Last Sunday, the Ravens beat the Saints in Baltimore, 30-24. The Saints opened the scoring with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees to Jimmy Graham. This Saints drive made it seem like it was going to be another long day for the Ravens defense, but they responded well to the immediate adversity. The Ravens offense also responded well, as Joe Flacco dumped it to Ed Dickson, who avoided some tackles to get into the end zone for the tying score. The second quarter belonged to Ray Rice's many talents. First, he ran for a 10-yard touchdown to give the Ravens the lead. Then, Joe Flacco threw a perfect pass to Rice in the end zone for another score. At the end of the second half, the Ravens defense allowed a Saints score on another pass to Graham to make it a one possession game. The score was 24-17 after the third quarter when Cundiff and Garrett Hartley exchanged field goals. In the fourth, the Saints drove down the field, and on third and goal, Drew Brees threw to Marques Colston, who tipped it up into the air, where it was caught by Lance Moore to tie up the game at 24. On their next drive, Billy Cundiff hit another field goal, giving the Saints the ball back down by three. On fourth down deep in their own territory, Brees' pass was tipped and picked by Cory Redding. The Ravens added another field goal for extra effect and took home a good team victory.
Player of the Game: Ravens RB Ray Rice-153 rushing yards, 80 receiving yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 1 receiving touchdown
Next week, the Ravens will travel to Cleveland to face the 5-9 Browns. If the Ravens win this game, they clinch a playoff berth. These two teams met in Week 3, with the Ravens getting a 24-17 win. Browns RB Peyton Hillis broke out in that game, running all over the Ravens for 144 yards. Expect Ray Lewis and his men to want serious revenge for letting that outbreak happen. Hillis is the main weapon for that Cleveland offense, so containing him is a major step in getting an important win. In that Week 3 matchup, the Browns gave up three touchdowns to Anquan Boldin, who has been a non-factor in the past few weeks. I wouldn't be surprised if Flacco remembers that game, and brings Boldin back into the action on Sunday. But the Browns secondary has improved over the year, with rookies T.J. Ward and Joe Haden leading the way. Joe Flacco will look to tear apart that secondary in order to improve to 6-0 career against the Browns. Flacco could be getting back Todd Heap, his favorite target, for Sunday's game. Heap practiced all week, but is still listed as questionable. In a better game than people think, I have the Ravens winning, 23-13.
Key Matchups for Ravens at Browns
Ravens LB Ray Lewis vs. Browns RB Peyton Hillis Edge: Lewis
Ravens DE Cory Redding vs. Browns LT Joe Thomas Edge: Thomas
Ravens WR Anquan Boldin vs. Browns CB Joe Haden Edge: Boldin
Ravens QB Joe Flacco vs. Browns S T.J. Ward Edge: Flacco
WR/KR David Reed-Head-OUT
S Tom Zbikowski-Back-OUT
CB Chris Carr-Illness-QST
TE Todd Heap-Thigh-QST
TE Robert Royal-Shoulder-DBT
LB Eric Alexander-Groin-QST
DE Kenyon Coleman-Knee-QST
DT Shaun Rogers-Ankle-QST
AFC North Standings
Team W L GB
Steelers 10 4 --
Ravens 10 4 1
Browns 5 9 5
Bengals 3 11 7
AFC North Outlook: The Steelers still control the tiebreaker, and with their win Thursday night over the Panthers, all they need to do is beat the Browns in Week 17 to win the division title. If the Ravens win out, and the Browns beat the Steelers, the Ravens win the division. If the Ravens lose this week to the Browns, the Steelers clinch the division.
That's it for this week's version of my Ravens Report, see you next week and Go Ravens!