The Philadelphia Eagles will have to withstand an all out assault from the Baltimore Ravens if they hope to get out to their first 2-0 start since 2004.
The good news is that they’ll likely have Wide Receivers Jeremy Maclin (7 catches, 96 yards last week) and DeSean Jackson (4 catches, 77 yards) to help them. Both men missed practice time this week. Jeremy Maclin had a hip pointer and DeSean Jackson dealt with a hamstring injury. Without those two players, the Eagles would have certainly had more of an uphill battle on their hands.
The key to this game is probably going to be defense. Both teams have solid defensive units and will likely have to rely heavily on them today. Ray Lewis may be 37, but he is still playing at a very high level.
Offensively the Eagles will need Michael Vick to make better decisions under center and limit the turnovers. This has been a familiar theme for Vick, but coming off of a 4 interception performance against the Browns, it will be even more crucial. Also, if the Eagles are going to have success against the strong Ravens D, they’re going to have to mix plays up better than they did last week. Passing the ball 70% of the time gives opponents the edge. If they know you’re going to pass, they settle in and key on that. Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg must do a better job of mixing in the run. LeSean McCoy (20 carries, 110 yards) was excellent last week, and hopefully he can replicate that performance.
Joe Flacco, the South Jersey native is excellent at moving the ball north and south, and that will test the Eagles secondary. Juan Castillo and the defense may have looked good against Brandon Weeden and the Browns, but Flacco and the Ravens will provide much more of a challenge.
Many pundits are picking the Ravens in a close one. I’m certainly hoping that the Eagles are not as bad as they played last week, and that the Ravens aren’t as good as they played last week in stomping the Bengals 44-17. If Vick and the offense can find a better rhythm than last week, and the D holds up, the Eagles will have a chance to keep it close. Make no mistakes, this going to be a real challenge.
Andy Reid is 0-1 against John Harbaugh, his former special teams coach.
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