The Ravens look to continue riding their hot streak this week in Philadelphia against the 1-0 Eagles, who are coming off an ugly win over the Browns in Cleveland, a game that featured eight total interceptions.
Although the Eagles' offense struggled for most of game against Browns, and Baltimore pummeled 2011 playoff participant Cincinnati, those curious Vegas odds-makers have Philly as 2.5 point favorite heading into their home opener against Baltimore.
Their algorithmic contention must be that the Eagles will play much better than they did last week, while the Ravens are due to crash into the emotional basement of a week 2 letdown on the road, like they did last year against the Titans in Nashville.
The Ravens' new, high-flying offense featuring Flacco ripping lasers to specific wide receiver-bound spots as if the football field were a grid from the matrix, but might not have what it takes against the elite secondary of Philadelphia.
Here are some keys to this matchup:
Whatever new Ravens quarterback coach Jim Caldwell did to prepare Flacco for Week 1, he should do it again, because it worked!
Joe finished 21-29 for 299 yards and two touchdowns and was sharp all night. Historically, he has fared better in seasons where he has a quarterback coach to serve as liaison between he and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
Last year, in the Ravens' four losses, all on the road (Tennessee, Jacksonville, Seattle, San Diego), Flacco was notably inaccurate and inconsistent.
This year, with the addition of Caldwell, along with Flacco’s increased control of play call changes at the line of scrimmage, and after Week 1’s stellar offensive performance, it will be interesting to see how Joe handles his first big test on the road of the 2012 season in hostile Philadelphia.
A Running Eagle?
Eagles running back LeSean McCoy is one of the most explosive players in the NFL today. He moves laterally with the quickness of a camera flash, often leaving defenders grabbing air when they think they have him for a loss, and has the breakaway speed to go the distance if he gets into the second level of a defense.
The Ravens' defense has looked susceptible to the run when facing good backs as of late, including their last two games at the hands of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, in last year’s AFC Championship when he played for the Patriots and in Week 1 against the Bengals.
Green-Ellis racked up 91 yards on 18 carries last week and could’ve went for more if they hadn’t been forced to abandon the run game after falling behind. This shaky run defense is only exaggerated by the absence of Terrell Suggs, who cannot be adequately replaced at this time.
Rookie Courtney Upshaw showed signs of his potential in Week 1, looking pretty nimble on his 270-pound frame, but remains a far cry from T-Sizzle, while Paul Kruger’s play only raised questions about his ability to handle playing every down.
The Ravens must find a way to corral McCoy or they’ll be in for a long day of watching the back of his jersey and not being able to get off the field by forcing punts.
Whenever facing Mike Vick, a team’s defensive game plan begins and ends with stopping No. 7 in green. Ever since bursting onto the scene as a Hokie freshman against Florida St. in the 1999 Sugar Bowl, Vick has been one of the most electric quarterbacks in football history, combining running back like mobility, with freakish arm-strength, accuracy, and speed of release as never before seen, and in a way that undoubtedly wakes defensive coordinators in the middle of the night screaming, sweating and shaking.
The Ravens have handled him well in the past because of their pursuing style of defense and commitment to spying him at all times. It will be important to get to Vick in the pass rush and lay some hits if opportunities arise when he runs, so that he can’t dice the Ravens' defense like he’s done to so many others over the years.
The Ravens' first road test of the year is also the first of four 2012 games against the talented and deep NFC East division.
Although just a short, brotherly trip up I-95, Lincoln Financial Field is a screaming banshee, maniacal place to try and win an NFL road game.
With future dates looming against the Super Bowl defending Giants, the star studded Cowboys, and the emerging, RG3-led Redskins, the Ravens want to start this set off on the right foot and keep their current position in first place of the AFC North.
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