coleryan Posts:12022 Followers:20
On 11/11/2013 04:27 PM in NFL

Baltimore Ravens at Chicago Bears: Preview and Pick

Baltimore Ravens at Chicago Bears: Preview and Pick

The Baltimore Ravens got back into the playoff hunt last week by taking down the Cincinnati Bengals in an overtime game. Now they head back out on the road against another team eager to accumulate some wins and get into the playoff race and that is the Chicago Bears. The Bears barley lost against the Detroit Lions, but the biggest concern for this team is the health of their quarterback Jay Cutler.

The Baltimore Ravens at Chicago Bears Odds

The opening NFL point spread for this game will change based on the status of the quarterback for the Bears. If the Bears have Cutler under center the point spread will adjust accordingly as opposed to if Josh McCown is calling the shots for the Bears. Make sure to check the latest line as it is released leading up to kickoff at your top rated online sportsbook.

The Ravens won, despite the play of Joe Flacco. Flacco was 0-for-7 with an interception on throws at least 15 yards downfield, the most deep attempts without a completion Flacco has had in his career. Flacco had his worst downfield game of what has been a down season for the deep ball- his 32.1 completion percentage on throws at least 15 yards downfield ranks 30th among qualified quarterbacks.

Joe Flacco has yet to record a touchdown pass on a throw 20-plus yards downfield (40 attempts). Flacco had four such touchdowns in the 2012 postseason (29 attempts). The Bears will be able to play closer to the line of scrimmage, armed with this information and pressure Flacco. If the Bear offense can step up to the plate, they can get the win at home.

The latest football betting trends for this game reveal some great betting angles for this game. Baltimore is 1-4 straight up in its last 5 games on the road and 1-4 against the spread (ATS) in its last 5 games on the road. Baltimore is 2-4 straight up in its last 6 games overall and the total has gone under in 6 of Baltimore's last 8 games. Chicago is 2-4 straight up in its last 6 games and 1-5 ATS in its last 6 games. Chicago is 0-4-1 ATS in its last 5 games at home and 2-5 ATS in its last 7 games when playing Baltimore. The total has gone under in 5 of Baltimore's last 6 games when playing Chicago and the total has gone OVER in 8 of Chicago's last 11 games.

Baltimore Ravens at Chicago Bears Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 6-4-0
coleryan Posts:12022 Followers:20
11/12/2013 04:01 PM

It appears that Bears quarterback Jay Cutler will be unable to play in Sunday's home game against the Baltimore Ravens due to a high ankle sprain.

Cutler sustained the injury in Sunday's loss to the Lions when he was hit by Detroit linebacker Stephen Tulloch while completing a 12-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery with 2:56 left in the first half.

Jay Cutler passed for 250 yards with one touchdown and one interception Sunday against the Lions.
Bears coach Marc Trestman said Monday that Cutler's status is "week to week, and it certainly won't be this week," meaning that backup Josh McCown likely will start against the Ravens.

While the injury limited his mobility, Cutler remained in Sunday's contest until being removed with 2:17 to play after it was determined that he couldn't move around well enough to operate a two-minute drill.

The Bears stressed that the torn groin muscle that Cutler suffered Oct. 20 in a loss to the Redskins was unrelated to the ankle injury and didn't affect him against the Lions.

"He's got a high ankle sprain," Trestman said Monday. "He got it rolled on. They taped him up and there was no indication from the trainers that there would be any further injury. I asked them if the groin was an issue at all and they didn't feel that [it] was. They told me that even today, if he hadn't rolled up the ankle he would have been able to play today."

Cutler completed 21 of 40 passes for 250 yards with one touchdown, one interception and a 69.8 passer rating. He was replaced after awkwardly skipping a pass to a wide-open Jeffery along the left sideline with 5:41 left in the game.

On Monday, Trestman defended his decision to keep Cutler in for most of the second half, pointing to a handful of pinpoint passes he threw, including two to Jeffery. The receiver dropped the first one over the middle and appeared to score a 14-yard touchdown on the second, but the call was reversed after a replay review showed that Jeffery bobbled the ball after hitting the ground.

"It's very tough to pull your starting quarterback out when he's throwing the ball with velocity, when he's hitting his receivers, and he's able to move in the pocket and complete a throwing motion, and all those three indications confirmed with me that I should keep him in there," Trestman said. "I know we sacrificed his ability to move around and run, but that was the case [beginning late in the first half]. So I feel good about what we decided to do with him."

Trestman was asked what percentage Cutler has to be health-wise to be a better option than McCown.

"I can't answer that," Trestman said. "I can't do that through mathematics. It's just a feel thing. Are we moving the football team? The answer to that is yes. We were moving the football team.

