A defense that must earn its way home in January

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Through a dozen games it has been the consistency of the Baltimore Ravens defense that has been remarkable as their play after bye week will open a great opportunity for top seeding in the NFL playoffs. Luke Jones and Nestor the discuss biggest concerns for the surging 9-3 AFC North leaders and the star players emerging on Mike Macdonald’s defense.


ravens, team, week, game, justin tucker, year, point, defense, mark andrews, offense, lamar, ball, play, players, win, good, kansas city, pittsburgh, miami, sunday night


Nestor J. Aparicio, Luke Jones

Nestor J. Aparicio  00:01

Welcome back, WN S T tassel Baltimore and Baltimore positive we have gotten a victory we got to buy. We’ve got some crab cake tours coming up this week Luke, Joe is going to talk some football with us as well. We’re gonna be doing the Maryland crab cake two or three times this week, because we’d sort of skipped out a little bit in October. But frankly, the crab cakes are pretty good. I’ve been having some delicious crab cakes. We’re going to be Coco’s on Wednesday. So I’m brought to you by our friends at the Maryland lottery have Raven scratch offs do at some point, I’m gonna get the scented gingerbread and peppermint scratch offs. I kind of want those all of a sudden, but still some big prizes left in the Ravens competition as well. We’ll be at Coco’s on Wednesday. We’re going to be a gertrudes at the BMA on Thursday. And then on Friday, we’re going to be in Hollywood casino in Perry Ville. All the brought to you by our friends at window nation 866 90 nation you buy today you get to free I should say they do doors too, because I need some doors Don and I’m talking about when donation folks. So fingers crossed 2024 It’d be wind donation and doors, a little bit of that as well. And our friends at Jiffy Lube, multi care, take care of my oil, your oil and so much more. Stop in and see Jiffy Lube right around the corner from you the way I am. So my friends over at Merritt Boulevard in Dundalk and have been for a long, long time. Look, Joe joins us now. Well take a nap go away for a little while, you know go dormant. Go go find a cave to hang out watch wrestling reruns for the rest of the week. The football is all over it all day, Thursday, all day, Friday, all day, Saturday, all night Sunday. Little bit more on Monday night and we get to exhale here and watch a couple pretty good football games this Sunday, four o’clock game eight o’clock game. Really good teams getting together. But at least from the Ravens perspective, beat up the LA chargers get on a plane come home, Harbaugh said you’re off till next Monday. I think as the guy who runs this joint, I think you’re off till next Monday. Are you not?

Luke Jones  01:52

We’ll see. I mean, you you kind of hope so. Right? Because you feel it. Any news? I mean, we’re past the trade deadline, you would feel like any news would be something off the field, you know, something along those lines, but you certainly would you certainly don’t want to be dealing with in the midst of such a promising season now at nine and three. So I mean, this is a great opportunity. We talked in our previous segment talking about the timing of the bye week and where this team is where they are health wise. You know, you’re gonna get Marlon Humphrey back home and even practice this past week. They just as they should they were they were being careful with a calf injury, you know, an injury that if you recall, a couple of weeks ago, there was some initial fear that it might be an Achilles. So, you know, you’re hoping that he’s ready to go. You’re hoping that the week off helps Ronnie Stanley, we’ve talked a lot about his play being so up and down. And, you know, obviously with all the health issues he’s had the last few years but by and large, you’ve got a healthy football team. You’ve got a first place football team. Yeah, we’ll see where they where they stand in the AFC after the bye week, you know, as you have so many three loss teams. And, you know, teams that are going to play this week could move ahead of the Ravens in terms of tiebreakers and things of that nature. But they’re in fantastic shape. And there’s plenty to be excited about. And yes, they have some things they have to work on. There’s no doubt about that. But that’s true of everyone in this conference. So it’s a good time to be a Ravens fan right now. I think I mean, I think this is a football team that with an absolute championship caliber defense that it’s better than it’s been probably since the days of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. You know, I don’t think I’m using hyperbole and saying that that’s how good this defense has been, how great it’s been for most of the year. So you have that you have a quarterback playing at an incredibly high level. And you have an offense that yeah, they’ve got to figure out the mark Andrews conundrum in terms of evolving as a passing game without him in the picture, at least until late in January. So but they have a lot of things work going for them, including the schedule or the schedule with the bye week knowing that the rest of the schedule is tough, so you’d like the rest and just where they are right now. They’ve got nine wins. Those are banked, regardless of how it looks Sunday night and how the offense didn’t look good. And Justin Tucker missed a field goal and John Harbaugh made some really puzzling decisions and Todd Monken didn’t call a great game. Their defense played great and they made the plays they needed to at the end to finish and that’s something they hadn’t done in those three losses with this game. Looking similar to that game. In some ways. Everyone was thinking the same thing in the fourth quarter, but the Ravens did the job and now got a chance to exhale and really gear up and rest up for what’s going to be a really challenging but a very exciting final five weeks of the regular season. Yeah,

