Honestly, this game has been the toughest one for me to pick so far this season. I really have no idea what’s going to happen because both teams have glaring weaknesses as well as strengths in different areas.
Under coach Tony Sparano, quarterback coach David Lee, and offensive coordinator Dan Henning, the Dolphins have been running the always-exciting wildcat offense, which Lee used to run at the University of Arkansas. The offense uses several strange tactics, like lining up QBs as WRs in the single-wing with an unbalanced offensive line.
Texans Coach Gary Kubiak talked to the Houston Chronicle on the wildcat offense last week before their game vs. Miami. “They’re causing a lot of problems because basically you’re preparing for two offensive football teams. It’s not only that they’re doing something different. They’re running their other offense pretty darn well, too. So, all of a sudden, your preparation is doubled.”
From what I’ve seen, the best way to beat this offensive scheme is a zone blitz scheme with lots of pre-snap movement, which Rex Ryan and the Ravens defense run very well.
The only questions remaining: will Fabian Washington play and help out a battered secondary and can the Ravens disrupt these trick plays by getting in the backfield? I think that coming off an utter embarrassment last week, the Ravens will rebound this week and the front seven will cause a lot of problems for Chad Pennington and Ronnie Brown.
Offensively, I look for the Ravens to use more of Ray Rice this week. Chris Chester could be a liability replacing Marshal Yanda on the interior of the line, so look for Cam Cameron to keep Le’Ron McClain and Lorenzo Neal in to give him some help.
The Ravens need to try to keep Flacco in the pocket and allow him to go through his progressions, because we’ve all seen that when he gets out of the pocket, he’s more susceptible to making rookie mistakes.
I hope they take the handcuffs off of him this week. But maybe we’re just that bad of an offense because nobody can get open except for Derrick Mason. The biggest problem with this offense is the fact that Clayton and Heap are having trouble getting separation from the defense. It wouldn’t hurt to cut down on the turnovers, too.
My prediction: I’m going with my gut because, like I said, I’m really not sure. I think these teams are very evenly matched. The Ravens need to control Ronnie Brown, who has scored at least one touchdown in all five games this season. I think the defense rebounds after being embarrassed in Indy. The Ravens will need to find a way to establish the run against Miami’s #8 rush defense. The Dolphins have a very weak secondary, so look for Cam Cameron to air it out this week, utilizing play-action to freeze the Miami secondary. In a battle where defense will determine the outcome, I think the Ravens get big on the Fish and create enough turnovers to win the game.
Ravens – 24
Dolphins – 16
Pivotal Match-Up: Ronnie Brown vs. the Ravens front 7. If Brown pops off and has a big day, look for about 50 phone callers on the Comcast Morning Show screaming to fire Harbaugh.
Where it could all go wrong: Ravens pass protection breaks down; Ravens have trouble establishing the run; Ronnie Brown has a big day, putting the secondary on their heels and allowing the big play; Clayton and Heap continue to struggle to get separation.
Surprising statistic: The Dolphins are 4-0 all-time against the Ravens in Miami.
Last Week’s winner: Johnny Rocket correctly picked against the Ravens, per usual, predicting a 32-8 Colts victory. Actual score: 31-3 Colts.
Week 5 winner: Columbia Ken picked the closest score, predicting a 17-13 Titans victory. Actual score: 13-10 Titans
Week 4 winner: Jon R. reluctantly picked a 24-20 win for the Steelers. Actual score: 23-20 Steelers (OT)
Week 3 winner: EazyE picked a 23-13 win for the Ravens vs. Cleveland. Actual score: 24-10 Ravens.
What are your predictions this week?