It’s pretty common knowledge that the Ravens need to win this game to stay alive. It’s so surprising that even with the way they’ve played this whole season, they could still reach the playoffs without that much craziness happening. Today’s obstacle is the Bears, led by Jay “Turnover” Cutler. Matt Forte, who was poised to have a huge output his sophomore season, has been nothing special, and fast-as-lightning Devin Hester is likely out today. Add their crazy journey to Baltimore to their struggles, and you have a “team in turmoil”, as some analysts might like to say. Oddly enough, with all of these twists and turns, Lovie Smith has a new contract in Chicago. The Ravens will be missing some key players, and will need to adapt to the snow on the field, and probably a lesser crowd than usual.
Jay Cutler vs Ravens’ Secondary: Cutler is leading the NFL in interceptions thrown, and is known to have the occasional fumble as well. The Ravens’ secondary has been dominated by quarterbacks that have less talent than Cutler, so if Cutler makes good decisions, he could have some success. If not, it might be another long day for the Bears.
Ravens O-Line vs Bears Front 7: Jared Gaither is out for today’s game. That means Michael Oher will be on the left side of the line, somewhere where his offense isn’t used to having him. The communication between quarterback and lineman, along with added blockers like tight ends and fullbacks, will be key. A few sacks can ruin the Ravens’ offensive progress in any part of the game.
As of right now, following the two in-week games, the Ravens own the #6 seed in the AFC, meaning if they win out, they’re in. The matchup against the Bears makes it a little tricky. If the Ravens win, and move to 8-6, and the Dolphins also win and move to 8-6, the Dolphins will have an equal conference record, but if my conclusions are correct, the Ravens will own the tiebreaker because of record against common opponents.
OUT: Jared Gaither (T, BAL), Brandon McKinney (DT, BAL)
DOUBTFUL: Mark Clayton (WR, BAL), Devin Hester (WR, CHI)
QUESTIONABLE: K.J. Gerard (S, BAL), Tavares Gooden (LB, BAL), Jarret Johnson(LB, BAL), Haloti Ngata (DT, BAL), Ed Reed (S, BAL), Kelley Washington (WR, BAL), L.J. Smith (TE, BAL), Zach Bowman (CB, CHI), Tommie Harris (DT, CHI), Orlando Pace (T, CHI), Charles Tillman (CB, CHI)
PROBABLE: Matt Birk (C, BAL), Derrick Mason (WR, BAL), Terrell Suggs (LB, BAL)
The Ravens should win this one, but the snow will make it a sloppy game. 17-3, Ravens.