"It's not percentages. He's our starting quarterback. He's our leader. If it's in the best interest of the football team and he can move the team and not hurt himself or the team, we want him to be in there and he wants to be in there.

"These things come up periodically in the course of seasons and in games with your starting quarterback, so you've got to make those decisions and they're not easy ones. But there's no regrets here."

On McCown's only possession, he capped a 10-play, 74-yard scoring drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall with :40 remaining, drawing the Bears to within 21-19. But Matt Forte was stuffed on the subsequent two-point conversion.

Playing in place of the injured Cutler the last three games, McCown has completed 42 of 70 passes for 538 yards with four touchdowns, no interceptions and a stellar 103.2 passer rating.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 6-4-0
coleryan Posts:12022 Followers:20
11/12/2013 04:02 PM

The injury-depleted Bears defense took another significant hit Sunday when cornerback Charles Tillman sustained a torn right triceps in the Bears' 21-19 loss to the Lions.

The 11-year veteran has been placed on injured reserve with the designation to return, meaning that he will be eligible to practice in six weeks and can return to game action in eight weeks. As a result, Tillman will miss the rest of the regular season but could come back for the playoffs.

Charles Tillman was selected to the Pro Bowl each of the past two seasons.

Tillman told reporters Monday at Halas Hall that he was injured at some point in the second half while defending Lions star receiver Calvin Johnson.

"I don't know exactly what play," Tillman said. "I just remember shoving Calvin on one play and I felt something kind of strain, perhaps tear. I just felt a sharp pain."

Tillman revealed that the injury was initially diagnosed as a tear, but it's still being evaluated. He plans to seek a second opinion, but doesn't think he will need surgery.

Tillman has missed only seven games over the last nine seasons with injuries, starting all 136 contests he's appeared in. He sat out a Thursday night win over the Giants Oct. 10 with a right knee injury, snapping a streak of 53 consecutive games played.

"I'm definitely sad," Tillman said. "This team has a lot of potential. The fact that I'm no longer a part of that to help this team further succeed, that's the part that hurts. My role right now is to be the biggest cheerleader and supporter on the sideline."

While Tillman detests the idea of not being able to play, he intends to help defensive backs coach Jon Hoke and assistant Chris Harris as much as possible during games.

"If they need something or I see something, they have an extra set of eyes and some experience on the sidelines with them," Tillman said. "I'm not fond of coaching, but I guess I'm being thrown into it. I'm willing to help out and do my part."

Tillman will be replaced by Zack Bowman, a sixth-year pro who has appeared in 66 games with 17 starts in six seasons with the Bears. In his only year as a regular starter in 2009, Bowman led the team with six interceptions.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 6-4-0
coleryan Posts:12022 Followers:20
11/13/2013 03:09 PM

Coming off of a defy-all-odds Super Bowl run, the Baltimore Ravens quest to defend their title hasn’t quite gone as planned.

Nobody said it would be easy. In fact, no defending Super Bowl Champion other than the 2004 New England Patriots has even won a playoff game the following year.

The assumption was the Ravens were different. But, are they headed in the same disappointing direction?

Since arriving in 2008, the tandem of head coach John Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco has won a playoff game every year. Couple this on-field chemistry with a front office adept at procuring young talent via the draft, and the Ravens were seemingly bulletproof.

In professional sports, change is inevitable. Some by choice, some by circumstance. The Ravens were braced for retiring players – Ray Lewis and Matt Birk – and the inevitable vulturing of their roster in free agency. In all, they lost eight starters – nine if you include Dennis Pitta who was lost in training camp – from last year’s team.

The miscalculation in their assumed ability to absorb this radical roster turnover was the amount of on-field experience they lost in the process. Replacing older talent with younger talent is commonplace, but replacing figurative coaches on the field is a unique challenge.

A key figure that was brought back to fill part of the leadership void was Flacco. Flacco led by example in the playoffs, throwing for 11 touchdowns, no interceptions and a 117.2 passer-efficiency rating.

As such, the Ravens made Flacco a member of the exclusive nine-figure contract club, signing him to a $120.6M ($52M guaranteed) contract, the richest in NFL history. Whether Flacco is worth that amount is entirely debatable, but the fact of the matter is Flacco bet on himself in a contract year and won. Big time.

After Jim Caldwell was promoted to offensive coordinator (replacing Cam Cameron) in season, the Ravens struck a greater balance in their play-calling. They ran the ball more frequently and effectively, which opened up play-action and the deep-passing opportunities. Flacco attempted the most passes over 20 yards in the league, and was highly successful on those attempts.

This year, the Ravens offense is still searching for an identity.

There are a variety of reasons as to why the Ravens offense has stalled this season, with the biggest being a lack of go-up-and-get it receivers (think Pitta and Anquan Boldin), an unsettled and less talented offensive line, and an anemic run game.

