Game week is upon us, which means we'll be ramping up our preview coverage. We had some preview content last week, but it was more low key. Now it's time to get into more detail.
Prior to the Falcons game, we put together three posts looking at the Falcons offense, defense and special teams. It provided names, jersey numbers and some quick info. These cheat sheets are fairly basic, but hopefully help folks get ready for the Ravens. Big thanks to Baltimore Beatdown for providing this info. I have put together similar content over at Baltimore Beatdown, so swing by to toss in your two cents. We'll be posting offense now, defense at 9 a.m. and special teams at 10 a.m. PT.
The Ravens offense will be particularly pertinent this week, as they have looked increasingly strong this postseason. Joe Flacco, Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin represent a big threat in the passing game, while Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce will be a solid rushing duo to deal with on Sunday. BB breaks down a little bit about each of the offensive units.
Joe Flacco has started every single game since he was drafted in2008, proving he is among, if not the most durable QB in the NFL. Backup Tyrod Taylor was drafted in 2011 and other than the regular season finale when he threw 25 passes, he's only attempted only five other passes in his career. However, Flacco has been deadly this post season, throwing eight TD passes with no interceptions and the lowest QB Rating in the three playoff games of 106.
The Ravens are all about Ray Rice, as he is one of the best all-purpose backs in the NFL. To be fair, Vonta Leach is really the fullback, usually leading the way for Rice. Rookie Bernard Pierce has been an excellent option, rushing for over 500 yards (4.9 avg.) and actually out-gaining Rice in two of the three playoff games, averaging 6.3 yards per rush.
Boldin has been a physical beast in the playoffs and Smith has been stretching defenses with his speed and surprisingly solid hands. Jones made that huge last second catch to send the Broncos game into OT and while Doss has been given chances, his hands have been absolutely terrible lately.
Dickson was actually drafted one round (3rd) ahead of Pitta (4th) in 2010 and while Ed is also listed ahead of Dennis on the team website's depth chart, there is no question that Pitta is not only Joe's go-to target but also his best friend on the team.
Starters (from left to right): Bryant McKinnie (78), Kelechi Osemele (72), Matt Birk (77), Marshal Yanda (73), Michael Oher (74)
Reserves: Bobbie Williams (63), Gino Gradkowski (66), Ramon Harewood (70)
The Ravens re-vamped their o-line right before the next-to-last regular season game and since then, have protected Flacco as well as opening huge holes for the running game. McKinnie is now out of the coach's doghouse and Oher is a much better RT than LT. Yanda is an All-Pro, Birk a solid veteran and Osemele a physical athletic rookie. Together, they have allowed the run game to average over 4.5 yards/carry and only four sacks of Flacco in 97 drop-backs.
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