Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
What will be the deciding factors in the outcome of today's Ravens game?
1.) Pass Rush
The Ravens must find a way to knock quarterback Phillip Rivers around early and often. With starting left tackle Jared Gaither out of the game they will have plenty of options to move their pass rushers around to exploit the biggest mismatches.
2.) Down-field coverage
The Chargers have big, physical receivers that have givens the Ravens corners fits for years. If the pass rush is not able to get there it will be up to safeties Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard to help with the deep passing game that is sure to come with Danario Alexander, Malcom Floyd and Robert Meachem.
Our smaller corners will be no match for these behemoths when the ball is thrown up for grabs. They will have top work on stripping the ball after the initial catch and getting themselves in the right positions to make plays on the ball when it is in the air.
3.) Joe Flacco must move quicker
For some reason quarterback Joe Flacco seems to move and think in slow motion on the road. It is almost like he is constantly second guessing himself on every play. Joe needs to find the open man quicker in his progressions and deliver the ball before the open window closes.
The receivers can get open but Joe usually tries to get them the ball either too early or too late on the road. He has got to get his timing down if the Ravens want even a chance at winning the game.
4.) Run the football
As we discussed yesterday, the passing game stumbles on the road but the running game seems to travel a bit better. this must be the Ray Rice and Vonta Leach show. Control the clock. Keep Rivers sidelined and use what you know will work.
however, do not simply run up the gut every play. Mix and match with swing passes screens and run to both sides, off tackle and up the gut. Keep them guessing. Never run the same play too many times out of the same formation.
5.) Try and get an early lead
If the Ravens can put seven up early they can then use the ground game to frustrate the Chargers offense and keep them cool and stressed on the sidelines. hopefully this will lead to a quarterback trying to do too much and turn-overs.
This game scares me but the Ravens can win if they follow the right game plan. The question is, Will they?