Nestor J. Aparicio  04:40

Luca and watching these broadcasts and look man, I would be fighting through lax right now trying to get on a plane and fly eight hours home and figure out my Monday night and figure out the week. The team’s already back and all that but watching how ESPN portrays that NFL Network the weekend the foot All the balance of all of it, seeing them on Sunday night and not even watching the pregame show like I didn’t see I didn’t know Collins worth one even during the game to like a 50 because I was engrossed like everybody else in that Eagles bills game, watching that thing. It goes to overtime. It feels like it’s never going to end. Everybody’s getting rained on it’s freezing. I found a way to just Philly throwbacks. Yeah, that’s we thought fashion tweets here. Yes to that, by the way, no to the Stan Humphrey charge. By the way, you know, if they’re not going to break out their, you know, their lands all worse than their old Johnny use and charges deserve to lose for were bad threads on Sunday night. But the word I keep hearing, and this is like, I think I heard this on every broadcast. I think I heard Bradshaw say this word. I heard sim say this word. I know on Sunday night, I heard Garrett said Sam Garrett was pretty good for being a guy doesn’t do great. Jason Garrett. I liked him a lot on Sunday night football, he’s great. But even in the game, I thought he was a little awkward in the beginning of the game, once he got into the flow of talking strategy, and Coach mind and what’s going to happen next and all that he was outstanding. He would be a great game analyst, if that’s what he did. I don’t think it’s what he wanted to do. When he signed up. I think he wanted to go to a studio and sit in the studio and do that every Sunday night at least. I think he wants to coach again, right? I mean, hey, we know one thing if Ashada gets stolen, horrible. Nobody likes Jason Garrett. Jason Garrett might be the neck. Maybe I’ll get my press pass back if Garrett comes back, because he seems like he’s on the up and up on like our ball. But I would say this balance, balance. I don’t bring up a really lousy Van Halen album. But balance. is the thing. I keep hearing these other teams. No Eagles don’t blow anybody out. Eagles have had some injuries as well. Eagles might be the best team. Right. Kansas City you’d say on pedigree. Okay. San Francisco a lot to offer. You know, talking about the teams that are there. When people talk about the Ravens they really do speak in terms of balance. They have the superstar quarterback but they can’t figure out they really haven’t figured them out yet. They haven’t seen everything work the way it and they’re not going to with Mark Andrews unless Isaiah likely turns out to be the greatest thing that the offense hasn’t completely found itself the way we all feel like it could. And certainly five years with Greg Roman was always welcome gonna do more. What we’ll see, but the defense is playing at a level that they’re talking about the 2000 and ravens every time this defense gets talked about a re Lewis Henry Terrell Suggs, goose, you know, like all of that comes back up for the team. And then the part where John Harbaugh is a former special teams coach, he hates when you want to piss Harbaugh off calm, it’s former special team, he hates it. So, but he is it and because of that, because it’s soccer and because of whatever the cook to stout thing is and wherever they are with do for name returning kicks, you believe that they have a top 10 offense, a top five defense, a top eight specialty. And I’m just saying from that perspective, not every team feels like they’re going to come at you with all three phases of the game, plus the pedigree of horrible Plus, we’re now let’s see 12 games into the season and they haven’t been blown out the three they lost, they should have won. You could say a couple of them. They won, they might have lost but okay. I mean, they’ve shown up every single week, whether without Ronnie Stanley, whether without Marlon Humphrey with or without Mark Andrews with or without Justin Tucker making field goals he used to make, like they’re showing up every week in a way that this balanced part of them. I don’t know how that serves them on a cold day against whomever they’re going to play in January. But the balance part makes them really dangerous because they’re not really one dimensional. They can stink on offense, and the defense can still take the ball away and win a game.

