I’m a little tardy on this post, but better late than never, right?
Anyway, it’s no secret anymore that the Ravens have an extremely tough challenge ahead of them as they head north to take on the Patriots, a team that they have never beaten in the Ravens 14 years of existence. But hey, there is a first time for everything!
There are a few key match-ups that I feel are important, and one of my loyal readers have also mentioned that he feels the same way. So let’s go through them to see exactly what the Ravens are going to have to do in order to pull out a victory on Sunday afternoon.
The biggest concern, and one that has been a dark cloud over the Ravens all season, is the Ravens’ secondary against the opponents’ receivers. And the Patriots have one of the best in Randy Moss. If there is one good thing going in favor of the Ravens is the unfortunate injury to Wes Welker this past weekend. However, at the same time, Julian Edelman is his backup, who just torched the Texans with 10 receptions and 103 yards this past Sunday. Needless to say, the Ravens are going to have their hands full. Moss is obviously going to have to be double-teamed as much as possible so that not many balls are thrown his way. And whoever is matched up against Edelman and the other Patriots receivers is going to have to shut them down. One thing I would like to see is a lot of help from our safeties, whether that is Ed Reed, Dawan Landry, or Tom Zbikowski. I actually wouldn’t mind a new look where all three of them are back deep, offering as much help as possible to our secondary and linebackers.
Another concern that has been brought to my attention is the Patriots’ defensive line against the Ravens’ offensive line. The best way to counter their D-line, led by Vince Wilfork and his 325 pound frame, is to establish an early running attack so that the defense will be keying on Ray Rice and Willis McGahee, which will open up the secondary so that Joe Flacco can have some targets to throw to. In order to establish this early run game, we are going to have to have extra blockers stay in, meaning Todd Heap and Le’Ron McClain. We may even need these two to stay in for pass protection as well, since it seemed last week that the Raiders were continually getting a hand on Flacco, even more than the four sacks that they recorded. At the same time, however, Flacco is going to need to feel this pressure and go to his check downs earlier, or get rid of the ball. He is going to get hurt worse than he already is one of these days if he doesn’t learn to do this.
And if the Ravens can get off to this strong early running game, they can keep the Patriots’ offense on the sideline, preventing them from scoring on the Ravens’ defense. It isn’t going to be an easy game, but nothing in the NFL ever is. If you look back on all of the Ravens’ losses this year, they have been to quality opponents where the Ravens had a chance late to pull off a win. We all remember Mark Clayton’s dropped pass late in the fourth quarter against these very same Patriots. I expect another game very similar to the one in week four. Hopefully this time, there will be a different result. I definitely do not want this game to be the last one for the Ravens this season.