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Match-Up: New England @ Baltimore

Key for the offense in this match-up: Getting Ray Rice his touches. In 2 games Ray Rice has 26 rushing attempts, (compared to) QB Joe Flacco who has 71 passing attempts.

Week 3 Match-up: New England (1-1) at Baltimore (1-1)

Sun, 09/23 at 8:20 PM EDT

Home: M&T Bank Stadium

The Ravens are coming off a frustrating loss in Philadelphia. Inexplicably, the game plan only allowed Ray Rice 16 touches and QB Joe Flacco had 42 passing attempts. New England lost to the Arizona Cardinals, a team that shouldn’t have gone into Foxboro and win. There’s much on the line in this match-up, one of these teams will leave 1-2 on the season.


Ravens Coverage vs. Patriot’s Tight Ends:

There’s no doubt QB Tom Brady has one of the best tightend tandems in the NFL.  Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have been prolific and a major focus for New England’s offense. The Ravens have to get creative and cover both players. A linebacker covering either is a recipe for disaster. You have to think the Ravens will mix some ‘nickel’ personnel in this match-up, especially on third downs.  Last week in Philadelphia the Ravens secondary gave up 8 receptions and 157 yards to tight end Bret Celek.  Injury Update: Aaron Hernandez will most likely miss this game (and the next few weeks) with an ankle injury.

Ravens Pressure vs. New England’s O-line: 

The Cardinals sacked Tom Brady 4 times last week.  If Brady is given time he will carve up any secondary, pressure must be consistent. Last week the Ravens went to zone quite a bit and they paid for it.  For what it’s worth the Ravens front seven has been attacking and disrupting the backfield (6 sacks, 2 forced fumbles). Player match-ups to Watch: OLB Upshaw vs. LT Nate Solder and  DT Haloti Ngata vs. center Ryan Wendell.  Rookie Courtney Upshaw should see more snaps, he is starting to make a positive impact– flushing QB’s out of the pocket and plays the run well.  Ngata (2 sacks, 1 pass deflection) has been a disruptive force and continues to consistently get a push in the opponent’s backfield.

Ravens O-line vs. DT Vince Wilfork:  

The run game and pass protection will be predicated on slowing down DT Vince Wilfork. Center Matt Birk should receive some help in containment.  Last Sunday the Ravens struggled in pass protection and Flacco found himself under duress way too much. However, the offensive line  were mostly solid when the team ran the ball. –Rice had 99 yards on only 16 carries.

Ray Rice vs. New England’s Front 7: 

In two games Rice only has 26 touches compared to QB Flacco’s 71 pass attempts, that has to change for the Ravens to be a balanced offense, and to be successful. After last week’s play-calling debacle, fans should assume Rice will be more active.  Last year New England struggled on the defensive side of the ball. This year however, they drafted some excellent prospects in LB Donta’ Hightower and DT Chandler Jones. Jones (1 sack, 1 forced fumble) has had a strong presence in the defensive front.  Last week New England held Beanie Wells to 44 yards on the ground and in week one the Patriots held Tennessee’s RB Chris Johnson to 11 carries for 0.4 yards (not 40 yards). In that opener Tennessee had a 1.3 rushing average. Though the Titans fell behind and were forced to pass, the defensive effort from the Patriots can’t be discounted.

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