Luke Jones  09:09

Yeah, and I mean, look, they were in 2019. I mean that the offense was the star right. And Lamar Jackson was unanimous historic MVP, right. But that defense, while statistically isn’t what this defense has been. That defense played really well down the stretch in that season. So that’s why everyone was so excited that year, that’s probably it’s going to be the lesson we’re going to be talking about as they get closer to January because you can have all this regular season success and if you roll out of bed on the wrong side on, you know, come divisional Saturday, or whatever it is. It can be over in three hours and the Ravens learned that lesson and some of the guys that are still left from that 2019 team know that all too well. But they are balanced and you know, I look at the rest of the AFC kids Sit, he’s got a really good defense, by the way. I mean, as much as we’ve talked about the Chiefs passing game, and specifically their issues at wide receiver, that, I mean, that’s that’s a better Kansas City defense than they’ve had, at any point during the Patrick mahomes era. Now we’ll see if that continues over the final five weeks, or six weeks for the chiefs. And also worth noting that they have a very manageable, much easier schedule on paper than the Ravens may take a look. They’re not facing, not sure if they face another team that currently has a winning record. Actually, not I don’t have it in front of me, but you look at the rest of the AFC, Miami put up the huge offensive numbers early on, I still think that’s a really good offense. They lost the you know, they lost Phillips on their defense this past Friday. So that’s a little bit of a question mark there and Miami hasn’t been anyone of talking about winning teams, you know, they’ve they’ve beaten up on bad teams. They know they kind of had it handed to them against some good teams this year, Jacksonville, another mystery. You know, they’ve, they’ve had some opportunities against, you know, San Francisco a couple of weeks ago and they got blown out. So you’re not really buying into them. We’ve talked so much about Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Indianapolis is a nice story. I think from a coaching standpoint, you give them credit, but no one’s afraid of Gardner Minshew. I mean, they just aren’t I mean, that’s I said in a previous conversation. I look at Houston, Denver buffalo right now who are eighth, ninth 10th in the AFC on the outside looking in, and I find those three teams to be much more formidable than Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Indianapolis on paper. But again 2019 On paper, the Ravens were a much better team than the Titans. And we saw what happens. So it really is a case of you have to show up every single week. And to the point that you made where the ravens, what do you think, you know, they’re nine and three, whether you think they should be 10, and 211, and 112. And oh, I mean, they’re not in three. Now those three games they lost, and they did things to lose football games, they deserved to lose those games. So that’s a talking point. I’m, I’m kind of past that at this point. But your point is absolutely spot on that they haven’t had a game where they really failed to show up. The closest I would say, a game where they failed to show up to me was the Pittsburgh game where that was a game that the Steelers did not play well in that football game for three quarters. And the ravens, specifically their wide receivers. If you remember, just sleepwalking I mean dropping past is just doing everything you could do to leave Pittsburgh in the game. And eventually the Steelers won it so credit them and it was a major knock on the ravens and how they played there. But they show up every week to your point. And there are very few teams in the league that you can say that about at this point. I mean, even Philadelphia, who I think you feel like you have to give the Eagles the nod. I mean, they just beat Kansas City, they beat Buffalo. And over time, as I’ve said to you record aside, I still think the bills are still one of the most talented teams in the league and they still have one of the best quarterbacks in the league and Josh Allen even if it’s not having his best season, but Josh Allen played his butt off on Sunday, and the Eagles still found a way ahead of Jake Elliott, it’s a 59 yard field goal Justin Tucker asked right there to send it in overtime. So you know, you get Philly credit, but even the eagles had a total clunker against the Jets. Right. So, you know, I think you look at the Ravens through that lens. And I don’t know if they’re the absolute best team, but boy, they’re on the really short list, you know, they’d certainly be in my top three or four, you know, in both conferences and I, I’ve said it for a while now no one is playing better than them. Second half of the Cleveland game aside for six or seven weeks now really, when you go back so during great position, and we’ll see what happens over the last five or six weeks as we’ve seen in the NFL. We saw over this last week, with burrow going down Mark Andrews going down. I mentioned Phillips for Miami. You know, it’s still the war of attrition. It’s still keeping your quarterback and keeping your very best players upright. I mean, the eagles they won, but their pro bowl right tackle Lane Johnson woke up with a bad growing on Sunday and ultimately didn’t play. So you’re just you’re crossing your fingers. That’s why I mean 17 game schedule. We’ve talked about it in passing a little bit, you know, compared to when they voted on it a couple years back, but you got that extra game. That’s an extra I think Peter King said it in his column on Monday, that that’s an extra 65 plays for offensive players or defensive players to potentially get hurt. You know, it really is a war of attrition. And to this point, the ravens, you know, and it begins with Lamar Jackson, and I think row Quan Smith is next day Dave, other than Mark Andrews, they’ve mostly been able to survive even the JK Dobbins injury, which at this point feels like it might as well been two years ago. Um, you know, with Keith Mitchell emerging the way he is, you know, feels like they’ve made up some of that upside, you know, maybe not all of it, but some of it. So they’re in a really good spot. But all it takes is a couple of injuries. I mean, the bills are a great example of this. Now, they lost a couple key players on their defense and their defense, no matter how well Josh Allen played on Sunday, I thought he played great football. Their defense couldn’t get a stop when it mattered. And I mean, you’re one or two players away from that happening any team so you know, that’s where you’re the Ravens you love having the late bye and everyone can feel fresh and and kind of reject rejuvenated as they get back at it next week and get ready for the LA Rams and then for tough games to close the season, but it’s always a little bit of a roulette game, right? That you’re hoping that it’s not your quarterback you’re hoping it’s not your top wide receiver, your top corner your top linebacker, I mean, it’s just just how the game works, especially with 17 games as opposed to 16 You’re just trying to keep as many healthy players on the field as you can and you keep yourself as healthy as you can be for January you give yourself a good chance.

