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Keys to the Game: Baltimore @ Philadelphia

McCoy vs. Lewis. I know who I’d pick.

Week 2: Baltimore Ravens at Philadelphia Eagles

Sunday September 16, 2012 1:00 PM

Line: Ravens +3 O/U 46.5

Well that was fun wasn’t it? Prime time stage, national audience, bright lights, and a beat down of a talented divisional rival, that Constant Reader is the definition of a good start. With the Bengals in the rear view mirror the Ravens must focus their attention on the looming Philadelphia Eagles. Will the road act be as dominant or will Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy be too much to contain. With that in mind, let’s take a look at this week’s keys to the game.

BGR Keys to the Game

1st and 10: Run the Ball

Last season the Eagles adjusted their defensive game plan into what is commonly referred to as the wide-nine scheme. You may hear pundits gushing over the wide-nine because it creates insane amounts of pressure on the quarterback. It works by sealing the edges immediately and delivering an overwhelming pass rush. The wide-nine allows players like Jason Babin to put up just silly video game-esq sack numbers.

There is a down side, however. It stretches your defense ultra thin across the middle and exposes the linebackers to the rush. Therein lies the point. The Ravens are going to struggle against the pass rush of the Eagles, prepare for that now, but they can negate the defense and clobber them with a healthy serving of Rice. Ray Rice.  Ray has the ability and the means to shred a spread out defense, and I fully expect he will on Sunday.

2nd and Long: Run Stop

Obviously the Ravens’ Defense has some work to do. Up until the Ravens’ Offense blew the doors off the Bengals, the Defense was struggling to contain the running game behind BenJarvus Green-Ellis. If Baltimore hopes to keep Philadelphia on the mattress and not dominate this game, they are going to have to find the missing swagger in their run defense.

Philly has two primary running threats that the Ravens have to control. Obviously LeSean McCoy and of course Michael Vick. We all know how talented McCoy is, and as for the Chris Rock wanna be, well there’s no doubt he’s an athlete and can run the ball with the best of them. Either way, the Ravens need to play a zone defense and press the line to force Vick to stay in the pocket, and to force McCoy to the inside, where he’s far less dangerous.

3rd and Short: Force Turnovers

The Eagles can’t win the game if they do not have the ball. Even more so than last week, turnovers will be crucial to winning this game. Michael Vick is rusty and showed versus the Browns that he’s not entirely up to speed yet (he practically gave the game to Cleveland). The Ravens must make him pay by forcing a turnover every single time that Vick gambles or makes a bad decision. Take the ball. Win the game. Simple enough.

4th Down: No Huddle

If there is one thing that the Eagles rely upon more than anything else, it’s defensive substitutions. They have a scheme in place that is incredibly specialized, and is largely predicated upon rotating in and out the correct personnel for the correct situation. Think about what the no huddle offense does for a second. It forces defensive personnel to remain on the field and it prohibits specialization.

Even more to the point, the Eagles almost never see the no huddle. There’s not a team they face (with any regularity) that runs it. The Ravens are in prime position to make them suffer by it.

The Ravens need to keep up with the no huddle and keep the Eagles base defense on the field. If they can do this (mostly be limiting three and outs, not throwing too many incompletions, and running the ball well) then Baltimore will win in a rout.

Extra Point: Offensive Line Production

Quite possible the key to winning and losing for the Ravens is how they handle their offensive line. Although they played like wily veterans against the Bengals, the Eagles present a whole other level of talent at the Defensive End position. Michael Oher is solid if not great and Kelechi Osemele himself admits he’s a far better guard than tackle. Not to Mention that Ramon Harewood is made of porcelain and Matt Birk is finally showing massive signs of age. This means the Ravens are going to have to chip in from the TE position and the FB position to help shore up any pressure thrown in their way. The Offensive line is the Alamo and the Ravens have got to make sure they do everything possible to protect it and keep it upright.

BGR Staff Predictions

Jonathon Scruggs (1-0)

If the Ravens can contain Michael Vick and limit the Eagles offensive production, this game will be a washout. If they can’t, well then I predict it’s going to be a shootout. In the end I think Vick makes two or three crucial mistakes and the Ravens capitalize big time.

Ravens 33 — Iggles 20

Gene Winner (1-0)

The Ravens are coming off a strong win and the Eagles are coming off an ugly win. You have to think the Eagles will play better at home and the Ravens don’t want a second week let down on the road. This will be a close one!

Ravens 27 – Eagles 20

Ben Zinman (1-0)

The road can often present challenges. Michael Vick will play better. The Ravens run defense will continue to get exposed. But Joe will find challenges to overcome as the Ravens win a close one

Ravens 24 – Eagles 21

Matt Jergensen (1-0)

The Ravens meet their first big test of the season on the road in traveling to Philadelphia. Baltimore was 4-5 last season (including playoffs) when away from the confines of the Big Purple Crabcake so as we know winning on the road is tough in the NFL. But with both Eagles wideouts struggling with injuries that puts more of the burden on Vick and McCoy to make plays on the offensive side of the ball. I think the No-Huddle keeps the blitzing Eagles at bay and gives Baltimore its second win in a row.

Ravens 24 – Eagles 19

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