Ok, so finally I will talk about the Ravens game today. Here are my 5 keys to the game on offense and defense for the Ravens:
- You have to wrap up the WR’s, I said it last week, and you saw what happened, but it is twice as important this week. Fitzgerald and Boldin are huge wide outs who have great hands and will make you pay if you do not finish the tackle. This is also a group of WR’s that loves to talk trash, and we all have seen that sometimes that can lead to bad penalties for the Ravens defense. Chris McAlister is a more mature player now, and I think he will let his play on the field do the talking. This could be something to keep a note of though.
- Swarm Edgerrin James when he has the football. Edge is a very patient running back that will wait for the hole to develop and makes the most out of every time he touches the football whether it is 2 yds or 63 yds. He reads holes very well and will read his o-line and adjust his runs off them. You have to get him quick and down to the ground.
- Put pressure on Matt Leinart. This will no doubt be the toughest test for him in his young career, but Matt has done a nice job of recognizing blitzes and avoiding sacks. The Ravens will be at an advantage with being at home and the crowd noise that Matt will have to deal with. The Cardinals have a rookie center that will be making only his second NFL start today, which could be something to watch for.
- Someone has to step up. Maybe it is Dwan Edwards, maybe it is Gerome Sapp, or perhaps it is Antwan Barnes. Edwards will get the start for Trevor Pryce, Edwards is solid against the run, but has maybe not as strong against the pass as Trevor. Enter Antwan Barnes who has blazing speed coming off the edges, and has a very simple job of go get the QB. Gerome Sapp has had a tremendous preseason and early part of this season, I expect him to make a big play today. Teams have been going after and will continue to challenge Corey Ivy when he is matched up with a slot receiver one on one.
- Crowd noise should be at an all time high today. This is a very explosive offense will make you pay, with a head coach that has game planned against this defense several times. The more crowd noise to make the communications harder for Matt and his o-line, especially with a rookie center will be important. I am sure Coach Whisenhunt has prepared Matt for the crowd noise as much as he can, but I am not sure there is anything that can prepare you for being on the fields when it is going on.
- Keep Steve McNair upright. McNair will be returning from missing last week with a groin injury. The o-line did not allow Kyle Boller to be sacked once last Sunday, and they have to be up to that task again today. This aggressive defense will be looking to take McNair to the ground on every single play.
- Having an almost 100% Mark Clayton back will be big for the passing game. Mark has been bothered by a toe and ankle injury this season, but should be ready to go today. I would like to see the Ravens get him involved early which could lead to big play chances for Williams and Mason.
- Stay patient and do not force it. This is aggressive Cards defense that at times will leave them vulnerable trying to make a big play. Adrian Wilson is very hard-hitting safety who is looking to make that big play or big hit sometimes to often.
- Get Willis McGahee going early. Willis really looks like he is starting to get comfortable in the offense running the ball. I thought this week in the preseason and training camp I would be when we really saw Willis take off. I am going to go out on a limb and say 100+ yds today for Willis.
- Throw Todd Heap the football. When all else fails, and sometime before you even try any thing else, get Heap the football.
All that being said, I think the Ravens come out with a 23-13 win today. The defense has a chip on their shoulder after what happened in the 4th quarter against the Jets, and out to prove that is not who they are. The Cards will put a good fight, they are a young explosive offense, and have a well-respected head coach, an o-line coach in Russ Grimm who knows the Ravens defense very well also. This would be a huge win for them if they were able to pull this off, just feel that today they will come up a little short.
Now for my LSU over South Carolina 5 star locks of the week:
Yamon Figurs takes one the distance
Willis over 100yds
Bart Scott gets a sack
Chris McAlister an INT