Nestor J. Aparicio  16:10

Alright, so we get a buy. Rams, real quarterback, simple quarterback, Jacksonville guys wants some college titles, right? And then they’re gonna go to San Francisco and we see this, this gauntlet Miami and then Pittsburgh so we’re gonna see pretty much real teams. And so Kenny Pickett comes along. We’re not going to talk a lot this week. And I know you and Dennis are going after it on Thursday. On Sunday Sports voice you’ll hear that from three until five. Luke’s always a big part of that and then you’ll hear him on Friday and Saturday in various state parts here at wn St. If if you’re writing a piece this week on concerns as to what has to happen for them. I don’t me Mark Andrews miraculously appears in the AFC Championship game. What has to happen for them in your mind to get through which this is really a gauntlet this is this is sort of playoff football and they can split these games and get the 12 wins and be fine and be the three seater the two seater the whatever they’re gonna be. They don’t have to play great football the rest of the way. I think they need to be healthy. I think they can lose games and they lose Christmas lights if discovers Lamar comes out of it. And he’s okay and can play football in January. They’re fine. So I think we think about it differently than teams that have to go hand to hand combat. They’re getting into that. I don’t want to say Tony Dungy by area but I don’t know that anybody in the divisions catching them at this point, unless they get caught and that’s easy to do you trip at home against the Rams. So there’s an injury something happens you’re playing good teams, Jacksonville on the road. San Francisco on the road, Miami and these are good. These are playoff caliber teams. This it’s going to get it’s going to get heavier. I think my concern health more than anything, but really what the offense we’re still you know, they’re 93 We don’t want to hold the offense is I mean, he described the offense for me. I can’t who’s gonna run the ball this week? I don’t know who’s gonna catch it. I don’t know Beckham injured. Batemans on reliable, Aguilar zone is 14, you know, flowers, maybe we can get him the ball. But then who’s going to protect Lamar? I mean, this offensive line is going to be everything for them. And I think the Ronnie Stanley thing and the Morgan Moses, they they’re only gonna go as far as their offensive line is gonna allow Lamar to do that in an impressive fashion. If they’re gonna get in the phone booth and squeak out weird wins, which is certainly possible as well, because Lamar has Lamar late in the game. The offensive line is my concern, through all of this to say, how’s that going to hold up? Because that’s going to tell me a lot about Lamar is out the passing game in the running. Yeah. Yeah. And,

Luke Jones  18:52

and let’s be clear, I mean, this offensive line is regarded as one of the best in football. I mean, it is. And I think sometimes we have tunnel vision because we focus so closely on the Ravens. There aren’t many great offensive lines across the NFL, you know, everyone has a spot or two on their own line. It’s

Nestor J. Aparicio  19:09

problematic. I mean, that’s all just Kansas City in Cincinnati. The last five years is their offensive line. Right. That’s your Orlando Brown has been coming to the rescue. Right? Yeah, in

Luke Jones  19:18

Kansas City. I mean, they lost the Super Bowl because their entire offensive line was ravaged by injuries and Tampa Bay took advantage and, and they had Tom Brady, I mean, game set match. Right. We saw how that played out. But I think first of all, do I have any concerns on the defensive side of the ball? Not really. I think if there was one relative issue that they certainly cleaned up and were better with against the chargers, their run defense had been leaky in recent weeks and I think some of that again was by design against the Bengals and basically daring the Bengals to run the ball against them because they weren’t going to give up big plays which Mr. Chase over the top. So yeah, that’s that would be about the only thing with their D offense other than health is everyone, right? You’d say that about every team that’s in contention right now you got to stay healthy, or you need to get healthier in the case of some teams. So the defense, keep it going, right? Offensively, I think the offensive line, and I’ll say more specifically, I don’t have as much concern about Morgan, Moses, who’s, you know, he played really well against Cincinnati, for example, you know, he’s dealing with the shoulder Peck issue that he’s playing through. So you know, it’ll be good these next couple of weeks will be good for him. But I feel great about Linder balm. I feel really good about Kevin Zeitler. I feel fine about Morgan Moses. I’m concerned about the left side of the line more so with Stanley. Not that Stanley is a bad player now. But is he a $20 million tackle at this point? He’s just he’s not. And we’re seeing that. And I think you’re seeing at times where Todd Monken is kind of fighting against himself to put Patrick Ricard on the field to help in you know, to give them six man protections, rather than five man protections, and at times, you have to help outstanding. And look, let’s be clear, and let’s be fair to Ronnie Stanley, Khalil Max a