Against the Cleveland Browns, the Philadelphia Eagles could afford to be a little, scratch that, a lot sloppy and still manage to pull out the win.
Against the Baltimore Ravens however, a team that some believe are destined for Superbowl greatness this year, the Eagles will have to play much better if they want to get the win and beat the sportsbooks’ spread (1.30pm ET, Sunday).
Will the Ravens Replicate Their Week One Showing or Will They Have Another Week Two Disappointment?
To put it simply, in a Monday night beat down, the Ravens absolutely dominated their divisional rivals in the Cincinnati Bengals in week one. In the air, fifth year quarterback Joe Flacco was brilliant. He threw for 299 yards added two touchdowns and completed 72 percent of his passes (21-of-29). With these numbers, Flacco backed up his performance from last season’s opener when the Ravens beat the Pittsburgh Steelers and their NFL best defense by a score of 35-7.
Flacco and his air attack wasn’t the only source of offense for the Ravens however. Top five running back, Ray Rice, also played a huge role in the scoring clinic the Ravens put on for their AFC North showdown. Rice did a lot with a little as in just ten carries, managed to put up two scores. He added 25 yards receiving to his total stats as well.
Rookie kicker Justin Tucker added nine points as he successfully booted three field goals of 46, 40 and 39 yards. The Ravens special teams was also a part of their scoring bonanza as they helped the team to good field positioning before placing the ball in Flacco’s hands and allowing him to do the rest.
But it wasn’t just Flacco throwing bombs, Rice pounding the ball into the end zone or Tucker showing off his leg. The Ravens defense, considered stingy and one of the top defenses in the NFL also performed as advertised as pro-bowl linebacker Ray Lewis forced a fumble and pro-bowl safety Ed Reed added an interception to his career total that now sits at 58 in 11 seasons.
It was a complete team effort for the Ravens that backed up the thoughts that this is a Superbowl team. The only question however, is can they continue the momentum with a week two win, on the road and against the Eagles?
If the past year’s results mean anything, then the answer is no.
In 2011, the Ravens opened up the season with a dominant 35-7 win over the Steelers. In this game, Flacco played brilliantly. He threw for 224 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. It was the Ravens defense also that outperformed the Steelers as they picked off Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger three times.
BetOnline Betting Lines (accepts all USA clients):
+105 Ravens +1pt; -125 Eagles -1pts
Bovada (all US except Maryland, Utah, NY, Washington):
-130 Ravens +3pts; +110 Eagles -3pts
Bet365 (for UK & all non-USA residents):
5/6 Ravens +3pts; 1/1 Eagles -3pts
The following game against the Tennessee Titans, a team that finished with a 9-7 record and didn’t make the playoffs, it was as if Flacco and the Ravens regressed. He threw for just 197 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. The Ravens defense on the other hand allowed Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck to throw for 358 yards.
In 2010, Flacco once again started the season off strong. The Ravens played tough and even though they only scored one rushing touchdown, Flacco still threw for just one pick and 248 yards. The defense held the New York Jets to just three field goals.
The following week, Flacco melted down once again as the Ravens lost to the Cincinnati Bengals for what would end up being just one of four wins on the season. The Baltimore QB threw an incredible four interceptions and had just one touchdown with 154 passing yards.
How Will Michael Vick Rebound From His Four Interception Game Against the Browns?
If the Ravens did everything by their week one showing to make people believe they are indeed Superbowl contenders, then it was the Philadelphia Eagles who even in a win, did everything to have people believing quite the opposite. QB Mike Vick, who had two injuries in the preseason, especially left many doubters that he is the guy to finally take this Eagles team to a Superbowl victory.
Let’s start with his numbers from week one.
It was kind of an up and down day for Vick as he threw two touchdowns but also four interceptions. He led the game winning drive for the Eagles but ran for just 32 yards and even then half of that came on one of seven carries. Probably the most staggering number however is that Vick attempted 56 passes and threw for 317 yards.
56 passing attempts. That is Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning territory. To put it nicely, Vick has no business throwing the ball 56 times.
Vick’s best asset is his legs and his ability to take off and run when the play doesn’t develop as planned. He performs at his best when he is running an equal amount to his throwing as it keeps the defense off balance and allows him more options in the passing game. Also, the Eagles as a team do better when they run the ball more, something their head coach Andy Reid doesn’t exact game plan for.
Since Vick has also become target number one for the defenses because of his gritty style of playing the position, he has been under a lot more pressure. With pro-bowl tackle Jason Peters also out for the season with a knee injury, Vick is not really getting too much protection on the line either. Both of these could have contributed to his timing in terms of rushing the ball out of his hands. It doesn’t explain however, the bad decision making of throwing the ball multiple times into double coverage.
So for Vick the formula is simple. If the Eagles hope to beat the Ravens not only does he need to make less mistakes, but he also needs to use his legs more, execute his opportunities downfield and most importantly, he needs to control the offense and not let the Ravens defense dictate it for him.
2 Good Running Backs + 2 Bad Run Defenses = A Good Day for Ray Rice and Lesean McCoy
Both the Ravens and Eagles running backs should be salivating at the match-ups awaiting them on Sunday as both teams have had their struggles when it comes to stopping the run. For this reason, both Eagles RB Lesean McCoy and Ravens RB Ray Rice could both be headed for solid days.
Starting with the Ravens, last season their rushing defense was the second best in the league. They gave up less than 100 rushing yards per game and allowed opponents just 3.5 yards average per carry. The longest rushing play they surrendered was for just 25 yards, second to the Miami Dolphins best of 24 yards.
This season however, there is one big difference from that Ravens defense and this currently 24th ranked rushing defense and he is a pro-bowl linebacker with ten years NFL experience and 566 career tackles. Terrell Suggs, who last year sacked the QB 14 times and stopped the rushing attack with equal success, is currently on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) and will be out at least six weeks. It is no surprise that without him on the field, the Ravens gave up 127 yards to the Bengals and their running back Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis.
Then there is the Eagles who last season finished 16th out of 32 teams in terms of rushing defense. With a rotating set of linebackers, the Eagles biggest weakness came with runs up the middle.
To remedy this, in the offseason, the Eagles drafted LB Mychal Kendricks and signed free agent pro-bowl linebacker, DeMeco Ryans. Both Ryans and Kendricks had five tackles in their Eagles’ opener but it still wasn’t enough to stop the sporadic rushing from Trent Richardson, Brandon Weeden and several other Browns.
Ravens v Eagles Betting Picks & Summary
On paper, both teams have the talent to get to 2-0 on the season. Where it will come down to however is performance. The Ravens have a history of coming out of the gate forcefully but then regressing in the second week especially when week two is on the road like it will be this year. That said, Joe Flacco is trying to prove that he belongs in the conversation of the league’s best quarterbacks and the only way to do this is to perform like he did in week one on a consistent basis.
For the Eagles it comes down to how Mike Vick rebounds and the role Lesean McCoy plays in the offense. Philadelphia also has the advantage of being at home.
It will be a tough game for the Ravens but with the way the Eagles defense has come out of the gate, expect it to be close. Take the Eagles to beat the three-point spread in what will no doubt be a close and exciting contest from start to finish.
- Bet on the Eagles -1 point @ odds of -125 with BetOnline Sportsbook (accepts all Americans) or Eagles -3pts @ +110 with Bovada (takes all USA except residents of NY, Maryland, Utah & Washington states).