It has been a great week to be a Ravens fan. Last Monday night, the boys in purple took care of business with a commanding 44-13 win over the visiting Bengals. All of the hype surrounding the revamped Ravens no-huddle offense came to fruition, as Joe Flacco led the way with 299 passing yards and two touchdowns. The Ravens set the tone for the game on the very first play from scrimmage, when Flacco found Torrey Smith downfield for a 52-yard gain. Later on the drive, rookie K Justin Tucker connected for a 46-yard field goal to put the Ravens on the board. And on the very next Ravens drive, Ray Rice burst up the middle for a 7-yard touchdown. After Mike Nugent put the Bengals on the board, Flacco stepped back a threw a beautiful 34-yard pass that landed perfectly in Anquan Boldin's hands for a touchdown. However, BenJarvus Green-Ellis's 6-yard TD run on fourth down cut the Ravens lead to 17-10 at halftime. When another Nugent field goal cut the lead to 4, Joe Flacco and the Ravens had had enough of the nail-biting. Flacco tore up the Bengals defense, eventually finding Dennis Pitta on a perfectly-placed pass to the end zone for a touchdown. In the final moments of the third quarter, with the Bengals trailing 27-13, Andy Dalton's pass was tipped into the hands of Ed Reed, and returned 34 yards to the house for the Ravens score. With that pick-six, the 7th of his career, Reed moved into first place in career interception yards with 1,497. The Ravens defense continued their domination in the fourth quarter, and Rice's second TD run of the game, followed by another Tucker field goal, put the icing on the cake for a convincing Week 1 win.
Player of the Game: Ravens QB Joe Flacco-21/29 for 299 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns
Key Takeaway from the Game: For the first time in our franchise's history, the Ravens offense is setting the tone for the defense. When the offense was in sync, the defense followed suit. Contrary to what we are used to seeing, the Ravens offense stayed calm when the defense was panicked. With a defense such as the Ravens', fans should be ecstatic that an explosive offense finally has their back.
Next Sunday, the Ravens will cross into enemy territory, when they take on the 1-0 Philadelphia Eagles in the City of Brotherly Love. Lincoln Financial Field in Philly has a reputation for being one of the nastiest and toughest atmospheres to play in, so the Ravens will have their work cut out for them. Last week, the Eagles limped out of Cleveland with a 17-16 win over the Browns. Eagles QB Michael Vick threw 4 interceptions against a below-average Browns defense. The Ravens secondary should have some fun in store for Vick, who is known for his legs much more than for his arm. The Eagles ground threat doesn't stop with Vick, however. RB LeSean McCoy has long been compared to Ray Rice, and for good reason. McCoy rushed for 1,309 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. He and Rice both had career years last year, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them both get a lot of carries on Sunday. McCoy will surely test a Ravens run defense that struggled at times last week. However, the Eagles are known for their below-average offensive line, which has not been able to open up significant enough holes for Vick and McCoy. If the Ravens can limit McCoy, the secondary could have a field day with Vick's struggling arm. On defense, the Eagles possess one of the better defensive lines in the game. DEs Jason Babin, Trent Cole, and Cullen Jenkins will put the pressure on Flacco early. He will need to stay poised in the pocket in order to avoid mistakes in the Eagles secondary. CBs Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will make Flacco's job even tougher on Sunday. After a disappointing year in 2011, the Eagles defense still has the opportunity to be one of the best in the league, and following an offensive explosion by the Ravens last week, they will get their first big test of the year Sunday.
Prediction: This will be a game of answers to some of the biggest question marks for both of these teams. Can the Ravens run defense stop one of the best backs in the league? Does the Eagles defense have what it takes to stop a high-powered offense? Can Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense continue their success? All will be answered come Sunday afternoon. In a highly-contested "Battle of I-95," I have the Ravens taking down the Eagles, 27-17.
Key Matchups for Ravens at Eagles
Ravens CB Lardarius Webb vs. Eagles WR DeSean Jackson Edge: Webb
Analysis: Jackson is a perennial threat to break open a big play, but his lack of self-control gives the talented Webb a small edge.
Ravens LB Ray Lewis vs. Eagles RB LeSean McCoy Edge: Push
Analysis: Lewis looked as good as ever Monday night, but he did miss a few tackles. McCoy's speed and ability to break tackles will be prove to give Lewis one of his biggest tests of the year.
Ravens WR Torrey Smith vs. Eagles CB Nnamdi Asomugha Edge: Asomugha
Analysis: Despite Smith's speed, Asomugha has proved himself as one of the best cover corners in the game today, and will limit Smith's big play ability.
Ravens RB Ray Rice vs. Eagles LB DeMeco Ryans Edge: Rice
Analysis: Ryans, a former Texans LB, is used to facing top-notch backs. However, Rice's speed and versatility will allow him to get past a slower and less athletic DeMeco Ryans.
T Jah Reid-Leg-OUT
C Matt Birk-Thigh-QST
S Ed Reed-Thigh-QST
WR Riley Cooper-Collarbone-OUT
WR DeSean Jackson-Hamstring-QST
WR Jeremy Maclin-Hip-QST
CB Curtis Marsh-Hamstring-QST
Well, that's it for this week's version of my Ravens Report, see you next week and Go Ravens!