heck of a still a heck of a player at this stage of his career. He’s having a great season, kind of a renaissance for him after the last couple years looking like he was a little more on the downside. So yeah, I don’t even I’m not even basing this solely on Sunday night. But, you know, some concerns there. And you know, John Simpsons at times has been good, other times, not so good. So the left side of the offensive line, it’s not a grave concern of mine. But if you’re asking me things that can get better things that can solidify things that, you know, they can fortify over the last five weeks. I mean, that’s certainly something to point to, and the offense in general, I will say this, you made mention of, you know, their identity, and who’s going to get the ball and where’s the mark gonna throw it to? In some ways, that’s not always a bad thing from the standpoint of, if you don’t have these major tendencies, or if defenses have to account for more than one back running different types of schemes, you know, whether you’re talking to outside zone, whatever it is, you know, I think Keaton Mitchell is such an X factor for them in terms of giving them a little more home run ability that Gus Edwards just doesn’t give them. And Gus Edwards is great at what he does, but he’s not a home run hitter as a running back. So you know, I’m really intrigued to see how that combination that thunder and lightning combo. How that develops over these last five weeks. Do we see more Keith Mitchell, do we see Gus Edwards slide into a little more of a situational role than he’s been then? He was the first half of the season. And, you know, I mean, he got to the the Andrews conundrum. I mean, it’s a problem, you know, that you are so used to having Mark, Mark Andrews be Lamar safety net. And again, it’d be the same thing. If Travis Kelce. You know, if it news came out Monday or Tuesday to Travis Kelce, he’s done for the year. I mean, Kansas City would be, especially considering their wide receiver position, which is worse off than the Ravens at this point, which is crazy. When you think about the history of the Ravens at that position. Yeah, they’ve been Patrick mahomes would be in big trouble in terms of not having any one to rely on. So you know it. They’ve got to figure that out, and they’ve got to see how that’s going to evolve and flowers already was a big part of what they’re doing. So I think yeah, if you’re Todd Monken you’re continuing to find creative ways to get him the ball as they did late on Sunday night. You know, I want to continue to see them do that but it really is a matter of I say likely you need to step up Rashad Bateman you need to step up Odell Beckham, whatever it is the last three or four weeks that’s had you looking more explosive and healthier. bottle that up if that means you were only gonna play a 25 snaps every week then so be it, you know, because those 25 snaps can be more productive in the same way that you think of a situational pass rusher who doesn’t play 50 snaps a game but gives you 25 Great snaps. So you know that they’ve got to figure that out, you know that and certainly for Lamar, he’s he’s been so accustomed to having Andrews and one other guy kind of be the guys that he focuses in on and that was especially true with Greg Romans offense, but it’s still remained true this year. I mean, it was Andrews and say flowers and then you’d mix in a little bit of, you know, Bateman here and there, Aguilar here and they’re back home here and there. So they’ve got to figure out who that more consistent guy to emerge is going to be. Maybe it still ends up being Isaiah likely. But if it is, that means a flowers need more from him. And you need more from the other wide receivers. So one. Yeah, that was a long explanation for you know, I don’t think they have a fatal like there’s not this grave concern that I have about this football team in the way that a year ago at this time. I was telling you why. I don’t think their wide receivers are good enough for them to win a Super Bowl. And obviously Lamar got hurt and then that question became elementary because the season was over. Anyway, for all intents and purposes, but, you know, this football team is fantastic defensively. They are very good and at times great offensively, but they haven’t been as consistent there. But still, I mean, look at this. The numbers don’t lie. I mean, look at the run of 30 plus point games. They were just on here recently, you know, until Sunday night, you know, they had scored 30 Plus in five straight games. I mean, by the way, scoring is down around the NFL this year. So you think about that their offense is in great shape. I mean, this has been a top five top six, top seven offense at worst, you know, and, yeah, it could be more consistent. That’s a good thing, by the way, in terms of thinking upside and this team trying to reach its ceiling. So and you know, yeah, I get it. Justin Tucker missed a field goal on Sunday night. It’s Justin Tucker having his best season. No, that was his first Miss inside 50 yards all year long. Of the 20 potential problems this football team could have, because of injuries or other things that could pop up that you wouldn’t even be thinking about right now. Justin Tucker, still not anywhere close to being high on that list? I you know, I? Well, if

