Okay I was a bit off on my prediction last week..... eh, a lot off. But hey, it's early in the season, and we should expect that sometimes we cannot predict weird circumstances involved in the game that led to our loss, and sometimes we don't know a team as well as it's fans do.
With our up-coming opponent, we know very well. At least, we have had multiple experiences facing them in the regular, and post season. Though this next game has an added twist. The pats defense this time around is top 3 (though its still early) and Baltimore's defense is in the bottom 10 (though again... it's still early). But this is all based on yards, and then we have the offenses, where our both should be really good. Though at this point, the pats offense will be without Hernandez, and has struggled last game against a top 5 defense. Whereas the Ravens so far look to be as potent as ever on that side of the ball.
Did we somehow switch teams? Certainly gives off a nice, new spin on Sunday's game. Two of the top 3 AFC teams will be facing off with each other which what would surely be the game of the week. Here's what I think we should do to come out with the win.
1) OL must be ready this time
I might as well get the obvious out of the way early, and you should get used to seeing this in multiple "Keys to the Game" posts by now. Last game Brady was sacked 4 times, and rushed even more. OL was putrid. Some of the blame goes on Donald Thomas, but it was moreso an all around effort (Vollmer did look the best among them). As Football Outsiders have pointed out, The Card's defensive line is just amazingly amazing, and now they will face off against another really good DL, and front 7 overall.
Make no mistake. They will rush the HECK out of Brady. So they need to be ready. I say do what the Ravens currently do. Snap the ball, and pass within 3 seconds. Edelman and Welker will be key this game getting open quickly, and with Reed and Pollard at Safety, I am hesitant to want Brady to pass it deep a ton. Most of all though, we just want Brady to stay clean.
2) Use lots of no Huddle
The Ravens have big dudes on the DL, and guys who play fast all around the defense. Play no huddle, and get them tired. Plus we are more effective in the no huddle. To beat a tough defense, you get them moving fast, and get them tired while playing efficiently. Look what we did with the no huddle against a top 5 defense. We were effective. And unlike last week, I don't want to see random draw plays. Just one or two and thats IF Brady himself sees the defense playing more loose.
3) Stop Torrey Smith
The Ravens have two good WRs in Boldin and Torrey Smith. Both can go deep, but Torrey is the bigger playmaker of the two. I know there are other Baltimore WRs, but these two are their top targets. Lately the Ravens have been passing the ball more than running, so we should probably double Torrey, and whoever guards Boldin will hopefully have a good day. Take away the main deep threat, and force everything under 20 yards. Control the run, force 3rd downs (and then 4th downs! please!), prevent the deep play, and we'll have a good chance of beating the offense.
4) Put Flacco on the ground
I am hesitant to really say blitz often.... they have good WRs, so it may be more important to get at least coverage sacks while defending their no huddle spread offense. So the front 4 needs to have a big day. I think it may be wise to put in Cunningham at End. He gets pressure much easier than Nink, and the last time he played the Ravens he had a sack-fumble, and set the edge extremely well. Though it was a 3-4 then, but Nink has not impressed me as far, and I think Cunningham should get the chance this game. We MUST get pressure from the front 4. Those guys must disrupt the rhythm of their passing game, and hopefully contain the outside so Flacco has no where to move up to (and Ray Rice has a difficult time to get around the corner).
5) This is the time for Ridley to make a name for himself
Facing off the big, bad Baltimore Defense (Don't let the numbers fool you imo), it will be very important for Ridley to have a very good day here. I mentioned our no huddle offense to make the Balt's defense tired, and running the ball effectively, in and out of the no huddle, will be important. I will say that we must not stray from what is working though. If making short-medium passes gets the job done well, making the defense tired in the process, than go for it. But we need Baltimore to worry about the run game, and open up that pass.
Predictions: Brady will get sacked at least two times, Ridley will get over 80 yards, Pats defense will limit Ray Rice to under 80 yards, Flacco and Brady will both have 2 TDs, though Flacco will throw an INT. Field position is extremely important this game.
Score- Pats 28- Raven 20.