Does Will Hill Return To Ravens Next Year?
New starting safety Will Hill was the "difference maker" Monday night, as Head Coach John Harbaugh aptly pointed out.
His 44-yard pick-six was the game-changing play. Shoot, the fact that the coaches asked him to matchup up one-on-one against Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham was a vote of confidence. And for good reason:
"The secondary remains one of the Ravens' biggest question marks, but in Hill, the Ravens appear to have found at least one answer," wrote CSNBaltimore.com's Clifton Brown.
The question is: Will the Ravens show another sign of confidence by signing him to a long-term contract in the offseason? Baltimore picked up Hill on a one-year deal in July.
ESPN's Jamison Hensley offers his opinion (written *before *Hill's performance Monday night).
"I would expect the Ravens to extend some offer to Hill," he wrote. "But it's not like Hill has played so well that there is going to be a huge demand for him. The fact that he could face another major suspension if he violates the substance abuse policy again will also cut down on interest.
"For that reason, it's reasonable to think the Ravens have a good shot at retaining him. The Ravens just aren't going to spend a lot. They have already made a significant investment at safety – a first-round pick on struggling Matt Elam in 2013 and a third-rounder on Terrence Brooks in 2014 – to commit much more at that position."
Torrey Smith Thinks His Son Should Be The Gerber Baby
Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith is on a mission, and he needs your help to accomplish it.
He thinks his seven-month-old son, Torrey Jeremiah (T.J.), should be the next Gerber baby. And look at the little guy. Who am I to disagree?
Torrey and wife Chanel entered T.J. into the Gerber "Be Our Baby" photo search to battle it out with adorableness across the country. The contest ends Dec. 14, and the Smiths want you to vote little T.J. to the top.
The winner gets $5,000, but the Smiths don't care about the money. They'd give half the winnings to a children's charity and the other half would go to a college fund for charity. Here's the real prize:
"I just want TJ in a Gerber commercial that little face belongs somewhere!" Chanel wrote on Instagram.
You can vote here; just type in "Torrey Smith" and "MD" to search for little T.J.
Getting back to football …
How Joe Flacco Handled Saints' Blitz
After quarterback Joe Flacco took a season-high four sacks and 10 hits during the Week 9 Steelers game, the Ravens said they wanted to make opponents pay for blitzing.
That's exactly what Flacco did when Saints Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan brought the heat Monday.
According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Flacco had a 145.5 quarterback rating while being blitzed. He completed 13 of 17 attempts for 222 yards under such pressure, the best mark in his seven-year career, per ESPN Stats and Information.
"In the games leading up to last week's bye, Flacco was unsettled in the pocket and didn't follow through on his throws when the pass rush collapsed around him," Hensley wrote. "On Monday, he was poised for most of the game and took some big hits before releasing the ball downfield."
Brooks Annoyed With Himself
Rookie safety Terrence Brooks cradled his arms, ready for a Drew Brees pass to fall in for the interception. Instead, Saints receiver Marques Colston ran to the ball and snatched it for the touchdown near the end of the first half.
Brooks was criticized for not being aggressive enough to get the ball, or at least hitting Colston to break up the pass.
But nobody was more upset with the play than Brooks himself. He immediately grabbed his head as he fell to the ground, and he told The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson that he was upset with himself.
"I should have made the play," Brooks said while shaking his head in disgust, per Wilson. "I read the play perfectly and I was in position to get a pick. Obviously, I didn't come up with it. I just got to be more aggressive on the ball and have that confidence and play how I'm supposed to play. I feel like I'm kind of in a rut.
"I'm actually up and down with it right now. I don't know what it is, but we got to figure it out fast and play better. That was a play I definitely should have made. It just didn't happen. I'm disappointed in myself and how I'm playing right now. This up-and-down thing, it don't matter if I'm a rookie or not."
Who Deserves More Credit: O-Line Or Forsett?
Here's the type of debate Ravens fans can enjoy having because it implies good things.
Running back Justin Forsett is now ranked No. 3 among NFL rushers with 903 yards on the season. He's the top-ranked back in yards per attempt (5.8). You don't do that without an amazing back AND offensive line.
But who deserves more of the credit?
"It's fascinating trying to parse the credit for the Ravens' revamped running game," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker.