They’re throwing the ball 60% of the time, but with fewer yards per attempt and a higher interception rate, and the explosive plays haven’t been there. Other than Torrey Smith (41 receptions, 753 yards, 18.4 yards per catch, 2 touchdowns) and Jacoby Jones, Flacco is throwing to receivers – Marlon Brown, Tandon Doss – that he’s not familiar with.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 6-4-0
coleryan Posts:12022 Followers:20
11/14/2013 01:12 PM

With their longest skid of the season in the past, the Baltimore Ravens are confident they can make a serious push for a third straight AFC North title.

The Chicago Bears, meanwhile, hope a growing list of injuries won't keep them from remaining a contender in the NFC North.

Looking to win consecutive games for the first time in almost two months, the Ravens try for their first victory at Soldier Field against the Bears on Sunday.

Though Baltimore (4-5) still had problems running the ball, Joe Flacco struggled at times and the defense blew a 17-0 halftime lead, last Sunday's 20-17 overtime win over division-leading Cincinnati ended a three-game slide and instilled some confidence.

"They showed the heart of champions," said coach John Harbaugh, whose team is one-game behind the Bengals in the loss column." Where this will lead us, we'll find out."

Though the Ravens never felt their season was over after losing to Green Bay, Pittsburgh and Cleveland by a combined 11 points, they understand there's work to be done.

Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce combined for 61 of the team's 85 rushing yards, and Baltimore ranks 30th averaging 73.1 per game and is tied for last at 2.8 per carry. Rice rushed for at least 1,143 yards in each of the last four seasons but has 289 and averages 2.5 per attempt in 2013.

"We need to get better with our run game," Harbaugh said. "We gained a few more yards (against the Bengals), but that to me is negligible because we're not as a successful as we want to be. Not even close."

Baltimore, which hasn't won back-to-back games since Sept. 15-22, could improve against a Chicago team that ranks 31st giving up 129.4 rushing yards per game, and has allowed a 100-yard rusher in two straight and three of the last four games.

Flacco, meanwhile, has thrown seven touchdowns and three interceptions in four games but two of those picks came last weekend. He also fumbled and was sacked five times for the second straight contest and third time in four games.

The Ravens have allowed more than 19 points once in four games, but the defense collapsed in the second half last Sunday and allowed the Bengals to force overtime when Andy Dalton's 51-yard desperation heave was caught by A.J. Green for a TD as time expired.

"(Last Sunday's win) can start something," Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb said. "But we can't let this get over our heads, thinking we're something that we're not. We've just got to get back to that film and keep getting better, and better, and better."

The Bears (5-4) wish things were better in the health department.

Defensive tackles Henry Melton, Nate Collins and linebacker D.J. Williams are all out with season-ending injuries, while fellow linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder) and defensive end Shea McClellin (hamstring) are currently sidelined. Making matters worse, star cornerback Charles Tillman was placed on injured reserve/designated to return with a torn triceps and quarterback Jay Cutler will miss at least this contest with an ankle injury.

''It just so happened, the injury bug, it has a hold of our team for some reason," Tillman said.

Cutler missed Chicago's 27-20 win at Green Bay on Nov. 4 with a groin injury he suffered in a 45-41 loss at Washington on Oct. 20. He hurt his ankle in last Sunday's 21-19 defeat to Detroit, but stayed in the game until Chicago's final series and finished 21 of 40 for 250 yards with a TD and interception.

Backup Josh McCown went 6 of 9 on the final drive and hit Brandon Marshall for an 11-yard TD pass with 40 seconds left, but the 2-point conversion attempt failed. The 34-yard McCown has thrown four TDs and no INTs while posting a 103.2 passer rating in three games, including a start against the Packers.

"We know what Josh can do," center Roberto Garza said. "Obviously, (at Green Bay) was a testament to what his preparation is, and we just got another sample of Josh's ability to lead this team and step in to situations like that."

Marshall has 14 receptions for 246 yards and three TDs in the last two games. Alshon Jeffery has topped the 100-yard receiving mark four times, and 200 once, in the last six.

Chicago's Matt Forte is seventh in the league with 691 rushing yards but hopes to bounce back after he was held to a season-low 33 on 17 carries versus Detroit. Baltimore is 10th in the NFL allowing 102.6 yards per game on the ground.

Though Baltimore hasn't recorded a touchdown while being outscored 34-9 in two losses at Soldier Field, the Ravens won the most recent meeting, 31-7 at home in 2009. Flacco went 21 of 29 for 234 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in that contest.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 6-4-0
coleryan Posts:12022 Followers:20
11/15/2013 12:56 PM

You think your team has injuries?

