The Baltimore Ravens (4-6) had the life renewed in the running game against the Chicago Bears, but it will be hard to continue against the New York Jets (5-5). The Jets have a stiff run defense this year, the opposite of what the Bears had.
The Jets’ pass defense is ranked 29th in the NFL, so Joe Flacco needs to try to have a break out game. So, here is what I am going to be looking at when watching the game Sunday at 1pm.
There has been much talk about the lacking run game, and this is true. However, Flacco has not been at the top of his game to try to take the pressure off, especially when the Ravens have the lead.
The Ravens have been trailing much of this season, Flacco having thrown for 1500+ yards when trailing and less than 1000 yards when leading.
Whether or not the run game is present, Flacco needs to play well against the Jets. Their pass defense is not as strong as their run defense, so Flacco needs to take advantage of this early in the game.
When Flacco gets the passing game going, the running game should follow. If the running game can get going, the passing game should follow also.
Flacco has not thrown the ball deep very well this season, often under throwing the ball quite often. If the running game can come into play early, Flacco may be able to test the Jets’ secondary.
Flacco only has 1 passing touchdown when leading by 9+ points and only 93 yards on 16 completions. The Ravens need to take the lead early and give Flacco more time with a lead.
Just like the run game came back against the weak run defense of the Bears, let’s hope Flacco can come alive against the weak pass defense of the Jets.
When playing at home, Flacco has only thrown 2 interceptions. Flacco makes better decisions at home, so let’s hope this continues and he can make some smart decisions when passing.
The Offensive Line
The Offensive line has been a problem that needs to improve. It has allowed 56 hits on Flacco along with 33 sacks. They must protect Flacco if he’s going to improve his pass play.
The Offensive line has allowed more negative running plays than positive run plays. Ray Rice has not been himself this season, but watching the Bears game, the Offensive line had a big part in Rice’s success.
They need to create holes in the defensive line for Rice to get some extra yardage he doesn’t have to fight for. The less Rice has to work, the more yards he is going to get.
Player I am Watching
There is one player we should look for on the field: Jimmy Smith.
He has 39 total tackles this season in 10 games compared to 34 total tackles in 2012 in 11 games. Jimmy Smith played spectacular in the loss to the Bears in the endzone against Brandon Marshall.
Look for Smith to have a big game. He’s a young, energetic player at home in a must-win game. The Ravens need him to come out to play his best. With Lardarius Webb on the other side of Smith, Smith will get plenty of passes thrown at him.
The deciding factor of the game will be the pass and run game. The Ravens are playing at home, so they need to get a lead early, and establish the run game early to be able to seal the game late.
The Jets are inconsistent, and the Ravens are playing at home. This game needs to be a statement game, yes at 4-6, but the Ravens need to show the NFL they are not out of the playoff race.
Hopefully, the weather is nice and there are no delays of any kind during the game.
And let’s not forget about Ed Reed‘s second return home. Reed didn’t make much of an impact when he played for the Houston Texans against the Ravens. I have a feeling he may play an important role in this game, so make sure you keep track of #22, not #20 on the field.