Setting the Stage
Last week, the Cards came back in the 4th quarter to earn a 27 - 27 tie with the Detroit Lions. Ravens destroyed the Dolphs.
Ravens' Last Game
As Sunpapers beat writer, Mike Preston put it: "Miami was terrible, but that wasn’t the Ravens’ problem." Ravens blew up the Miami Dolphins 59 - 10. Lamar Jackson started out like a flaming fire-cracker, completing 10 of 11 passes fr 210 yards and 4 TD's. He finished withh 324 passing yards and 4 TD's. According to Preston: Jackson "threw some tight spirals into tight windows and showed great touch on the long ball. Without question, this was the best day of his professional career and he appeared quite comfortable in the pocket."
Ravens in a Nutshell
Talented team playing in a very tough division."
QB ..08 Jackson...03 R Griffin III...07 McSorley
RB....21 Ingram II...35 Edwards...43 J Hill
WR....15 M Brown...83 Snead...10 Moore
WR ...80 Boykin...11 Roberts...12 J Scott
TE......86 Boyle...89 Andrews...81 Hurst
LT.....79 Stanley...74 J Hurst...64 Senat
LG...77 Bozeman...65 Mekari...72 Powers
OC 68 Skura...
RT...78 O Brown
Defensive Interior Line
DE - 97 Z Allen...90 Bullard...91 Dogbe
NT - 98 Peters, 72 M Brown
DE - 95 Gunter, 93 McDonald
SAM - 55 C Jones, 50 Reed
ILB - 43 Reddick, 59 Walker
MLB - 58 Hicks, 42 Gardeck...47 Z Turner
WILL - 56 Suggs, 54 Marsh
LCB - 33 Murphy...27 K Peterson
RCB - 20 Brock...25 C Jones,
SS - 36 Swearinger...35 D Thompson,,
FS - 32 Baker...38 J Thompson... 28 C Washington... 40 Tillman*
Matchup: Ravens Passing Attack vs. Cardinal Pass Defense
Speed kills and so we guess rookie Marquis Brown is the "killer." He caught four passses for 147 yds and two TD's. Raven pass blockers gave Jackson ample time to throw and Miami was fully intimidated by M Brown and backed off tight coverage thereby opening up the running lanes. TE Andrews also enjoyed a productive day with 8 catches for 108 yds and a TD.
Cardinals are suiting up without CBs Patrick Peterson and Robert Alford, but backups Tramaine Brock, Chris Jones and Murphy stepped up admirably last week. Just as Harbaugh took advantage of new Miami coaches, Matt Patricia exploited Arizoma inexperience and weaknesses.Difference was that the Cardinals appeared to figure things out in time to mount an impressive comeback in the 4th quarter whereas Miami apparently mailed it in.
In the mobile and speedy Lamar Jackson, the Ravens may give the Cardinal a vision of what the future might be with similarly-equipped QB Kyler Murray, Expect the Cards to rotate spies to contain Jackson (though we've arbitrarily assigned Budda Baker the spy role for now). Cards had problems handling Detroit's TE (Hockenson) so expect Andrews to have another big day come Sunday.
Key Matchuups - M Brown vs. C. Jones and Murphy...L Jackson vs. B Baker...C Jones and T Suggs vs. Stanley and O Brown...Andrews vs. Swearinger
Matchup: Ravens Rushing Attack vs. Cardinal Run Defense
Ravens ended up with 265 rushing yards. To give you an idea of Baltimore's run dominance - Mark Ingram started the game with a 49-yd run on the Ravens' first play from scrimmage. He ran hard and also showed deceptive speed and some wiggle. Backup Gus Edward gave Ingram some breathing room and Justice Hill was the outside threat, but Ingram (107 yds on 14 carries) was the main dude. FB Patrick Ricard was impressive in a lead-blocking role.
Raven RB's ran behind Ricard and linemen Marshal Yanda and Orlando Brown Jr off the right side.
Cards had trouble handling the run all through preseason, but they did a credible job in this dept. vs. Detroit. Nevertheless, you'd have to expect Harbaugh to pound the rock early and often behind Ingram and his backups to test the Cardinals' commitment to containing the run.
Key Matchup: Ingram vs. Hicks...Skura, Yanda and O Brown vs. Allen, Peters and Gunter.
01 Murray, 07 Hundley
31 D Johnson, 29 Edmonds, 37 Foster
WR - 11 Fitzgerald...14 Byrd..., 89 Isabella,
WR - 13 Kirk...19 KS Johnson
15 Crabtree...16 Sherfield
TE - 85 Clay, 87 M Williams
LT- ...74 Humphries...66 Miles,
LG - 67 Pugh
OC- 53 Shipley, 52 Cole
RG- 64 Sweezy, 65 Gailliard...68 Vujnovich
RT - 71 J Murray...79 J Mills...78 Toth
DT.....98 B Williams...42 Ricard
NT...97 Pierce...94 Mack
Rush....90 McPhee...56 T Williams...45 J Ferguson
MLB.....48 Onwuasor...50 Alaka
WLB....40 K Young...49 Board
LCB....44 M Humphrey...24 Carr
SS....23 T Jefferson...41 Levine Sr....Trawick
FS.....29 E Thomas III...36 Clark...32 Elliott
RCB...22 J Smith...34 Averett...27 Cyrus Jones...28 Bethel
Matchup: Cardinal Passing Attack vs. Lion Pass Defense
Miami couldn't handle B Williams and M Pierce in the inside (Pierce put pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick several times. Raven LBs were spent plenty of time in the Miami backfield both on the pass rush and disrupting the run. Middle linebacker Patrick Onwuasor displayed excellent closing speed,and linebackers Kenny Young, linebackers Matthew Judon and Pernell McPhee got consistent pressure on Fitzpatrick. Onwuasor led the Ravens with five tackles while Judon had three.
