Week two is almost in the books and after some exciting games, we can set our eyes on week three. Some teams are 2-0, others are 1-1, and well, the rest are 0-2. The Baltimore Ravens are one of the 2-0 teams, as they get ready to face off against the Jacksonville Jaguars in what should be another exciting game.
Before I dig into this week’s game, here’s some final thoughts regarding their first two wins.
The Ravens are 2-0, but not a very good 2-0 team. Sure, at the end of the day, a win is a win. However, they managed to barely beat the Bills and the Browns, two teams who let’s be honest, weren’t going to the Superbowl this year.
I’m by no means saying that Baltimore doesn’t deserve to be 2-0. They won those games fair and square, hard earned and much needed to move on from their 5-11 season a year ago. What I am saying is that they have yet to face off against a Superbowl caliber opponent. Until then, every game will be held under a microscope, as pundits try to find out what exactly this Ravens team is capable of.
The defense has held up in clutch situations, something it failed to do last year. I remember sitting on my couch watching games that were so close and hoped that one interception would happen to seal the game, or that one final stop. It never happened. It seems that the tides have turned this year. Eric Weddle and CJ Mosely both made critical picks against the Browns and hopefully that was signs of what is to come. The Ravens brass made it clear that this season would be focused on improving the secondary and creating turnovers.
Mike Wallace has been a stud on offense. Joe Flacco seems to have great chemistry with Wallace. I was one of the ones who didn’t think too highly of the offseason move, to sign the veteran wideout, but now, I’m a happy camper. It’s one of those things where you assume the worse but know the potential is great. So far, the proof is in the pudding; Wallace is still a reliable target.
The special teams unit is the best. The late signing of Devin Hester pretty much secured that as he has had a couple of solid returns already and the unit blocked a kick this past week against Cleveland.
The offense, in general, seems to be showing a lot of bright spots, but with bright spots comes a few dark ones.
The run game isn’t there. I’m not sure if Marc Trestaman is part of the issue or the guys running the ball; Justin Forsett and Terrance West. Maybe the return of rookie Kenneth Dixon will help out. However, the RB unit isn’t exactly showing they can be dependable week to week. After a decent week one showing against a tough Bills defense, the Browns were supposed to be an easy defeat. They were intended to be able to run all over them…Of course, things didn’t turn out that way.
Flacco seems to be slowly building confidence, but he is clearly struggling at times, especially when under pressure. It appears that he isn’t confident in his abilities to move around, and that is understandable. The man is coming off of an ACL tear, something that is never taken lightly. Sometimes he shows some excellent plays, moving the chains and then other times, he seems to be throwing flat footed and not as accurate as he usually throws. His confidence will build as the season moves forwards but the question is, how long will it take?
With 14 games left on the schedule, the 2-0 start is very much needed. The last four weeks of the schedule are the toughest; road games against Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and New England, won’t be easy, add in a trap game vs. the Eagles and it’s clear that playoff hopes might come down to those last four games. In other words, they need to win as many games as possible before the last quarter of the season.
The Ravens are about to head on the road again, this time, to face off against a 0-2 Jags team. If this doesn’t spell trap, I don’t know what does. Jacksonville hasn’t started off the way they wished, and they will be desperate for a win. If Baltimore gets comfortable, they could let this game slip away.
Three keys to success for Ravens
- The defense must maintain Blake Bortles and that Jags offense. After watching film from the Browns/Ravens game, they’re gonna be creative in finding ways to run the ball and pass. Play action has seemed effective against Baltimore so far, and Bortles is quite mobile, so it’s possible we see him moving around the field himself. Any minor mistakes from the Ravens defense will be taken advantage of.
- Ravens must get the run game going early. After hearing about all the effort being put into getting back to the basics this offseason, coach John Harbaugh did not shy away from his displeasure with last season’s run game. So far, the team hasn’t shown much improvement, and that could make or break this game and maybe even the season. Justin Forsett and Terrance West need to be reliable. Both are fighting for that number 1 spot and maybe that has something to do with last week’s struggles. Opposing defenses will eventually catch on to the screen passes and short throws to the outside. Once that happens, it will be hard to stretch the field. This team must find a way to run the ball and do it well.
- Limit turnovers, penalties, and mistakes. The Ravens always seem to find themselves in tight situations whether it’s from flags, throwing picks or having miscommunications with coverage on defense. Flacco must protect the ball because luck can be hard to come by after a while. If anything, the defense will need to force a turnover or two…or three! Little brain farts that tend to draw penalties can hurt. Let’s not forget about the Jags/Ravens game last year where the refs blew a call that would’ve given the Ravens the win. The following day the NFL admitted to its mistake and that Baltimore should’ve been the victors. I’m sure the sour taste will be there Sunday.
I have a feeling Baltimore comes out on top with a third win this week. I’m gonna carve up a 30-27 win for my bold prediction. Get ready for another gut-wrenching Ravens game, cheers!