As a team and organization, the (11-4) Baltimore Ravens should be proud of making it to the playoffs for the third consecutive year. Although this year might not have been as perfect as some fans would have liked, this organization continues to prove that they are one of the best franchises in the NFL.
Staying with Rice
The Ravens offense is committed to the run and fans have to be happy that Ray Rice is getting revved up heading into the playoffs. Rice has a 4.0 rushing average and the offensive line is doing a much better job being physical at the point of attack, enabling Rice to take advantage of some running lanes.
The Bengals rank 20th (116.3 yards a game) against the run. Cincinnati’s MLB Dhani Jones is having a good season, but because the safeties have been hampered with injuries, run support has been an issue with the Bengals.
Attacking the Secondary
In the first match-up against Cincinnati, Joe Flacco had his worst game of the year— throwing 4 interceptions. Flacco has struggled with the Bengals and some of their cover 2 schemes. Cincinnati has a pretty good cornerback tandem with Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall. Yet, this factor can’t disrupt Cam Cameron from trying to attack the Bengals secondary.
Flacco needs to take some shots down the field. Another important goal for the offense is to find a way to get the ball to Anquan Boldin. Having some success against the Bengals secondary will be an important statement heading into the playoffs.
Back to Attack
Last week against the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens generally played it conservative— only calling a few blitzes. Although two costly interceptions by Colt McCoy were due to pressure off the edge, the Ravens real strategy was to wait for McCoy to make the mistake– it proved a good strategy in the end.
This Sunday, the Ravens should get back to being more aggressive with Carson Palmer at the helm. They can’t let Palmer sit back and get comfortable in the pocket. Expect a similar game plan this Sunday like the defense had against the New Orleans Saints— mixing up the looks and being more aggressive with the pressure packages.
In Week 2, the Ravens defense played a masterful game, holding Palmer to just 167 passing yards and not allowing a passing TD. Palmer’s recent success against Baltimore will be a motivating factor for the Ravens defense to do well.
Stop Cedric Benson
First things first: the Ravens front seven must contain Cedric Benson. Of recent, the Bengals offense has been playing well. One main factor is that Benson, along with the running game, has been setting up the passing game for Carson Palmer.
Last week, Ray Lewis and the defense manhandled a the physical Cleveland runner, Peyton Hillis. The Ravens run defense is ranked 4th in the league, allowing just 94.4 yards a game. This is much improved since the beginning of the season— when the run defense had their struggles.