Keys to the Game: San Francisco @ Baltimore

Week 12: San Francisco 49ers at Baltimore Ravens

Thursday November 24, 2011 8:30 PM

Line: Ravens -3.5 O/U 38

Well despite an Orson Welles sized load of drama to end the game, the Baltimore Ravens squeaked out a victory over division rival Cincinnati Bengals and move into the showdown to end all showdowns Thursday night. Brother v. Brother, west v. east, you honestly couldn’t script a better matchup for a Thanksgiving Day football game. Will the 7-3 Ravens hold serve at home, or will the 9-1 49ers continue their winning ways on the east coast? With that in mind, let’s take a look at this week’s keys to the game. Keys to the Game

Stay Focused

The hardest part of playing football on a short week is maintaining the focus necessary to win the game. You only get three days of rest and it’s a bear of a challenge to keep your body going after it’s just taken a pounding. If the Ravens are going to keep it together and win this game, they’re going to have to muster all of their focus and strength and soldier through the hardship. Winning starts here.

Absolutely No Mistakes

You know what the biggest difference was between Andy Dalton and Joe Flacco last weekend? Dalton threw three interceptions. Those mental mistakes were the difference maker in the game, and could have easily decided the outcome. Instead the Ravens offense took the gift and turned it into two touchdowns.

I won’t hammer this dead horse much long, but if the Ravens are to win, they’re going to need to play a flawless game and take advantage of whatever opportunities are handed to them. That means no fumbles, no INT’s and no stupid penalties.

Vote Gore Out of Office

The Ravens did an excellent job keeping Cedric Benson bottled up. Yes he had the two touchdowns, but production wise he only was able to generate 40 yards. They kept him contained by tackling well, closing holes rapidly and staying in their assignments.

Frank Gore is a lot like Cedric Benson in terms of style and form. If you can bottle him up you not only take away a major weapon of the Niners but you force Alex Smith to throw the ball, which is far from his strong suit. The Bengals were able to stay competitive because Andy Dalton is talented, the Niners won’t have the same luxury.

Keep the Balanced Offense

The Ravens offense looked cool, calm, and above all else methodical in its win against the Cincinnati Bengals. They did this by maintaining balance on offense. They ran the ball 28 times and threw the ball 28 times. It kept Cincy guessing as to what was coming on any given play. Balance makes an offense run and it allows a play action to be convincing.

You want to beat a tired road worn Niners team? You do it the exact same way. You keep them guessing and you wear them out.

Ray Must Play

I know that it’s a cardinal sin to place an entire team’s fortunes on one linebacker, but Ray Lewis has to play if the Ravens are going to win. Ray is the heart and soul of the Baltimore Ravens, and if there’s a time when he’s absolutely going to be needed, it’s right now, in prime time, on a short week, facing a talented and nasty San Francisco. Ray needs to be out there, if for no other reason than to rally the troops and get them emotionally invested in winning this contest.


Ravens Gab Predictions

Jonathon Scruggs (6-4)

The Bengals are the Achilles heel to the Ravens, have been for some time now. I think the Ravens win here but it’s in the last minute of the game. I won’t see it though because I’ll have had a stroke by that point.

Ravens 31 — 49ers 27

 Matt Jergensen (6-4)

The Niners have been one of the biggest surprises this season with a stout defense and strong running game. They have great success traveling east all season but the short week will give the Ravens an edge. Plus it’s hard for me to root against the Ravens when they play at the Bank – where they have been perfect this year. In fact Baltimore averages more than 30 points when they play in front of the purple faithful.”


Ravens 24 – 49ers 17

Gene Winner (7-3)

 ”Thanksgiving primetime is perfect time for the Ravens to make a
statement. The team must put together a complete game on both sides of
the ball. The 49ers are no easy task because they play physical. If the
Ravens stop the run, I like their chances in this one.”

Ravens 27 – 49ers 13


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