Match-Up: Arizona Cardinals (1-5) @ Baltimore Ravens (4-2)
Arizona comes into this game with all sorts of issues on offense and defense. QB Kevin Kolb has been erratic and the teams’ defense has been inconsistent. They have lost 5 games in a row and they haven’t had a win on the road their past 10 outings. All these factors means nothing because as Ravens fans know, ‘on any given Sunday,’ –especially if the offense fails to improve after their (non) performance in Jacksonville.
Chalk it up:
CB Patrick Peterson vs. WR Anquan Boldin: Rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson is living up to his college rating, one of the best corners coming out of the draft. Jacksonville put their best corner on Boldin which was effective in throwing off Flacco’s rhythm. Boldin will be extra motivated playing against his former team.
DE Darnell Dockett/OLB Clark Haagans vs. Ravens Offensive line: Dockett can line up at defensive tackle (inside) or at the defensive end position. Dockett can cause protection issues and disrupt the backfield. OLB Clark Haagans has been playing at a high level and the Cardinals are giving more playing time to a talented rookie OLB in Sam Acho, who had his first sack last week against Pittsburgh. The Ravens O-line must open running lanes for Ray Rice in order to help get this unit back on track.
WR Larry Fitzgerald vs. Ravens Secondary: Fitzgerald is just too good not to roll coverage his way. Cary Williams or Lardarius Webb should expect help. Fitzgerald has only two games of 100-plus yards this season and hasn’t caught a touchdown pass in three games. But, that goes more towards QB Kolb’s lack of consistency. Fitzgerald is an explosive play-maker and the Ravens can’t let him burn their secondary.
TE Rob Housler/Todd Heap vs. SS Bernard Pollard: Former Ravens tight end Todd Heap has been dealing with a hamstring injury, but Rookie TE Rob Housler is making plays and putting up effective numbers. In 6 games Housler has complied 6 receptions for 69 yards, 11.5 yard ave. Bernard Pollard is perfect for this Ravens defense, he can flat out hit people and has excelled in defending the pass.
QB Kevin Kolb vs. OLB Terrell Suggs (Pagano’s pressure): Kevin Kolb has been erratic because teams are collapsing the pocket and getting to him. Expect less run blitzes this week and more pass blitzes from defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. ‘T-Sizzle’ Suggs continues his rein of pressure, he will be needed to disrupt QB Kevin Kolb’s timing.
Who Makes the Highlight Film:
Jonathan Scruggs: Joe Flacco
No one needs a rapid redemption more than Joe Flacco. Blame the refs, blame the receivers, blame Ray Rice, blame whomever, but Joe needs to start being a winner. He doesn’t have to be Peyton but he does have to find a way to carry his team when the chips are down.
Gene Winner: Ray Rice
Plain and simple, when they commit to running the ball with Rice and co. all will be well for this offense. It’s great to be unpredictable, but they must get back to being a physical unit upfront running the football.
Ben Zinman: Offensive Line
This week the game against the Cardinals is special. It takes place during the same week of the recent debacle. This means knowing the character of this team they should have a take no prisoners attitude, especially the entire offense. The entire offense will appear on the next highlight reel.
Matt Jergensen: Ray Rice
I have a strong feeling that after last week’s fiasco Ray Rice will get the ball – a lot. In the air, on the ground whatever way possible. If the Ravens drop another one it won’t be because they didn’t get their best offensive weapon the ball.