Guest contribution to BSR by Andrew Holly. 

Strike first, strike hard, no mercy.”karate-kid2

If you can’t place the above quote, it’s the slogan of the Cobra Kai dojo from the original Karate Kid. This should also be the motto for the Ravens defense in their opening match-up against Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Denver.

John Harbaugh and Dean Pees need to unleash the Ravens’ new front seven. We all got a little taste of what’s to come at various points in the preseason. While that was nice to see, it’s time to really ramp it up.

It’s show time.

Ray Lewis and Ed Reed may no longer be on the field, but this defense is more than capable of carrying on the legacy of smash mouth, quarterback-terrorizing football that fans in Baltimore have grown to expect over the last decade plus. A dominating defensive effort is what will be required if the Ravens are going to come out of Denver victorious.

Here’s a quick reminder of the offensive firepower the Denver Broncos possess:peyton

Peyton Manning, QB: Simply one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. He came back last season and proved all those who thought he was finished dead wrong. He may not have the same skills that allowed him to simply dominate games, but he’s not one to be trifled with. Manning finished the ’12 campaign with 400 completions for 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns against only 11 interceptions.

Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, & Wes Welker, WRs: This is probably the best group of wide receivers in the league and I don’t know if it’s even close. Here are the combined season stats for these three from 2012: 297 receptions, 3,852 yards, and 29 touchdowns.

I know, I know, Welker played for the Patriots last season and there is no way Manning will be able to spread the ball around enough for those kind of individual receiving numbers to repeat themselves in ’13. I really don’t care. To say the Denver offense provides match-up problems for the Ravens is to say the sky is blue and grass is green. I think we can all agree that the Broncos could have a pretty devastating offense and the Ravens have quite a test ahead of them come Thursday night.

This leads me back to Karate Kid: “Strike first, strike hard, no mercy.”

Peyton Manning cannot beat you, if he’s constantly on his back. These wide receivers cannot beat you, if they never get the chance to touch the ball. The Ravens’ pass rush is simply the best weapon they can deploy against this explosive aerial assault.

Wax on, wax off, Peyton.
Wax on, wax off, Peyton.

Terrell Suggs and, new addition, Elvis Dumervil easily provide the Ravens with the best one-two-punch pass rush combo they have had in the history of the franchise. For the Ravens to win, I expect Suggs and Dumervil to be greeting Manning in the backfield for much of the game.

Along with this new dynamic duo, Chris Canty, Haloti Ngata, Marcus Spears and Courtney Upshaw must blow up the Denver offensive line and give Manning the shortest of time spans to go through his progressions and find his targets.

Strike first, strike hard, no mercy.”

I want to see Manning on his back. I want to see all three wide receivers so upset with their lack of touches that they start grumbling at Manning on the sidelines.

Strike first, strike hard, no mercy.”

I want to see Joe Flacco on the sidelines in the fourth quarter with a big smile on his face yelling over to the defense: “Sweep the leg, Sizzle!  Sweep the leg!”

Strike first, strike hard, no mercy.”

After the game, when the awaiting press is aghast by the pounding Manning and company received by this new Ravens pass rush, I want John Harbaugh to walk up to the podium, channel John Kreese (the Cobra Kai sensei), and tell the press, “We do not train to be merciful here. Mercy is for the weak. Here, in the streets, in competition: A man confronts you, he is the enemy. An enemy deserves no mercy.”

Strike first, strike hard, no mercy.”

Follow Andrew on Twitter, @AndrewDHolly.