Ravens players, coaches and fans can use any excuse in the book about why they were beaten in stunning fashion by the Tennessee Titans last Sunday.  Some would say the cornerbacks couldn’t handle the size and speed of the Titans receivers.  Some would say they didn’t put enough pressure on Matt Hasselbeck.  Some would say Joe Flacco missed a few easy passes to open receivers.  But whichever excuse you want to use must include the part about the Ravens being too overconfident after beating the snot out of the Pittsburgh Steelers the week before.

I know that these guys are professionals, but they are humans as well.  You can’t tell me that the locker room wasn’t on an incredible high after absolutely destroying their hated rivals and that they didn’t come into the Titans game overlooking them at least a little.  I know it’s hard for fans to admit that their team would ever overlook a fellow NFL opponent, but it happens from time to time, and it certainly happened last Sunday.  But as they say, you live and you learn.  And the Ravens will surely learn from what transpired last Sunday.

After watching the Rams play the New York Giants last Monday night, I don’t see how the Ravens lose to them this week, especially if Steven Jackson doesn’t play.  If he does play, it makes it a bit more difficult because he is such a dual threat out of the backfield and he can surely help them score touchdowns in the red zone, which is something they have struggled with so far this season.  The absence of Jackson against the Giants put pressure on Sam Bradford’s arm, which is evident when you look at their run versus pass selection in the red zone in that game.  In 12 red zone plays, they only ran the ball four times, a number that would’ve been higher if Jackson was on the field.  So their red zone struggles could decrease dramatically if Jackson is able to play, which could spell trouble for the Ravens defense.

That being said, I still don’t see the Ravens having much trouble beating the Rams.  The offense should be able to move the ball against the somewhat weak Rams defense, who are giving up close to 30 points per game.  But the key is to not trade field goals with the Rams offense.  They certainly don’t want to keep the Rams hanging around for too long because at that point, anything can happen.  Flacco needs to settle down and get back to how he played against the Steelers when he was calm and collected.  But that hinges a lot on his protection.  The Steelers weren’t able to get much pressure on Flacco and only sacked him once.  The Titans, on the other hand, sacked him three times and generated constant pressure on him all afternoon, which resulted in Flacco making one too many mistakes and not being able to get the Ravens back in the game.

It should be a different story this week against the Rams, though.  The surprising loss last week opened up a lot of eyes and will bring the Ravens back down to reality and help them regain their focus.  However you want to spin it, losses are never a good thing.  They can, however, be used as a learning tool to get better throughout the season.  And I see the Ravens bouncing back nicely this Sunday, especially since they were 4-0 after a loss last season and 9-2 over the past two seasons.

Submitted by Steve Giles