Nestor J. Aparicio  26:11

he pulled a hamstring, it would really screw the seasonal question. Right? He’s right. And him kicking, making 44 yard field goes automatic is important. And we saw the bills missed a couple of field goals early in the game and cost them a game. I mean, that’s the way it’s going to be tight. If he’s missing field goals against the 40 Niners they might lose.

Luke Jones  26:29

Yeah. But that’s, you know, you say that of any team that has a kicker they think is good. And then suddenly he misses one. I mean, you know, he missed one. I I’m not I don’t think it’s any indictment. I think even his, what he has for Mrs. Beyond 50 yards, all but one or two of like two of those were like 5859 Plus, you know, they were really long field goals. He misses one like that. That’s a reminder that he is human, you know, so I’m not overly

Nestor J. Aparicio  27:01

cool. So reminder that most teams don’t attempt those, especially this time of the year as the weather breaks down. Oh,

Luke Jones  27:06

yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So I mean, again, I don’t have any concerns about Justin Tucker. And I know, it was jarring to see him lose. I’ll be honest with you. And I know some people right now will probably disagree with me, because Oh, you guys with your analytics, I would have much rather gone forward on that fourth down, you know, considering the situation when there was three minutes to go forth. And one. I mean, that was I’ll say this much. The Ravens have two years ago, three years ago, four years ago, they weren’t even thinking about kicking a field goal there. They were going for it there. And John Harbaugh kicked there. And they missed. So yeah, it happens. But, you know, if you’re asking, you know, again, going back to your original premise, as far as what concerns me about this football team right now? Not much. That sounds kind of flippant. What concerns me is, as you pointed out health which applies to any team, and they do have a challenging schedule here. I mean, I’m not overly concerned about the LA Rams, but to your point, they do have Matthew Stafford, and they do have good wide receivers, and they do still have some good players on that football team. And everyone thought the Rams were going to be god awful, and they’ve competed. And they are better than I think a lot of people expected them to be in 2023. But ravens are playing at home. It’s a one o’clock start against the West Coast team. You know, I’m picking the Ravens away. And right now, spoiler alert, I’m picking them to win that game. But those last four games I mean, and considering Kansas City schedule, in terms of the number one seed and vying for that, and I’ll even say this much and I’ve spent plenty of time dissing the Steelers and the browns. Take a look at their scat remaining schedules compared to the Ravens now, miles Garrett came away with a shoulder issue out of Sunday’s game, that would completely change the complexion of the Browns defense. Pittsburgh, you know, they, they they went over 400 yards of offense. So everyone’s I you know that they look better, but they still didn’t score a lot of points. But look at the Steelers schedule compared to the Ravens schedule and just, you know, do the math, you know, Ravens have to take care of business here over these last five games when they come out of the buy. And it’s gonna be easier said than done. Not so much. I’m not as concerned about the North. They’re gonna win this division. I have full confidence that they’re going to win this division short of Lamar Jackson getting hurt in the first quarter against the Rams. I mean, that’s just where I am right now. Still, they might still be able to win it with Tyler Huntley. I mean, I just Pittsburgh and Cleveland are that challenged in Cincinnati he’s totally done at this point. But you want to get that number one seed if you can, I mean that they’re in the they’re in the top spot going into the buy, but look at Kansas City schedule remaining, compared to the Ravens chiefs have a much easier path there. So ravens gonna have to play at a really high level and at Jacksonville is gonna be tough. I mean, that’s a Jags team that just got a big win in Houston against a Texas team that was playing well. Trevor Lawrence is not as consistent as he’d like to be. But Raven saw firsthand what kind of player he can be in the fourth quarter in Jacksonville last year, we remember what happened against a good defense defense that at that point in the season was playing at a pretty high level. And he did that at San Francisco and the 40, Niners there are a lot of people quite eager to bury them when they had some of their best players heard a few weeks ago, and they’ve looked like the one of the two or three best teams in football since getting those guys back I mean, they’ve they’ve looked really good and by the way, Brock Purdy is better than people give him credit for. I get it Shanahan system. I get that, but he’s having a really good year and watch him play on a week by week basis. He’s not the best in the league. I’m not not suggesting that. But it’s playing at a high level. And that’s another team like the Ravens balance really good on both sides of the football. Great on both sides of the football. So, you know, I you kind of look at how this plays out. Home against Miami, the weather is going to be fascinating for that one, Nestor. I mean, that’s New Year’s Eve. What’s the weather gonna be like? And how does that affect Miami’s desire to throw the ball although they can run the ball too. So that’ll be fun. And Pittsburgh week 18? Who the heck knows? I get it. It’s Kenny pick it I get it. It’s an app Steelers offense when all they do is win. And

Nestor J. Aparicio  31:24

they’ve beaten the Ravens the last couple years. So until Flacco run in the Browns makes this thing even more delicious on by week like I I don’t know what to expect. I don’t expect much like you. But I do expect that he’s taken over a team. That’s a playoff caliber team defensively. And if he was ever he didn’t have players in Denver, he didn’t have players in New York like, like, I don’t know that he has players on his offense. But certainly, it adds some color to this, you know, and I did think he was 41. He’s only 39. So he could still do I

Luke Jones  31:58

think I’ll say this much. And I’ll say this with some irony because Amari Cooper is on one of my fantasy football teams who you know, since Watson’s gone down and DTR trying to throw in the football. It hasn’t gone well. But you got Amari Cooper, assuming he’s healthy, and I’ve gotten joku. I mean, can Flacco deliver the ball to those guys more efficiently than the rookie quarterback or PJ Walker have? You know if you can do that, then the Browns become a little more interesting. But I mean, the Ravens don’t play them of course until potentially at potential January matchups. So but you know, it’s this is a this final stretch of the schedule. If we’re talking about the Ravens on January 10. If I’m going to Owings Mills and neural nearby week, and they’re having a couple of light workouts, and then they’re having the weekend off wildcard weekend, this team will absolutely earn it though there will be no doubt about that, because you look at their final schedule, compared to just Kansas City. Forget about Jacksonville, Miami for a second, just look at Kansas City because they’re the Champs there. They’re the team that has the cache, they’re the team that hit warrants that kind of respect. You look at their schedule compared to the Ravens the rest of the way ravens are the number one seed they will absolutely earn it and whether it’s going for and one, whatever it is, if they they went out who knows? Not saying that I think that’s going to happen, but if they do, boy, there’s gonna be a lot of excitement about the potential for this football team and in the month of January, because it’s definitely it’s not going to be handed to them, they’re gonna have to go take it with this remaining schedule that they’re gonna have coming out of the by, you

Nestor J. Aparicio  33:36

won’t beat Harbaugh up on anything Sunday night or not. It certainly wasn’t his best effort. But the one thing I’ll say about him at this point, they get out of bed 12 in a row and they’ve rolled out to play 12 games in a row. And whatever the spy week is at him getting the team ready and where they are with Mike MacDonald’s genius and the players in the chess pieces he has in his defense and so multiple. It was not a stellar night for him. I don’t know that it’s been a stellar season for him to some degree, right. And every time I see the cost down on the sideline, he’s interacting with the cost on the sideline, he’s talking to the general manager in the middle of the game and the cameras catch. Dude, I they threw me out right at the right time, because I would have real questions for them, including who they’re sending down to Annapolis to get a couple 100 million dollars more stadium money and acting like they’re not interested in it.