Your team doesn't really have injuries.

Now the Chicago Bears, there's a team that's got injuries.

The "Monsters of the Midway" of years past have been reduced to the "Barely Able to Field a Full Team" thus far in 2013, with no fewer than four defensive players on season-ending injured reserve, a pair of other defenders absent for undetermined stretches and a starting quarterback who seems to be available one minute, sidelined the next.

"It just so happens, the injury bug, it has a hold of our team for some reason," said two-time Pro Bowler Charles Tillman, who's among those out for the year with a torn triceps muscle.

Jay Cutler's return from a groin problem became an absence thanks to an ankle issue last week against Detroit, leaving the starting assignment for the Week 11 visit by the Baltimore Ravens to backup Josh McCown, who's been stellar while carrying the load in Cutler's place.

The career journeyman - a third-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals 11 years ago - has compiled a 103.2 passer rating in three appearances, including a start against Green Bay, while throwing four TDs and no interceptions.

He relieved Cutler for the final series last week against Detroit and engineered a touchdown drive that ended with a Brandon Marshall TD reception with 40 seconds left. The Bears still lost, however, falling 21-19 when a two- point conversion attempt failed.

Marshall has clearly clicked with McCown under center, reeling in 14 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns in the last two games. He's joined in prolific territory by Alshon Jeffery, who's gone beyond 200 yards once and 100 three other times in the last six games.

"We know what Josh can do," center Roberto Garza said. "(The win at Green Bay) was a testament to what his preparation is, and we just got another sample of Josh's ability to lead this team and step into situations like that."

Among other weapons at the substitute's disposal is running back Matt Forte, who's coming off a season-low 33 yards against Detroit but remains seventh in the league with 691 rush yards.

The Ravens are 10th in the league defending the run, allowing yards at a 102.6 per week clip.

Baltimore has lost both its previous trips to Solider Field while not scoring a touchdown - losing 24-3 in 1998 and 10-6 in 2005 - but the Ravens won, 31-7, when the teams last met in Baltimore in 2009. QB

Joe Flacco threw for four TDs in that game, two to Todd Heap and one apiece to Demetrius Williams and Derrick Mason.

Last week, Flacco was uneven as the Ravens built, then lost, a 17-0 lead before rallying again to defeat Cincinnati in overtime, end a three-game skid and pull back into a position of relevance in the AFC playoff picture.

As it stands now, Baltimore is a game behind the sixth-seeded New York Jets for the second wild card slot and 1 1/2 behind the Bengals in the AFC North. The Ravens host the Jets in Week 12 and will visit Cincinnati in the season finale on Dec. 29.

They haven't won two in a row since Sept. 15 and 22, weeks 3 and 4, and had lost three straight before the Bengals game by a combined 11 points.

"They showed the heart of champions (against Cincinnati)," coach John Harbaugh said." Where this will lead us, we'll find out."

In spite of the honeymoon, issues still exist.

Though Ray Rice surpassed the 1,100-yard mark on the ground last season, he's got just 289 so far this year and is averaging just 2.5 per carry. He and Bernard Pierce helped Baltimore amass 85 yards against Cincinnati, but the Ravens are still just 30th in the league with a 73.1-yard average per week and at the bottom with a composite 2.8-yard per carry clip.

"We need to get better with our run game," Harbaugh said. "We gained a few more yards (last week), but that to me is negligible because we're not as a successful as we want to be. Not even close."

Chicago is 31st in the league against the run, allowing 129.4 yards per week.

Through the air, Flacco threw two interceptions last week, fumbled once and was sacked five times for the third game of the last four. On the positive side, he's thrown for seven touchdowns and four INTs in his last four starts.

"(Defeating Cincinnati) can start something," Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb said. "But we can't let this get over our heads, thinking we're something that we're not. We've just got to get back to that film and keep getting better and better and better."

  • Last 7 Days Record: 6-4-0
coleryan Posts:12022 Followers:20
11/15/2013 12:56 PM

Get the Rice cooking.

Though the battering ram-shaped Rutgers alum is well below his ground-gaining pace of a year ago, he'll likely have an opportunity to ramp up the numbers against a Chicago defense that's exceeded only Jacksonville's when it comes to stopping opposing ball carriers.

If Rice can get closer to his career per-carry average of 4.4 yards than his current 2013 pace of 2.5 yards, the Ravens will be in a good spot.

Take the heat of the sub.

For all his glittering numbers thus far in relief roles, QB McCown is still a backup QB and he'll need some help from his friends in order to have a successful second start.

Forte could play a big role in a bounce-back spot after averaging just 1.95 yards per rush last week against Detroit. A bigger threat from him could open things up for McCown to connect with Marshall and Jeffrey as well.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 6-4-0