Ravens @ Eagles
Sunday at 1:00pm, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA, kicks off what is sure to be a great battle between a pair of Super Bowl hopefuls. The Ravens travel to Philadelphia with hopes of picking up right where they left off the previous week, whereas the Eagles look to correct what was quite a sloppy performance on offense last week against the Browns. Both the Ravens and the Eagles are looking to take care of business Sunday and head into week 3 with unblemished 2-0 records, but only one will come out the victor of that goal.
Baltimore has to be feeling great after whooping up on divisional rival Cincinnati on Monday and want to keep intact their early division lead. This week Ray Lewis and the Baltimore defense might have a tougher battle than they did in week one, trying to contain a Mike Vick led offense who was the definition of rusty week one. Joe Flacco and his no huddle offense are ready to show the world that week one was not just a fluke and their offense should be considered amongst the league’s Elite.
The Eagles were happy to come away last week with a notch in the win column, but they cannot be happy within the manner that they achieved that victory. Mike Vick threw for 4 interceptions to go along with two fumbles (none were lost) and only two touchdowns. Although he did lead the Eagles to a game winning drive late in the fourth quarter, Vick’s rust from missing most of the preseason to various injuries certainly showed. The Philly defense and sack master Jason Babin look to build off weeks 1’s strong performance of only allowing 210 yards, but remember, that performance was against QB Brandon Weeden’s first career start.
It will be interesting to see if Flacco and the Ravens can continue their quest to return to the AFC championship game in winning fashion week 2, or if Mike Vick and the Eagles show that they turned last week’s rusty offense into a well-oiled machine. Here are some keys to the game to look out for Sunday.
Ravens 3 Keys to Victory
1) Contain Vick and the Speedsters
The Ravens have always been known for their tremendous defense and they are going need to prove that even though the Eagles are younger and faster, it’s not always a sprint to the finish. Baltimore is going to have their hands full trying to deal with arguably the fastest trio at quarterback, running back, and wide receiver in Vick, LeSean McCoy, and DeSean Jackson. If the Baltimore defense can stop Vick and the speedsters from racking up yards and connecting on big plays, a Ravens victory will come a little easier.
2) Give Flacco the Necessary Time
Joe Flacco and the offense are looking for another strong performance but this week the offensive line has to deal with a pass rushing combo that is one to be feared. Jason Babin and Trent Cole had a combined 29 sacks last year rushing from the edges, and the offensive line needs to be ready. The Eagles defense coached by Juan Castillo are going to be looking to get to Flacco early and often and disrupt that no huddle offense as much as possible. If Baltimore’s o-line keeps Flacco upright, the no huddle could mean no chance for the Eagles.
3) Control the Clock
If Baltimore can get the car started with the first two keys to the game, the third and final key should mean a victory for the Ravens. The Ravens need to control the clock and dominate the Eagles in time of procession in order to come away with a win. One way to help out an aging defense against a younger faster offense is to keep the D on the sidelines. With a little more dosage of Ray Rice, a nicely executed offense, and a solid defensive performance, the Ravens should control the flow of the game.
Eagles 3 Keys to Victory
1) Limit Turnovers
Last week the Eagles had 5 turnovers, and if that kind of ragged performance happens against the Ravens, this game could be the blowout of the week. We all saw in week one why Ed Reed is one of the most revered safeties in the game, and if the Eagles want a chance to win, they need to keep the ball out of his hands and under their own wings.
2) Establish McCoy and the Run Game
McCoy only had 12 rushes through the first three quarters last week against the Browns and Andy Reid knows that he needs to increase that number and get McCoy involved early. McCoy was the fourth leading rusher in the league last year with 1,309 yards, but McCoy had the highest yards per carry within the top five rushers in the league. McCoy got the Eagles 5.5 yards per carry last week but for some reason wasn’t called on often. If the Eagles want to get rolling on offense, they need to feed LeSean the rock.
3) Keep the Raven’s Defense Guessing
One of the basic ingredients to an effective offense against a stout defense is to keep them guessing. Andy Reid certainly has the tools to accomplish just that, but as last week showed in route to Vick’s career high 56 passing attempts, Reid doesn’t always like to run a balanced offense. If the Eagle’s offensive can mix up a nice blend or rushing and passing, they can keep the Ravens defense guessing as to what is coming at them. Philly has the weapons to catch the Raven’s defense off guard as well. Mike Vick has the arm strength and the speed at receiver to knock a home run out of the park in a matter of seconds if the Ravens get caught off guard. And the best way to keep a defense off guard is to keep them wondering what’s next. If the Eagles can accomplish this essential key to the game, the Eagles could be the ones bragging about their 2-0 record, not the Ravens.
Match-Up to Keep an Eye On
This week the key match-up of the game falls right in line with the rest of the keys to the game. The match-up to watch closely in this AFC vs NFC matchup is going to be the Raven’s Michael Oher against the pass rush of Jason Babin and Trent Cole. This is the first season where Michael Oher has actually lived up to his billing in his movie and actually protected Flacco’s blindside. Andy Reid knows this and he will be sending a vicious pass rush coming right at Flacco. If Oher can protect his quarterback and fend off the pass rush of Babin and Cole, the Ravens could potentially dominate on offense. If the Babin and Cole are all over Flacco as much as the annoying political ads are all over television, then the no huddle offense could be stalling early.
The Ravens and Eagles matchup this week will be one of the best games of the week. I do expect to see a much improved Eagles offense this week, but I still think the visiting team travels back to Baltimore with a 2-0 record. Flacco will lay claim to his statement this week that the price for his contract extension isn’t getting any cheaper, but just not quite in the same scoring fashion as last week. I see the Ravens claiming victory is this contest over the Eagles 27-17.