Week 1: Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets
Monday September 13, 2010 7:00 PM
Line: Ravens +2 O/U 39
Welcome back constant reader. Today’s the day, tonight’s the night! After seven long month’s of waiting the Ravens have finally returned to start their 2010/2011 NFL Campaign.
Week one of the NFL season promises to live up to the hype thanks to Roger Goodell’s minions scheduling a whole host of marquee matchups. Cowboys at Redskins, Bengals at Patriots, and of course Monday night’s clash between two pre-season Superbowl contenders Ravens at Jets.
Make no mistake about it; Rex and his not-ready-for-primetime players are certainly prepared for all out Armageddon. The Baltimore, New Jersey, New York Jets have made a number of marquee acquisitions during the off season designed to get them over the hump of the AFC Championship game and into the Superbowl. They are talented, deep at most positions, and they will be determined to open their new home with a bang. Simply stated, they will be a difficult team to beat.
With that in mind let’s take a look at this week’s match up.
RavensGab.com Keys to the Game
Minimize the Penalties
The Ravens struggled all of last season with stupid penalties. This off-season John Harbaugh has made it a point to coach smarter football and emphasize the need to not give up stupid yardage. The losses of certain repeat offenders like Frank Walker will undoubtedly help in this department. If the Ravens can stay disciplined and keep off the zebra radar, they will be in a much better position to control the flow of the game and force the Jets into mistakes of their own.
Possess the Ball
The Ravens have shown a fair amount of no huddle in the pre-season. If they can keep that up here and manage the game clock by possessing the ball for a number of long sustained drives, it will force Mark Sanchez to have to throw the ball more often, which is not his strongest suit (20 INT’s last season). As always this may seem like a no brainer, but if they other team doesn’t have the ball, they cannot score.
Keep it simple and win this game.
The Jets have a few issues on their offensive line. It’s not the most cohesive unit, and at times has struggled dearly to protect Mark Sanchez. As I stated above, Sanchez is at his weakest when he’s forced to move around and make tough throws. Although he may yet find his accuracy and his rhythm, he’s still a young quarterback who will be prone to many mistakes. Couple that with the fact that the Ravens still have question marks surrounding their secondary, and this could be easily the most important Key to the game. Terrell and the rest of the Ravens front line is going to have to get pressure on Sanchez, otherwise the team could be drawn into a fire fight.
Stop the Run
Stuffing the run will be an early part of beating the Jets. No other team in the league ran the ball last season as many times as the jets did. Given the fact that they still have a growing quarterback, this is not likely to change anytime soon. Expect LT, and Shonn Green to get a healthy number of carries in an attempt to extend drives and weaken the Ravens defense.
Get Up Early and Take the Crowd Out of the Game
To say that the Jets and their fans will be fired up Monday night is to state that there’s a little bit of sand at the beach. This is the season opener, the Monday night opener, in a brand spanking new stadium, for a team with the highest expectations of greatness. Getting up early on the Jets will have a crushing effect on their ego and will silence the New Jersey faithful. Take away their heart and victory will be that much easier to obtain.
Ravens Gab Predictions
This will be as daunting a challenge as the Ravens may face in the first 10 weeks of the season. Its not about talent at this point, its about what team wants it more. You know that Rex, and Bart, and Jim Leonhard want this win badly. They can taste it. They will be focused and determined to stick it to their former mentor Ray Lewis. That being said, I don’t know that there will be many who can contain the Ravens’ offense this season, and I certainly don’t think the Jets will be able to. Remember how god Joe looked last season in weeks 1-6 before he got hurt? He did that with Mason, Clayton and Kelly Washington. Now imagine what he’s going to do with Mason, Boldin, and Houshmandzadeh.
What’s Our Name?
Ravens 27 — Jets 17
Ray Lewis knew exactly what he was doing when he commented on the Jets. In essence he was turning the tables, he won’t be intimidated nor let his teamates be either. The key for the offense is protecting Flacco and they will look to attack the Jets defense. The Ravens defense needs to stop the run and force QB Sanchez into some errant throws. In the end the Ravens will take care of business
Ravens 26 – Jets 17
As long as Baltimore stays away from costly turnovers they’ll be fine. Sure it sounds easier said than done but the New York offense shouldn’t scare anyone. So it’s important to pin them back deep and make them sustain drives. The Baltimore defense has always been tough against the run and I’d expect the same on Monday night. Oddly enough the defense has been overlooked this pre-season and I think with Mattison in his second year at the controls the D won’t have that same feeling out period that had them sputtering until Week 8 in ‘09.
The game plan should be simple. Make Mark Sanchez beat you.
Ravens 20 – Jets 13