Luke Jones  34:26

Well, going back to horrible, it was a bad night for hardball. There’s this tendency and look, I’m going to stick up for him a little bit here. Not a little bit. I’ll stick up for a period because of what we just said a few minutes ago, this team shows up and is ready to play and is in every game. Even though these few games that they’ve lost. It’s not as though they lost by three touchdowns. I mean, steam hasn’t trailed by two scores all year Nesta. I mean, that that thought entered my head when the Chargers are up three nothing in the first quarter and had the ball back. They have not trailed by too soon. horses come

Nestor J. Aparicio  35:01

back when they’re down 11 points in the fourth? Well, we don’t know, because he didn’t have to do it because

Luke Jones  35:06

it did. And, you know, that’ll be a question come January because we talked about that in 2019. We talked about that. And 20. We talked about

Nestor J. Aparicio  35:14

fall behind 14 to nothing. Yeah. On a cold day.

Luke Jones  35:20

Anyone, right, sure. But they haven’t been in that position. And that’s, that’s a testament to the team. That’s a testament to the coaching staff and to John Harbaugh, specifically, but it was a rough night for him. I mean, I know the exact quote, he was asked about it after the game. His quote, I’ll say this, we had trouble with the down in distance and what the spots were pretty much the whole game just understanding what it was going to be the Lamar run, I’d say no, we can see that one it looked did look short to us. I disagree with him there. But fine, you know that that was his explanation. The Aguilar one, which, by the way, that horrendous spot on that, I mean, criminally bad spot on the Aguilar catch and run that he had a first down by a yard and a half. I don’t know what they were looking at. But John said, we thought it was a first down in all honesty, we thought it was ruled first down, and we thought it was a first down. It wasn’t until after the next play that we realized it was short. You know, with that, keep in mind, they were going up to the line. They’re trying to use tempo on this, those scenarios, but someone has to have more awareness there. And I get it. The second one, they still got a first down, you know, what a player to later.

Nestor J. Aparicio  36:24

So it didn’t challenge he challenged the lateral, it was in front of him. Like, literally when the when the highlight I almost took a picture of and put it up online just to be a dick. Because I’m like, Dude, it happened in front of you. The ball went backwards. It was obviously it was obviously I’m

Luke Jones  36:43

gonna see I’m gonna just I’m gonna disagree with you on that one. I and this is where context matters. Those two obvious challenges and full disclosure, let’s, let’s give the disclaimer here. Challenging the spot of the ball is typically something that doesn’t have a high success rate. But both of those were so obvious, they would have been overturned. For me where I laugh is not that he challenged that that was a high leverage situation. And it wasn’t clearly a lateral. But I think it was it was clear, you know, when you saw it, it wasn’t a forward pass. Right? At the very least it was straight, a straight line, which that is legal. You know, as long as it’s not going backwards, you

Nestor J. Aparicio  37:25

see, and you never see ever, ever. I don’t see it done in Pop Warner, right. It doesn’t happen anywhere ever. When a college football game, nobody does that play. And it’s so weird to like, a ball went backwards, you can get away with that. I mean, if you’re, you’re crazy enough to throw the ball backwards in the guy drops the ball, and then somebody picks it up runs with it.

Luke Jones  37:42

I mean, that that’s part of it. It’s such an awkward play, but I never thought it was forward. I mean, like in real time, it never never occurred to me that that’s homerun throwback, which is another game I was at Baba, which a lot of people say was forward back when the forward pass. Yes. But you also have to remember and with super slow mo and high definition coming in, in vogue the last 20 years, so many laterals in the past because you have to remember the physics you have to players running in motion, the ball was in motion as you lateral it. There are times where it looks like a lateral but then you see it, you slow it down and you see it in real time. It’s actually a forward pass. I did not have a problem with that challenge itself. If it had followed two successful challenges on the spot of the ball that were very obvious ones that you should challenge, because it was a high leverage situation. It’s the same way that we talked about this early in the fourth quarter where you know if your opponent completes a five yard pass, and it’s incomplete, but it’s kind of inconsequential to the game situation. You say? That’s not the juice isn’t really worth the squeeze. And that’s funny because challenger

Nestor J. Aparicio  38:53

first, the first drive and I watched him watch football. I don’t know what game was so many challenges first drive five yard NCF again, and I’m like, What do you challenge in that for early in the game I don’t remember was was goofy. Right?


Exactly. So and that’s that’s my point in not having a problem with him challenging that given its impact on the leverage of the game and win probability and that spot and considering the down in distance and where the scoreboard was, but it was just, it was hilarious that he challenged that one. After not challenging. Those two obvious spot of the ball. I thought the hilarious thing is when they pulled off the camera to the top and look down hardball was literally standing where the ball was and the ball clearly went not forward, backward. And it was very obvious when he threw the ball that he was throwing it back when he knew he could look down the hash and say the balls gotta go. I didn’t think it was.