Dolphs had only one receiver (DeVAnte Parker) who could challenge Balt CBs. Raven DBs did a great job running to the ball and immediately tackling Dolph pass catchers on short pass completions. Former Cardinal safety Tony Jefferson was especially effective. Humphrey and Thomas had one interception apiece.
Murray looked like a rookie and played like a rookiel for the first three quarters of the Lions game, but hooked up on a few "wow" plays with Cardinal receivers in the 4Q to almost pull out a "W." What we won't know until late Sunday is "which Kyler Murray will show up? KIngsbury shouldered most of the blame for "getting too cute" with his playcalling earlier in the game. It will be interesting to see whether Hargrave will "unleash the furies" once again or whether he'll have to play things closer to the vest.
As in Game #1, one factor we'll keep our eyes on is the percentage of one-on-one battles Cardinal receivers win vs. Raven corners. Another will be whether David Johnson can repeat his effort vs. Detroit.
K Murray vs. Onwuasor...Fitz vs. Humphrey...Kirk vs. J Smith...Crabtree vs. Averett...Cardinal OL vs. Williams, Pierce, Wormley and McPhee...E Thomas II vs. D Johnson
Matchup: Cardinal Running Attack vs. Lion Run Defense
Ravens held Miami to 21 rushing yards on 12 carries with Dolphs made one-dimensional with 32 pass attempts. Ravens only dressed 4 linemen (due, perhaps, to the heat) and went with more situation players and substitutioms.
What we don't know is whether Baltimore's run defense was that good or Miami's was that bad - i.e. will the Cardinals be able to mount a credible runnning game? Or will Baltimore "stone 'em.".
The two OLs...D Johnson vs E Thomas II
Ravens Special Teams
K 09 Tucker
P ..... 04 Koch
H 04 Koch
LS 46 Cox
KR 43 J Hill
PR 27 Cyrus Jones
Cardinals Special Teams
P - ...02 Lee
K- ....05 Gonzalez
H - ...02 Lee
LS - 46 Brewer
KR - 89 Isabella
PR - 13 Kirk
Matchup: Lions Special Teams vs. Cardinal Special Teams
Tucker converted his only FG attempt (a 34-yarder). Koch only had to punt one time (for 56-yds). Ravens averaged 14.5 yds on two punt returns. Coverage teams allowed a 23-yd KO return.
Last week, the Cardinal Special Teams unit graded out #1 by Football Outssiderrs. Gonzalez looked "steady as she goes" vs. Detroit...Lee is one of the best punters in the NFL...Cardinal returners aren't afraid of running it out of the end zone...It appears that a few Cardinal roster-decisions favored our retaining lights-out tacklers on special teams. They made a few impressive plays vs. Lions.
Tucker vs. Gonzalez (edge Tucker) ...Koch vs. Lee (edge Lee) ...Hill and Jones vs. Isabella and Kirk (edge Balt)
Coaching / Intangibles
Ravens (like the Lions early on) recognized that the Dolphins were still in "Preseason mode." So while Miami was busy "finding out about themselves. Harbaugh & Co. took advantage of this with multiple fronts and trickeration (as in a fake punt).
Ravens lineup includes: HC: John Harbaugh...OC: Don Martindale...DC Greg Roman...ST: Chris Horton
Cardinal coaches include: HC Kliff Kingsbury, OC (Kingsbury - Tom Clements is passing game coordinator). DC Vance Joseph, ST Jeff Rodgers (a key coaching hoidover).
Harbaugh is one of the highest regarded HC in the NFL. Kingsbury is the creative "Newbie." Harbaugh ate Flores' lunch in Miami last Sunday. Kingsbury has plenty of tape to learn from. Expect Harbaugh to try to exploit Kingsbury's inexperience a la what he did in Miami. But expect Kingsbury and Josepth to counter this with a few clever moves of their own.
Burning Question 0- Will Harbaugh and the Ravens chalk up another mass-murder Sunday? Or will the Cards under Kingsbury make a credible showing and maybe even win the sucker?
How to Beat the Ravens
Based on their Miami score, beating the Ravens won't be easy but do-able. (1) Contain Jackson. (2) Ditto Ingram. (3) Double cover M Brown (or play more zone). (4) Occupy their TE (Andrews) with a blitz-heavy defense. (5) Score 30 points.