The Baltimore Ravens are an offense looking for answers. For periods of time they click and look like a well oiled machine. But then it all seems to unravel and they turn in a 2nd half like the one in Houston on Monday night. The blame game has gone around. Joe Flacco has taken his share of criticism and so has the play calling of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Lately, it has become apparent that the Ravens offensive line is not capable of the physical play that has been a hallmark in Baltimore. They have been a poor run blocking team, and have looked confused with their blitz pick-ups in recent weeks. Time is running out for the Ravens to get things together on offense and it is sad to say that I would have such little excitement for a 9-4 football team. Can the Ravens put it together when the host the Saints on Sunday?
Through the Air: The Ravens offense has leaned almost entirely on the arm of Joe Flacco this season. Flacco has put up strong numbers, but the offense has lacked punch and is unable to put up consistent points. The Ravens pass offense has also struggled because of the lines ability to protect Flacco. Flacco has been sacked 32 times this season and has struggled to get rid of the ball quickly when pressure is coming. Flacco has shown better ability to find open receivers, and when given time the pass offense looks sharp. Against New Orleans Flacco is likely to see a lot of cover 2 zone. It would be huge to get Todd Heap back, as the middle of the field could be open against the Saints zone. New Orleans does rank 5th in the NFL against the pass and is getting healthy at the right time of the year. The Saints are likely to present the Ravens with a stiffer test than they have faced in recent weeks. The Ravens also need to find a way to keep Anquan Boldin involved in the pass offense. Too often opposing defenses find ways to eliminate Boldin from the offense. Look for the Ravens to try and get the ball in Boldin’s hands and allow him to use his run after the catch ability.
On the Ground: To put it simply the Ravens are doing very little on the ground. The offensive lines struggles have been well documented, but the Ravens running backs have also failed to find cut back lanes and are not breaking many tackles right now. The Saints defense does struggle more to defend the run than they do the pass. So will we see the Ravens make a greater commitment to running the ball. The recent changes on the Ravens offensive line indicate their need to be stronger at the point of attack. Against Houston the Ravens got very little push despite the change. The Ravens do not seem capable of running between the tackles, but this week they will need to do so. The Saints have a fast defense, but they are on the smaller side. The Ravens will need to get the ground game going to the tune of 130 yards or more. If he is healthy enough, I think we will see more of Le’Ron McClain carrying the ball.
The Raven do not match up well with the Saints, and they will need to take full advantage of home field and maybe some cold weather to win this game. If the Ravens can control tempo on offense and force the Saints into a few turnovers the Ravens will be able to put up some points. It will be a close game throughout. Lets hope the Ravens have the ball in their hands at the end of the game.