There’s just something about week one that always makes me happy. Maybe it’s the excitement I have to see professional football return or my exuberant optimism for the season. Whatever it is, I’m sure that you feel it too. The Baltimore Ravens are set to take on the Miami Dolphins this week. Although Miami is expected to be the league’s bottom feeder, the Ravens cannot take them lightly. It would be an absolute tragedy should the Ravens fall to the Dolphins. To start the year off right with a win in Miami, the Ravens will need to win three key battles, and see great performances from three key players.
So, without further ado, here are the keys to the game.
Kenyan Drake vs Ravens Front Seven
It’s a no-brainer. The Dolphins are going to try to run against Baltimore’s front seven. And why wouldn’t they? Kenyan Drake is a competent runner, and the Dolphins do not have many other offensive weapons. We know that Ryan Fitzpatrick can do some damage, but who is he going to throw to? Miami just traded their best receiver, Kenny Stills, along with left tackle, Laremy Tunsil as part of the clearing-house agenda. Could the Dolphins win by feeding DeVante Parker all game? No, and that’s why they will need to establish the run game. It’s a risky proposition to try this against the Ravens, but Miami might run into some luck. The loss of C.J. Mosley is a major one, and the Ravens will definitely hurt because of it. The combination of Patrick Onwuasor and whoever starts next to him won’t be able to fully replace Mosley. If Miami’s offensive line can string some dominant plays together, they could allow Drake to establish himself as the foundation of Miami’s offense on Sunday.
Xavien Howard vs Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson needs to show improvement as a passer from last year. Period. No one can reasonably argue that Jackson was up to NFL standards last year when he was slinging the ball. Sure, Jackson is the most electrifying quarterback in the league when he dances around the gridiron like a gazelle, but his throwing mechanics were objectively poor last year. Jackson will be going up against a bellow average secondary on Sunday, which leaves a larger margin for error than normal. However, there is one player in that Miami Dolphins secondary that will close the margin of error to a virtual zero. That player is Xavien Howard, and Lamar Jackson needs to be careful when throwing his way. If Jackson allows the young and extremely talented cornerback to make a play on the ball, it will undoubtedly improve Miami’s standing, and possibly place some doubt into Lamar Jackson’s head. It might be better for Jackson to just commit to throwing away from him all game.
Ryan Fitzpatrick vs the Ravens Psyche
It’s no secret that Ryan Fitzpatrick, aka “Fitzmagic”, can pull off tremendous upsets. He wins when he shouldn’t and loses when he shouldn’t. His history should scare the Ravens, but Baltimore must stay confident heading into this potentially dangerous matchup. Ryan Fitzpatrick feeds on doubt, fear, and mistakes, and the Ravens will regret panicking early if they lose their composure. Should the Ravens go down by a touchdown or two early, which could happen, Baltimore will need to stay confident, and the team must remain steadfast in their attack. As long as the Ravens don’t let Fitzpatrick dictate the game, Baltimore should be able to come out on top.
The Ravens quarterback must show improvement from last year, and give his team a solid performance in week one to secure a victory.
What we’re looking for: 20/26, 200 yards, 1 passing TD, 10 runs, 70 yards, 1 rushing TD.
Baltimore’s newest workhorse needs to officially assume his role as the number one running back this week.
What we’re looking for: 16 carries, 80 yards, 1 touchdown.
The newest addition to Baltimore’s proud history at safety should be able to lead the stacked secondary in week one. If he does, it will signal great things to come this season.
What we’re looking for: Good coverage, 1 INT.
The Baltimore Ravens will encounter some trouble early, as the Ryan Fitzpatrick offense will score and take the lead on the first drive. However, Baltimore’s defense will hunker down after the first drive, and Baltimore’s ground game will push the Ravens into the win column.
FINAL SCORE: Ravens 28, Dolphins 10