BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 10: Safety Ed Reed #20 of the Baltimore Ravens returns a interception for a touchdown in the third quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on September 10, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
1.) Joe Flacco Vs. Eagles Secondary:
Last season the Philadelphia Eagles won the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes out of nowhere. They also brought in highly touted corner back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from Arizona, effectively cleaning house in their secondary. As the NFL has become more of an offensive minded, particularly pass-happy league, one could understand why they would want to bring in one of the best corners in the league and a budding young star at the position.
Unfortunately for the Eagles their plan was not as effective as they hoped. Asomugha, who is utilized best in a bump and run, man-to-man defense was forced to play in the Eagles more zone happy schemes and you realy didn't hear much about him or Rogers-Cromartie in the 2011 season.
However that does not change the fact that they are still two of the best corners in the game and it may be hard for Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco to unleash the same "Air Flacco" we saw week one against Cincinnati especially when this will be the Eagles home opener and they and their fans are sure to be more than pumped up.
2.) Ravens Offensive line Vs. Eagles pass rush:
The Ravens surprised everyone with their starting offensive line week one against the Bengals. No Bryant McKinnie, no Bobbie Williams and reserve tackle Ramon Harewood starting at left guard. Head coach John Harbaugh said he would have his best five linemen on the field and I guess in his mind they were it.
It seems simple enough to understand that with the Ravens new high paced, up tempo, no huddle offense they would need young, athletic, high speed tackles and guards to run it correctly. Well, it worked as the Ravens went on to score 44 points and although Flacco did get knocked around a bit more than I would have liked, I guess you can't argue with the results.
However the young linemen will have a whole new challenge this week with Jason Babin, Trent Cole, Cullen Jenkins and the Eagles pass rush this week. Last week the Ravens had the element of surprise against the Bengals. they ran a lot of misdirection and play action which had the Bengals defense all mixed up. Now the Eagles have a full game of tape to watch on the new look Ravens offense and are surely preparing counter-precautions.
It will be interesting to see if Baltimore chooses to go with the same line-up against Philadelphia or if they choose to bring in some veteran help against these veteran pass rushers. Or, how short of a leash they give the current line up if Joe starts getting smacked around a bit too much. Between the Eagles secondary and pass rush most fantasy experts would probably tell you to sit Joe Flacco this week but the Ravens have a lot of weapons on offense including Ray Rice and a duo of young tight ends that are match up nightmares. It will be hard for any team to find a way to shut them all down.
Last week Vick threw four interceptions against the lowly Cleveland Browns, almost losing the game for his team. This week he will be up against the best ball-hawking safety ever to play the game. You'd have to think that this is a bad match up for Vick. Especially considering he has had problems with picks his entire career.
Although I am sure head coach Andy Reid is already game planning around Reed, if the Ravens can get an early lead the Eagles may be forced to pas the ball for more than just short yardage and that is where Reed comes in. Much of this weekends game may be dependent upon the Ravens finding a way to gain an early lead. Heck maybe the Eagles have been planning for this Ravens game for most of the off season, overlooking the Browns all together, and that's why they had such a poor showing against them... Well maybe not but I'm sure they will be much more prepared this week then they were last, especially for their home opener.
I give the edge to Reed in this one though.