This Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens take on Cam Newton and the stout Carolina Panthers defense. Steve Smith gets to take on his former team and let all kinds of crazy out. Like Smith said back in March, “there’s going to be blood and guts everywhere.” Here are three things I’m keeping my eye on:
3) Torrey Smith
Torrey has yet to find his stride so far this season. He has just six catches for 85 yards through three games. He has a few drops, too. He seems to be struggling to separate from his receivers and has yet to make that big play that Ravens fans are so accustomed to seeing. It may be that defenses are keying in more on Torrey, which could be why Steve Smith is seeing much more of the action. A screen here and there for Smith wouldn’t hurt. The Ravens have to find a way to get him the ball. His big-play ability is too valuable.
2) Terrell Suggs and the pass rush
This is a two-in-one, because I’m generous like that. Suggs has yet to record a sack so far, and the defense as a whole has just two sacks as a unit (31st in the league), one which came on a broken play against the Browns. The sacks aren’t the only problem; the pass rush in general has been abysmal. Andy Dalton, Ben Roethisberger and Brian Hoyer have all had days to throw the ball and as a result, the weak Baltimore secondary has paid the price. Suggs has looked good playing the run, but it would be nice to see him get back in that sack column.
1) Left Tackle
I was going to make this last point about the special teams and the lack of big plays, but news broke this week that Eugene Monroe will be sidelined for multiple weeks after having surgery on his knee. That means that undrafted rookie James Hurst will take his place. Losing Monroe and replacing him with an undrafted rookie obviously hurts. Hurst gets to see his first NFL action against one of the top defenses in the league, so it will be interesting to see how he handles it and how much help the Ravens give Hurst. Look for more quick passes, screens and tight ends chipping linemen to minimize harm on Flacco.
So, keep you eyes peeled on those three aspects of the game. As far as predictions go, I think it’ll be a relatively low-scoring affair, with the Ravens coming out on top, 21-17.
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