Run The Ball & Score Early
In Week 11, the Baltimore Ravens face a Carolina Panthers team that has been plagued with injuries and has been struggling so far this year. However, Carolina is ranked 5th against the pass, allowing just 195.2 yards a game. On the other hand, their run defense ranks 27th, allowing 131.6 yards a game. In fact, the Panthers gave up 186 yards rushing to Tampa Bay last week. Carolina’s linebacking corps has been depleted a bit too; Jon Beason, who spent much of the season at weak-side linebacker, took over at middle linebacker in week 10 after Dan Connor suffered a season-ending hip injury.
The Ravens should attack with their running game, powered by Ray Rice and Willis McGahee. This will force the Panthers to commit additional defenders in the box. Eventually, QB Joe Flacco will find his receivers in some favorable match-ups and he will be able to work off the play-action— which he has been effective with.
Running the ball seems like the right approach in this game, but let’s see if Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron goes with this strategy. The biggest temptation for Cameron is wanting to get the ball to his talented receiving corps and coming out with a passing attack first.
Much criticism has been made on the Ravens defense this year for giving up leads in the fourth quarter. In fairness to the defense, they’ve bailed out the offense numerous times whenever the offense turned the ball over. For example in Atlanta, as described by PressBox Online,
“Trailing by 10 points early in the third quarter, the Falcons took possession on the Ravens’ 39 after a Joe Flacco interception… [Atlanta] settled for a field goal, and the Ravens trailed 13-0 instead of 17-0 and were never hopelessly out of the game after that.”
Bottom line the for the offensive: control the ball, turn their possessions into positive gains in either field position or points, and eliminate turnovers.
Another area, which doesn’t help the defense, is the lack of production from the offense on the road. As pointed out by Yahoo Sports, “In five games away from M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens have been shut out four times and have scored a total of one field goal in the first half.”
In this match-up, the offense must start to reverse this trend and score in the first quarter. Further, getting an early lead will help enable the defensive to be more aggressive with their play calling.