The Ravens (4-2) have a quick turnaround and are home to take on the Arizona Cardinals (1-5) who have dropped five straight games, along with 10 straight losses on the road. The Ravens must work quickly to improve the offense; the unit had one of it’s worst offensive performances under coach John Harbaugh this past Monday night in Jacksonville.
OPPONENT PREVIEW: ARIZONA CARDINALS
Offseason Moves: Arizona acquired QB Kevin Kolb from Philadelphia for 2nd round pick (2012) and the talented cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. It was much to give up considering Kevin Kolb started 7 games in his career. Time will tell if that trade was worth it’s weight. For now it’s been a slow start for Kolb and the passing game. Kolb has thrown for 1575 yards, 7 TD’s along with 7 interceptions and has been sacked 18 times. The team signed former Ravens in TE Todd Heap, Punter Dave Zastudil and RB Chester Taylor.
Key Draft Selections: Arizona drafted well picking up one of the top cornerbacks in the college, Patrick Peterson. The team also drafted running back William Ryan, however, the rookie was injured in preseason and is on IR. Arizona added to the offense TE Robert Housler who in his limited time behind veteran Todd Heap has been productive. On defense the Cardinals drafted linebacker Sam Acho and defensive end David Carter. The production from the rookies have been limited, except for CB Peterson who is starting.
Offensive Playmakers: The Ravens will have to focus in on containing receiver Larry Fitzgerald 321 rec., 505 yards, 2 TD’s. WR Early Doucet is the second leading receiver on the team (26 rec.) and has 2 TD’s. One of the Cardinals best offensive weapons in running back Beanie Wells may miss two weeks with a knee injury. Wells has 423 yards, 4.6 rushing average, 6 touchdowns. The team may have to fall back on running backs Alfonso Smith and LaRod Stephens-Howling. With former Ravens tight end Todd Heap battling a hamstring injury the past few games, rookie TE Rob Housler has filled in well. In 6 games Housler has complied 6 receptions for 69 yards, 11.5 yard ave.
The offense ranks: 24th in rushing yards (98.0 yards per game) and 14th in passing yards at 240.5 yds. per game.
Defensive Playmakers: Darrnell Docket is a versatile defensive end, he can lineup at the defensive tackle against the run or the end position as an effective pass rusher. Veteran linebackers Clark Haggans and Joey Porter are getting the majority of the snaps, but that may change soon. The team will look to give more playing time to rookie OLB Sam Acho and second year OLB O’Brien Schofield who was drafted last season to help improve the pass rush. Schofiled has 1 sack and Sam Acho recorded his first sack last Sunday Pittsburgh. Rookie CB Patrick Peterson is a solid corner, he has 1 interception and 3 pass deflections on the season.
The defense ranks: 14th against the run (114.2 yds.) and 28th versus the pass (274 yds. per game). The unit has compiled 13 sacks, 4 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles so far this season.
Last Game: The Cardinals at home suffered a 32 – 20 loss to Pittsburgh. While the Cardinals did shut down Pittsburgh’s rushing attack they couldn’t stop the passing game. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 361 yards, 3 TD’s. Part of that was the longest offense play in Steelers history, a 95 scoring strike to Mike Wallace. The Cardinals did come back with in 10 points, but couldn’t contain the Steelers. Kevin Kolb threw for 18/34, 272 yards, 2 TD’s and 1 interception. Beanie Wells ran well 12 for 42 yards but left the game with a knee injury.
Key match-up: CB Patrick Peterson vs. WR Anquan Boldin: Rookie receiver Torrey Smith is doing a decent job as the deep threat, but Arizona might take Jacksonville’s cue and be inclined to put rookie CB Patrick Peterson on WR Anquan Boldin to prevent Flacco from getting into rhythm.
They last time the Cardinals played in Baltimore was 2007. The Ravens won a close game 26-23, and held off a late rally by Arizona’s QB Kurt Warner. Here’s something interesting: In that game Anquan Boldin finished with 181 yards, 14 catches, 2 TD’s for Arizona. Todd Heap finished with 4 receptions for 60 yards for Baltimore.