Game Preview: Ravens at Rams

Which Ravens team will show up on Sunday, the one vs. the Steelers or vs. the Titans?

Posted by Ryan Mink on Saturday, September 24th, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Categories: 2011 Season Gameday, Ryan Mink, Week 3 at Rams

Will the real Ravens please stand up?

After a dominating win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, then a disappointing performance versus the Tennessee Titans, fans are wondering which team will arrive in St. Louis.

It’s still very early in the season, but the Ravens are looking for an early rebound.

And all that means right now is coming out on the winning side against a team that’s better than its 0-2 record indicates.

“We’re the Ravens team that has to go out there on Sunday and get a win,” running back Ray Rice said.

“Last week was a great learning experience for us as a team because now we got the taste of being in a hostile environment. It’s kind of good to go through adversity early because later in the year you’re already battle-tested.”

Rice said there is a team-wide feeling of being angry about last week’s loss, but he also cautioned that the Rams are likely not too happy either.

While Baltimore is looking to avoid losing back-to-back games for the first time since Oct. 11, 2009, St. Louis is trying to avoid what would be a disastrous 0-3 start for a team that was on the cusp of the playoffs last year.

“When a team has that pressure to get a win under their belts, they will probably play a little bit more like they don’t have anything to lose, and they will probably come after us a little bit more,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “It is going to be our job to play the exact same way.”

3 Matchups To Watch

OT Bryant McKinnie vs. DE Chris Long
Perhaps the Rams’ most disruptive player, Long already has two sacks in the young season. The second overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, Long is a powerful, speed rusher off the edge. The burly McKinnie will not only have to handle him, but also recognize the Rams’ heavy-blitzing schemes. St. Louis is aggressive, but if the Ravens can give Flacco just enough time, he could burn the Rams.

RB Ray Rice vs. MLB James Laurinaitis
Baltimore’s offense largely hinges on Rice. If he can expose the Rams’ linebackers in coverage, that would greatly help Flacco, who won’t have the services of wide receiver Lee Evans. The Rams, who are led by Laurinaitis, are last in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (177.5) can be exposed by Rice’s running too, which never got going in Tennessee.

S Ed Reed vs. QB Sam Bradford
Bradford hasn’t thrown an interception yet this season, but whenever there’s a young quarterback under center who hasn’t seen much time against Reed, there’s always a higher chance for turnovers. Reed had two picks in Week 1, but wasn’t around the ball as much in Tennessee. He’s got his eye on the third-year quarterback.

3 Questions To Answer

How will the young wide receivers respond?
With Evans (ankle) out, the Ravens will turn to youngsters Torrey Smith and LaQuan Williams and perhaps activate Tandon Doss. Baltimore has yet to complete a pass to any of its rookie wideouts, but they will have to be trusted and active if the Ravens want to test St. Louis deep.

Can the Ravens rejuvenate the run game?
Baltimore ran for 170 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers’ hard-nosed defense, yet just 45 versus the Titans. Part of the reason was not having guard Ben Grubbs, but the Ravens need to figure out a way to open more holes for the rushing attack even if he can’t play again.

Can the defense stop a quick-release offense?
The Ravens had trouble getting pressure on quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, whose quick, timed passes gashed Baltimore’s short-handed cornerback corps. Chris Carr could return, which would help, but the Ravens said all week that the only solution is better coverage.

Team Rankings

Ravens
Total Offense – 307.5 (25)
Rush Offense – 107.5 (12t)
Pass Offense – 199.5 (25t)
Point Per Game – 24.0 (15)

Total Defense – 372.0 (22)
Rush Defense – 70.0 (4)
Pass Defense – 302.0 (28)
Point Per Game – 16.5 (5)

Rams
Total Offense – 351.0 (18)
Rush Offense – 106.5 (14)
Pass Offense – 244.5 (14t)
Point Per Game – 14.5 (28)

Total Defense – 351.5 (20)
Rush Defense – 177.5 (32)
Pass Defense – 174.0 (4t)
Points Per Game – 29.5 (28)

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