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Strong Storm Expected In Chicago

Posted Nov 16, 2013

The Ravens may have to switch up their game plan due to heavy rain and strong winds.


UPDATE: There is a tornado watch in place for Chicago until 4 p.m. Flags and temporary signage have been removed at Soldier Field due to high winds. An evacuation plan of the stadium's seating bowl is in place.

Shoulder pads – check.

Stickiest gloves – check.

Rain coats – check.

The Ravens are preparing for a strong storm in Chicago this Sunday. According to weather.com, there’s an 80 percent chance of rain, lightening and 28-mile-per-hour winds.

“You have to prepare for it, sure,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said on Friday.

“Footing will be an issue there. Game plan – it may move in that direction. It’s probably more of a situation where you have the various game-plan options that you need plays-wise and things like that available, but you won’t know until you start playing the game how that it’s going to affect the game.”

Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell said weather can impact what direction you’re throwing the ball, the kinds of throws you make and other facets of the game depending on how strong the rain and wind is exactly. That can only be determined once in the stadium.

In a nutshell, both teams will likely have to be very flexible. And sure-handed.

“If you could pick, you wouldn’t choose to play in the rain,” wide receiver Torrey Smith said.

“But that’s how it is, that’s what football is about – whichever team can adapt and play in any weather. … Obviously it tends to favor the run game when it’s raining like that.”

The Ravens haven’t been able to run the ball effectively this season, ranking last in the NFL in average yards per carry. But they have a better chance to do so this week as the Bears rush defense is also struggling, ranked 31st in the league and allowing 129.4 rushing yards a game.

So maybe this is the game where Baltimore commits to the run game and it works.

Then again, the Ravens feel they have an advantage in foul weather because of the strong-armed quarterback they have under center. Joe Flacco has big hands and can zip a ball through adverse conditions, although he admitted the winds last week against Cincinnati affected some of his passes.

“We played a rain game before and [Flacco] can make every single throw,” Smith said. “He has a strong enough arm that the rain doesn’t necessarily affect him as much. It’s on us to focus on looking the ball in.”

Besides catching the football, the Ravens have to make sure they take care of it too. The Bears lead the NFL with 17 forced fumbles and the ball will be easier to punch out when it’s slick.

Baltimore does practice using wet balls. During practice, the equipment staff will dunk balls in buckets of water before giving them to center Gino Gradkowski to snap to Flacco. The receivers catch wet balls as well.

“You better take your time taking the snap exchange, throwing, catching, put it away first,” Harbaugh said. “You better be more cognizant of it. … Whatever team does a better job is going to have a better chance of winning.”

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