After yesterday’s sloppy, gross weather, we’re getting a bit of a break today, as the sun is out and shining brightly over M&T Bank Stadium.
The Ravens will hope to steer away the dark clouds that started creeping over their team last week when they take on the 1-5 Cardinals this afternoon. Nothing like a match-up with a one-win team to take the stench off a loss to a previously one-win team a week before, huh?
Here are three keys to today’s game from the Ravens’ perspective:
1. Keep track of Fitz
Larry Fitzgerald can beat you deep, he can beat you over the middle and he can beat you at the line of scrimmage. He’s fast, physical and can run any route in the book. The Ravens will have to be wary of Fitzgerald’s playmaking ability today, especially now that he has a strong-armed quarterback in Kevin Kolb who can fire the ball deep down the field. Given that the Cardinals don’t have a top-notch wideout opposite Fitzgerald, the Ravens can roll coverage toward Arizona’s top playmaking threat and make sure that he doesn’t go off and have a big day.
2. Get Rice rolling
John Harbaugh said it himself this week - eight carries for Ray Rice just isn’t going to do it. The Ravens need to remember who the heartbeat of this offense is, and feed that guy the ball. Rice was the third-ranked player in the league in total yards from scrimmage entering last weekend, and yet he got just 13 touches versus the Jaguars. Rice very nearly leads the Ravens in both rushing and receiving yards, and yet he only saw the ball five times in the first half against Jacksonville. That won’t cut it. Rice needs to be fed the ball early and he needs to be fed the ball often today for Baltimore’s offense to get back on track.
3. Find an offensive rhythm
It’s kind of a “chicken and the egg” thing: Is an offense out of rhythm because it’s not picking up first downs and moving the ball, or is an offense not putting up yardage because it can’t get into a groove? Regardless, the Ravens need to show that they can get put the pieces back together today against the Cardinals. This is a perfect defense for the Ravens to face coming off an atrocious offensive performance; Arizona is 28th in the league in passing defense and ranks 26th in the NFL in total defense. Yes, the Ravens struggled mightily last week against Jacksonville’s tough front-seven and had trouble moving the ball. But if Cam Cameron’s group has issues today against a much softer Arizona team, it’ll be a sign of some serious issues in Baltimore.