After Baltimore’s historic win over the Miami Dolphins, the Ravens are now the hot topic throughout the league. The talks are filled mainly with questions. Will the Ravens offense continue to dominate? Will Baltimore’s defense again be the gold standard of the league? Is Lamar Jackson really the quarterback we saw last Sunday? These questions will persist for much of the season, but the Ravens will begin to provide answers on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
Baltimore enters this game as 13 point Las Vegas favorites. Here are the key battles and players that will decide the game:
Ravens Pass Rush vs Cardinals Offensive Line
Against the Miami Dolphins, the Baltimore Ravens showed to have a better pass rush than originally anticipated. Baltimore dropped the opposing quarterbacks a combined three times, with Matthew Judon, Pernell McPhee, and even Patrick Onwuasor getting in on the action. It’s true that Baltimore faced one of the league’s poorest performing offensive lines in Miami, but the Ravens may be facing an even worse unit this week. Arizona’s line allowed Kyler Murray to be sacked five times by the Detriot pass rush. Baltimore must take advantage of Arizona’s poor offensive line play and make Kyler Murray take his mind off of finding targets, as he constantly worries about pressure in the pocket.
Cardinals Wide Receivers vs Ravens Secondary
The Ravens secondary has taken some hits in recent weeks. In the offseason, Tavon Young was placed on the season-ending injured reserve after a scary neck injury. Last week, veteran cornerback, Jimmy Smith, sprained his MCL and will miss several weeks because of the injury. The Cardinals wide receivers, Larry Fitzgerald, KeeSean Johnson, and Christian Kirk will all try to take advantage of a banged-up secondary. Even though the Ravens are banged up, the secondary is very deep, and Baltimore is confident that Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr, and Anthony Averett will hold the fort this Sunday.
Terrell Suggs vs His Former Team
It’s going to be an emotional day at M&T Bank Stadium. One of the best players to ever put on the purple and black will be playing in the stadium in a different colored jersey. Terrell Suggs signed with the Arizona Cardinals this past offseason in what was a difficult decision for all involved. Suggs spent 16 years in Baltimore, and was the face of the franchise after Ray Lewis retired. But like all great things, his career in Baltimore eventually had to come to an end. He elected not to re-sign with the Ravens, in favor of signing with his home-state Cardinals. His performance in Sunday’s game could dictate the momentum for both teams. If Suggs is shut down early, the Cardinals defense will be discouraged, but if he starts to throw his weight around in the trenches, the Ravens could start to falter.
No, I’m not asking Lamar Jackson to post a perfect passer rating and throw for five touchdowns again. Would it be nice? Yes, I don’t think I would mind another perfect performance by the “running back,” but I’m going to be realistic. The Ravens offense is best when Lamar Jackson is playing at a high level, and as long as he passes well, the Ravens should be able to move the ball efficiently.
What we’re looking for: 65% completion, 200 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns.
The Arizona Cardinals offensive line was, well, terrible, in the team’s week one outing against the Detriot Lions. The line allowed the team’s rookie quarterback to be sacked a total of five times. The porous nature of the supposedly stout line will be a major issue for the Cardinals against the Ravens. Baltimore’s best pass rusher, Matthew Judon, will have an opportunity to wreak havoc on the line and force the young quarterback to panic.
What we’re looking for: 2 sacks, 1 tackle for loss.
Marlon Humphrey is going to be extremely important in Baltimore’s defensive plan for Arizona. Cardinal’s wide receiver, Larry Fitzgerald, is the lifeblood of a passing offense that features a young and unproven rookie quarterback at the helm. There is no question that defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale will implement a scheme of coverages and blitzes designed to confuse Murray. In the likely event that Murray gets confused, he will look to rely on the future Hall of Fame wide receiver as a safety blanket. Marlon Humphrey will need to shut the connection down.
What we’re looking for: Three pass deflections, tight coverage on Larry Fitzgerald.
The Baltimore Ravens will cruise by the Cardinals after a contested first quarter, where each team will post a touchdown.
FINAL SCORE: Ravens 31, Cardinals 13