It took him most of the season but Joe Flacco is finally showing up.
After being largely ineffective the first 10 games of the season, the Baltimore Ravens quarterback has stepped up in recent weeks with his team squarely in the mix for a playoff spot. Armed with four straight victories, Flacco and company now challenge the 10-4 New England Patriots on Sunday, Dec. 22, at 4:25 p.m. on CBS.
The numbers say Flacco is far from an elite quarterback worthy of his $120.6 million contract. The reigning Super Bowl champs have bailed him out with a ninth-ranked defense that can shut down any offense, as evidenced by Monday’s win over the 7-7 Detroit Lions. That fact will be put to the test against Tom Brady and company, who rank sixth in passing and eighth in overall offense.
New England have been kept in check by motivated defenses this year. Baltimore have no room for error and it’s a good bet to expect a 3-point Ravens victory.
Another notable Sunday contest prior to Christmas is the Chicago Bears against the Philadelphia Eagles, both 8-6, at 8:30 p.m. on NBC. To most, the festive season is about giving and both top ten offenses are primed to give the statisticians a lot of work by dishing out a ton of points. Any chance of a defensive struggle is slim to none as both defenses rank in the bottom quarter of the league.
The Bears would appear to have the momentum thanks to a two-game win streak and the return of hurler Jay Cutler. Philly is at home but the Bears are primed for a playoff berth courtesy of a 10-point victory that could see both clubs combine for over 80 points.
The 4-10 Atlanta Falcons should not be much of a challenge for the 10-4 San Francisco 49ers on Monday, Dec. 23, at 8:40 p.m. on ESPN. Colin Kapernick and company should solidify their postseason footing with a 14-point win.