Sunday, October 05, 2008

Ravens to beat's a simple game

The Ravens host the Titans today at M&T Bank Stadium and it doesn’t take long to realize that the strength of each of the respective offenses will go toe to toe with comparable to even more impressive strength from the opposing defense.

Both offenses set up the pass with the run. Neither the Ravens nor the Titans field an imposing vertical threat and it isn’t very often that the Ravens can say that their stable of receivers is superior to that of their opponent. So the winner of this game will be the team that runs the ball more effectively right?

Well now there’s some unique and insightful analysis, eh?

This isn’t rocket science. All 70,000 plus people in attendance today and those watching and listening to Ian Eagle and Solomon Wilcots bring you the game on CBS will know that the Titans will jam the box and force Joe Flacco to beat them. Rex Ryan will look to choke off rookie RB Chris Johnson and preserve the Ravens’ streak of 22 consecutive games of limiting opposing rushers to less than 100 yards.

So the winner of this game comes down to who plays better, Joe Flacco or Kerry Collins, right?

Not necessarily.

The Titans have perhaps the most imposing group of defensive down linemen in the NFL spearheaded by Albert Haynesworth. They are menacing and will create havoc in the backfield. And make no mistake about it, if the Ravens fail on first down, they will lose the football game.

So the key in my opinion will be to slow down the Titans’ defensive front and the way to do that will be to use screen passes and the no huddle attack. Screens force these linemen to stop and think. They also make the linemen waste energy. The no huddle limits substitutions. If the Ravens can drain the collective tank of energy from that front four and make them think more, they will slow them down and that will buy Joe Flacco an extra second or two to make plays downfield. Flacco has shown amazing poise for a rookie in the no huddle and given his collegiate experiences running the no huddle from the gun, Cam Cameron would be wise to place his rookie signal caller squarely in his comfort zone.

The Titans have been riding the hot hand of Chris Johnson, a runner that I compare to Willie Parker. The darting speedsters don’t seem to play all that well against the Ravens defense. They tend to string plays out along the perimeter and the Ravens are quick to the ball and often make plays outside the numbers. They will gang tackle and hit Johnson hard and eventually wear out his competitive will. And that will leave it up to Collins to make plays.

Collins does throw a nice deep pass if the Ravens allow him to sit comfortably in the pocket he will take his shots down field. That said, I don’t see it happening. First, Collins’ weaponry on the outside is very limited, even more so by the knee injury to Justin Gage. Plus I think the 12th man makes a difference today. Ravens’ fans cherished the bitter rivalry with Tennessee and the years removed from the old AFC Central hasn’t dimmed the memories all that much.

After today, M&T will only see the Ravens play once during the next six weeks. I think the hometown crowd makes a big difference and provides the energy that the team’s defense craves. And once they embrace that energy Kerry Collins will become the proverbial chum in waters invested by the sharks in purple.

By 4:30 today, Ravens’ fans will be basking in the glory of a 23-13 Ravens victory.


Harryos29 said...

Tony .. WRONG.. 13-10 loss.(with all due respects.. I predicted roughly the same score)

I just took the POLL... IMHO..the offensive Play Calling was too conservative. We needed more DEEP passes and we need to look at the PLACE KICKING POSITION. Matt has been great for a long time, but his time is near... We cannot afford to have missed FG's every week..that is ..if we want to win!.. Additionally, WE Were JOBBED on the SUGGS Hit to the head (SIC) on COLLINS.. what a poor Call by the Refs.