Thinking Past Week One

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 11: Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens is congratulated by head coach John Harbaught after Flacco threw a touchdown pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers during second half of the season opener at M&T Bank Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

It has now been over 48 hours since the Armageddon that was week 1 for the Baltimore Ravens. Fans have had ample time to soak in the complete lambasting the Ravens put on the Pittsburgh Steelers and come to terms with what that means for our team. Every Ravens fan and their mother knows how big this win was for our franchise but few know how well this actually sets us up for the rest of the season.

Assuming this was not a fluke victory and the Ravens suffer no hangover after this highly emotional contest, by winning this game the Ravens have set themselves up nicely to win the AFC North.We would finally get to host a home playoff game. Looking down the road for speed bumps on our way to Indianapolis, the Ravens look to be the favorite in most of their match ups and the fact that Peyton Manning will miss most of the season can only help our chances. Even if Manning makes it back in time for the week 14 match up, the Ravens have built a team capable of taking down giants.

Many fans were hurt and confused when the Ravens released so many highly productive key veterans this off season. I was one of them. However, after seeing the additions to replace them I felt a bit better, but still, starting this many new players at key offensive positions... week one... against the Steelers??? I must admit I had my doubts about this game but in seeing the finished product it is clear that I should have never doubted GM Ozzie Newsome. This team was built to beat Pittsburgh. It was built to out-muscle a bully and in doing that they have built a team capable of beating any team in the NFL.

The front office of the Ravens must have taken a good long look inward this off season after the embarrassing playoff loss last year. They seemed to know exactly what positions needed to be changed in order to reverse their fortune. Our new tight end duo will create match-up nightmares for defensive coordinators week by week.They are too big for corners and too fast for linebackers. This will force safeties up in the box when they are lined up inside and to either side of the field if they are out wide. This will mean more one-on-one match-ups for our wideouts. So many fans were annoyed when we drafted two tight ends last year... sorry Oz. Speaking of wide outs, Lee Evans may not have had a catch on Sunday but believe me his presence was felt. When has Anquan Boldin ever been that open against Pittsburgh?

Our new offensive line, although a bit top heavy, passed its first test with flying colors. Nowadays in the NFL teams are not happy with just one pass rusher, you need two or three to get the job done. Well the Ravens fixed that problem by bringing in Bryant McKinnie. I've never seen Joe Flacco look more comfortable in the pocket. With McKinnie taking over at left tackle and Michael Oher at right tackle, the Ravens have a dominant offensive line. Our O-line stood up against waves of Pittsburgh rushers and any one that slipped through in pass protection was quickly stonewalled by one of our backs. After seeing this line stand up against the likes of James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, they should be up to the task against any other of the top pass rushing duos in the league.

Let me be the 10,000th to say "I love Vante Leach". The man is a monster and best of all the Steelers know it. He may not be used to being a part of the passing game yet but man can that guy lay a hit! Leach perfectly complements what the Ravens are doing on offense.  He adds an "edge", an enforcer role that every good team should have.

In beating the Steelers in week one the Ravens now find themselves in the drivers seat in the AFC North. Make no mistake Pittsburgh will be back. They will be hungry for revenge but with the offense we have built to go along with our high powered defense there might not be much they can do about it. In the end it all comes down to execution. You can have all the super stars in the world but with out continuity and timely execution you will never win a game. The Ravens have seemed to find theirs at least for week one. Only time will tell if they are who we think they are or if execution problems will once again derail this team. With the squad they have put together the sky is the limit. This is a very talented, physical group and if this play continues they will be very hard to beat.

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