday nite win. nothings eazy in the nfl. well next week should be more predictable,but nothings eazy .

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