It’s a Football Friday… My favorite day of the work week. After a couple of weeks off, I’m back to breaking down this weeks AFC North match-up of the week.
This week we have the Carolina Panthers at the Baltimore Ravens!
This game will be a defensive struggle. Much like what Baltimore has faced the last two weeks with games vs. the Chargers and Broncos, which they split going 1-1. To me, the Ravens look like the Bears of last year. Remember when the Bears won 7 or 8 games in a row in the middle of the season to make it into the playoffs? We’ll the Ravens look very similar with absolutely no offensive weapons on the outside. Any big play potential they have is going to be up the middle with Todd Heap or a possible run by Jamal Lewis. McNair no longer has the ability to throw the ball downfield, but wait a minute… did he ever? He’s always been a dink and dunk QB and his skills really lie in game management. He’s not going to win any games for you single handedly. With this offensive model and lack of deep threats, the defense can cheat and play the short to intermediate routes, hence three McNair interceptions vs. the Broncos last week. With consistent pressure on McNair it will be hard for the Ravens to put points on the board.
The Ravens strength is on Defense and they are a threat to force turnovers and create defensive touchdowns. They also gamble, and gamble too much so they are susceptible to get beat by big play. This is very dangerous when facing the Carolina Panthers and their Uber-star WR Steve Smith. Ever since he’s been back in the lineup the Panthers have been winning. The Ravens defense MUST stop the running game of the Panther in order to have a chance on Sunday.
For the Panthers the recipe is simple. GET STEVE SMITH THE DAMN BALL! If Steve Smith gets 8-10 touches consider it a Panthers win. That guy in unbelievable! Hands down THE best WR in the game today. Jake Delhomme is a very average QB, but with 89 on the field he instantly becomes a much better because of Steve Smith’s versatility and big play ability. The Panthers will be dedicated to running the ball and expect DeShaun Foster to have just shy of 100 yards and a TD. Not having DeAngelo Williams for Week 6 is a big loss. He gives that change of pace that almost every backfield needs today in the NFL. If Foster doesn’t get on track in the first half it will make it much more difficult for the Panthers to get the ball to Steve Smith.
The Panthers Defense is one of the top playmaking defenses in the NFC. What makes their D so special is that they don’t have to blitz in order to get pressure on the QB. Julius Peppers is a one man wrecking crew with the athletic ability to create problems against the best of Offensive Linemen. The Panthers secondary is ballhawking and expect for them to be very aggressive on the Ravens WR’s being physical on the line of scrimmage. Thomas Davis is another playmaker and expect him to be coving Todd Heap all over the field. The one place where Baltimore can hurt the Panthers is by running right at them with J. Lewis. The Baltimore Offensive line must come through for this to get going.
The key to the game will be turnovers. If Carolina wins the turnover battle they will win. If Baltimore wins the turnover battle they have a chance. Prediction…
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