Nestor J. Aparicio  39:54

I never it was awkward. It was weird. It never looked illegal to me. And if I were staying Anything on the field? I guess my point is hardball had the best view anybody in the stadium he was on the line. And he still challenged at last. And I thought to myself, not good, John, not and not good. I should maybe I should text John, but not good. And so he’s not a grading game. In over 15 years of this, he’s great at getting the team ready. He’s great at the jock, autocracy of all of it. And, you know, dealing with the things and smiling and talking about God and making everybody feel good. But in the game, he is not great. He never has been great. And that’s, that’s a weird thing that he doesn’t want more help. Because it’s very obvious. He just sort of reaches into his sock and throat, that he’s not getting the right kind of guidance to your point, that there’s not an eye in the sky, yelling down his father, some, you know, literally put your dad up there and let him yell, because you listen, your father, I don’t know who else he listened to. Because it’s John, right? I mean, anybody knows John and listen, anybody but John, but like, have somebody beep you and say, throw the flag or don’t throw the flag, because over the course of time, he hasn’t been great with the the moment that it happens. And I don’t know that he’s getting the proper help. And I think it’s weird that the cost is down on the sideline, trying to sort of gauge and I’m sure if Eric and I showed up on a plane together and like we used to and flew together, he would say to me, I’m down there because I want to get inside of John’s mind to see what he’s dealing with. Because I’ve never been a coach. I’ve never been, you know, I’ve never been like I can hear Eric saying that. But 1012 weeks into this the fact that the general manager standing five feet from the coach, it’s just weird to me. And and these challenges that are right or wrong or do or don’t. And hardball is talking to the general manager under the plate. It just all of it they they need a grown up Ozzie somebody upstairs that says, John that needs somebody that’s on it some Matt Weiss. They, you know,

Luke Jones  42:00

they do have people I mean, every team has people upstairs, but it’s not working, whatever it is that no, I agree with you. I agree. Again, I had no problem with that challenge. It was third and 17. Late in the late in the third quarter. It’s a 10 point game. Again, that’s a situation where and I’ll go back and say it because of the physics because of slowing the ball down when you’re laddering the ball while you’re in movement, there have been plenty of laterals over time that when you slow it down, actually or forward passes, because you look at the trajectory of the ball. Now, I agree with you, when I saw it in real time, I thought it was probably okay. But probably okay to me, in a third and 17 situation, when you have a 10 point lead with two minutes ago, at the end of the third quarter, I didn’t really have a major problem with him challenging that. Even if he thought you know what, this might only be a 25% chance of getting overturned, but it’s worth it. But it is crazy through the lens of knowing that they didn’t challenge those other two spots, and where was the breakdown there. And again, it’s something with the operation. There’s a, you know, some hiccup there, in terms of I get it, you’re trying to use tempo and some of those scenarios where you get up to the line and you want to go into huddle, prevent the other team from substituting so I understand where it’s coming from. But when you have two that were very clearly first downs, and you didn’t challenge either one of them. But then you challenge that play, which, again, was not I agree with you that it wasn’t a high percentage. I’m just saying from a game leverage standpoint, I think it was worth it. Because, you know, that was the difference of the Chargers getting into ravens territory and having a chance to score a touchdown compared to punting. Yeah, so I understood it. But yeah, the juxtaposition of those, and I’ll go back to kicking the field goal fourth and 113 10 With just over three minutes to go. I mean, even if Justin Tucker makes that you’re still only up six, you’re still in a position that a touchdown beat you know that to me, that would have been the spot to be aggressive to try to get the first down you know, not with a direct snap to Gus Edwards, mind you which I did not like that play call in the second quarter. But that was the spot where I thought they got a little too conservative and Tucker ends up missing the field goal. But all in all, came back to their defense played at a championship level. And even on a night when their coaching staff talking, John Harbaugh and Todd Monken had off nights. Mike McDonald and the defense boy they they just rose to the occasion time and time and time again. And that’s the biggest reason why they’re sitting there now at nine and three going into the bye week

Nestor J. Aparicio  44:37

nine and three and we’re using it to eat crab cakes all week long. It’s the Maryland crab cake tours out on the road brought to you by the Maryland lottery I have some rabid scratch offs to give away all week long in the next week as well. Our friends at window nation are wearing the shirt 866 90 nation you buy two and you get two free 0% financing and doors as well as our friends at Jiffy Lube multi care always take care of your vehicle have been for a long, long time, my friends over or Boulevard take care of me but there’s a Jiffy Lube right around the corner from you. We’re at Coco’s on Wednesday. When Thursday we’re gertrudes at the BMA with Dan Rodricks. Then on Friday, we’re going to do stadiums for Dummies during this five week with a guy who’s not a dummy at all. Tom Kelso, who was the former state at Merrill stadium authority chairman, who knows things and he has information for citizens for taxpayers. I’m sharing this information because you have billionaire owners taking advantage of a neophyte governor and a Maryland stadium authority and trying to get the Maryland stadium authority disbanded. Because John Angeles once wants this, it’s it’s an awful thing. I’m talking about it. It’s very, very important to the citizens and very important to the future downtown. So I’m Baltimore positive. I’m going to be on that Friday. So I’m brought to you by the Maryland lottery. When donation and our friends at Jiffy Lube multi care I am Nestor he is Luke. He’s got the week off leave them alone at Baltimore low. We are wn st am 1570, Towson Baltimore. And we never stop talking. All those Orioles offseason moves which we’ll get to next

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