After the Ravens steamrolled through the Pittsburgh Steelers in week one, they look to prove just how good they are on the road against the Tennessee Titans in week two. Here are five things to watch for in their game on Sunday.
Ravens defense versus Chris Johnson – The Ravens shut down Rashard Mendenhall last week by manhandling the Steelers offensive line. Mendenhall was limited to just 44 yards rushing. This week, they face an even bigger challenge in Chris Johnson. Though Johnson is coming off of a disappointing 24 yard performance himself, he is always a threat even against good defenses. Johnson is a much speedier guy than Mendenhall and if he gets past the linebackers he could break one loose. The Ravens need to pack the line and shut down the holes that Tennessee’s offense creates. Haloti Ngata needs to continue break into the backfield just as he did against Pittsburgh. Ngata’s best matchup is against right guard Jake Scott, look for him to wreak havoc in Chuck Pagano’s defense again this week
Ray Rice versus Titans defense – To get the Ravens offense going again in week two, Ray Rice needs to have another big week. The Ravens running back scored twice and racked up 149 yards against the Steelers and if the Ravens are successful on Sunday it will start and end with Rice. Maurice Jones-Drew finished three yards shy of 100 and reached the end zone once last week against Tennessee, I expect Rice to have similar results. With Vonta Leach leading the way against a young Titans defense, I expect Rice to again have a nice day for fantasy owners and Ravens fans alike.
Ravens offensive line – Anyone that assumed the Ravens would fall to the Steelers in week one pointed to an offensive line that hadn’t played together as their reason for their prediction. The Ravens proved everyone wrong. This week, they will need to show that week one wasn’t a fluke. Matt Birk says he feels good and Bryant McKinnie has dropped 40 pounds to get into game shape. Both guys played well against Pittsburgh, but they need to prove it was more than just a rivalry hype up game. If the line looks as dominant in Tennessee as it didn’t against Pittsburgh, the Ravens should be in store for a dominant offensive performance.
Joe Flacco’s aerial attack – Baltimore’s QB looks to have taken a big step in his development as the team’s leader after last weeks 35-7 win against Pittsburgh. Flacco not only threw a few incredible passes, but he also read the Steelers defense and adjusted Baltimore’s offense accordingly. If Lee Evans foot doesn’t limit him, I would like to see Cam Cameron and the Ravens good deep on Tennessee. Cortland Finnegan is always a threat, but Baltimore should be able to free up either Evans or Anquan Boldin for some yardage down the sideline. Look again for even splits between the Ravens two tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta.
Avoid the post-big-win-swoon – One of the most important things this Ravens team has to do is make sure that they don’t sleep on the Titans. It’s game on the road against a superstar running back, an average defense with some threats and a quarterback thank doesn’t make game changing mistakes. If the Ravens think they will roll through Tennessee they are wrong. This would be the type of game in the middle of the season that would worry me, but I’m sure the Ravens are focused on proving that they are as good as everyone thought after week one.
Zach Wilt is the Founding Editor of BaltimoreSportsReport.com and host of the BSR Podcast. He's a loyal Orioles, Ravens and Capitals fan who is obsessed with baseball, loves traveling, In-N-Out Burger and Walt Disney World.