"In pro football, the story is rarely as simple as one man's performance. How much would Forsett be able to do if guards Kelechi Osemele and Marshal Yanda weren't healthy and consistently grading among the league's best run blockers? How much room would he have if center Jeremy Zuttah and right tackle Rick Wagner weren't significant upgrades over Gino Gradkowski and Michael Oher, respectively? Would any of these guys be playing so well if offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak hadn't arrived with a system that's always created great running numbers?"
Either way, Forsett thinks his line is deserving of Pro Bowl nods and wants you to vote for them.
Best, Worst PFF Grades vs. Saints
Here are the best and worst grades in the Ravens-Saints game, per PFF:
RB Justin Forsett: plus-4.3
DT Brandon Williams: plus-4.3
WR Steve Smith Sr.: plus-3.7
WR Torrey Smith: plus-3.6
OLB Pernell McPhee: plus-3.4
Worst GradesLT Eugene Monroe: minus-3.3
FB Kyle Juszczyk: minus-2.7
DT Haloti Ngata: minus-2.4
ILB C.J. Mosley: minus-2.2
S Matt Elam: minus-1.4
It comes as no surprise that Forsett's 182-yard day was tied for the highest grade (plus-4.3), but defensive tackle Brandon Williams' tied him for the top mark and his performance went under the radar (typical for a lineman).
Then there was McPhee with a plus-3.4 grade, who is quietly kicking butt.
"A crucial cog in the Ravens' pass rush McPhee quietly piles up the pressure while the likes of Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil received the plaudits ahead of him," wrote PFF's Ben Stockwell. "Last night was the eighth time in 11 games McPhee has earned a pass rush grade above +1.0 featuring a season high seven pressures."
Sizing Up Remaining AFC North Schedules
The Ravens are in control of their playoff destiny.
They can do some serious damage in the wild-card race by beating some of the top contenders: Chargers, Dolphins, Texans and Browns. They also have the 1-10 Jaguars, making the combined record of their remaining opponents 26-29.
In the meantime, in never hurts to take a peek at the rest of the AFC North, as Hensley did yesterday, because Baltimore is still in the thick of the division race, too.
Cincinnati Bengals: at Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, at Cleveland, Denver, at Pittsburgh
Combined record of opponents: 31-24
Cleveland Browns: at Buffalo, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, at Carolina, at Baltimore
Combined record of opponents: 30-24-1
Pittsburgh Steelers: New Orleans, at Cincinnati, at Atlanta, Kansas City, Cincinnati
Combined record of opponents: 29-24-2
Week 13 Power Rankings
ESPN: No. 11 (moved up three spots)
"Justin Forsett rushed for 170 yards between the tackles. Le'Veon Bell is the only other player with more than 150 yards between the tackles in a game this season."
SportingNews.com, Vinnie Iyer: No. 12 (moved up two spots)
"Steve Smith Sr. played a big part in their sweep of the lowly NFC South, his former division. They are just 3-4 otherwise, however, and their schedule has no more breaks. Being swept by the Bengals and splitting with the Steelers hasn't helped."
Fox Sports, Dan Schneier: No. 9 (moved up three spots)
"Gary Kubiak's system has once again birthed one of the most consistent running games in the NFL-- this time the leader of the pack is journeyman Justin Forsett. The defensive line can at times carry the load and Will Hill has helped make up for the loss Jimmy Smith in the secondary."
ProFootballTalk.com, Mike Florio: No. 11 (moved up one spot)
"Justin Forsett keeps piling up yards — and votes for comeback player of the year."
CBSSports.com, Pete Prisco: No. 14 (no movement)
"That was an impressive victory at New Orleans Monday night. They are good on both lines, which most teams can't say."
NFL.com, Elliot Harrison: No. 14 (moved up one spot)
"Justin Forsett is one of three players who has had 65 yards from scrimmage in every game this season, joining DeMarco Murray and Antonio Brown. Last year, it would have taken Baltimore's starting back four games to match the 190 total yards Forsett gained Monday night. Nah, say five. Maybe six."
The Baltimore Sun, Jon Meoli: No. 10 (not ranked in top-10 list last week)
"I mentioned earlier the Patriots' and Packers' point differential. Well, the Ravens are third in the NFL in that category and have no problem scoring on bad defenses. Luckily, San Diego kind of has one of late. The Ravens are a victory away from matching last year's win total."
- This would be perfect to scarf down while you read your morning edition of Late For Work. It's Baltimore Ravens logo pancake art. [FanSided.com]
- Steve Smith's amazing catch was ranked No. 3 of the Week 12. OK, I get why Odell Beckham's touchdown is No. 1. But No. 2 is just silly. [NFL.com]