Baltimore Ravens Face Tough Test Against Explosive Falcons


It’s 2014, and the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons are good. Doesn’t sound pleasant, does it? I don’t think so either. To make matters worse, I strongly professed to my girlfriend before the season started that “I would rather lose at fantasy football than draft a Dallas Cowboy.” How could I have known?

Admit it, you never thought the Cowboys or Falcons would ever be good again. My ignorance is only exceeded by my charm. This Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens host a stacked Atlanta Falcons team led by red-hot quarterback, Matt Ryan, and we will see just how good this offense is.

The most interesting aspect of this game is our defensive match ups. Don’t be fooled by their 2-4 record, Matt Ryan is now the second-ranked quarterback in the NFL with 1,850 yards thus far this season and throwing 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

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I believe this is an even tougher challenge for the Ravens than Indianapolis due to Atlanta having a stronger receiving corps. Roddy White and Julio Jones are one of the best tandems in the league. Jones alone ranks number three in the league with 44 receptions for 620 yards averaging 14.1 yards a catch. Combined with the improved play of Harry Douglas and the newest addition of their X-factor, Devin Hester, it’s needless to say Baltimore’s secondary will have their hands full.

But wait, there’s more.

The Falcons actually have… gulp… a running game as well. Steven Jackson has improved his play from last season. Jacquizz Rodgers (Michael Turner’s replacement) remains consistent in his production. But from out of nowhere, Antone Smith has emerged as the Falcons number-one back. One of the fastest runners in the league, his ability catching passes out of the backfield makes him perhaps the biggest threat to Baltimore’s defense.

It’s difficult to pick a key player on defense because several players need to rise up to this challenge. Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith will face the duo of Jones and White, and it will be an “eat your Wheaties” type of day. Shutting down the big pass will certainly keep Atlanta on the ropes.

But the biggest task in the secondary will be left to free safety Matt Elam, who will need to have his eyes on the versatile Devin Hester the entire time. Where Hester lines up and the formations used with him will give the Ravens early insight to the Falcons plan of attack.

C.J. Mosley WILL stop Steven Jackson. In fact, inspired by Baltimore Wire editor Shawn Brubaker, I make the bold prediction Mosley will single-handedly be the wall Atlanta’s rushing attack runs into. With the run game gone, Matt Ryan will be forced to throw more and try to stretch the field, making their offense more predictable.

And I believe that will be the deciding factor in this contest: putting constant pressure on Ryan. I’ve praised Baltimore’s much improved pass rush all this week, and this is the time to prove me right. Defensive end Elvis Dumervil and linebacker Terrell Suggs have to get to Matt Ryan.

Added pressure leaves Matt Ryan with little time to get rid of the ball, and he will make mistakes in doing so.

Get ready for a nail biter, Baltimore, because this one isn’t going to be a walk in the park. With a complete effort by the defense, I have Baltimore winning this game 24-20.