Regular Season Week One: What To Look For
The Baltimore Ravens start the regular season on Monday Night Football at home against a divisional rival, the Cincinnati Bengals.
1. WR AJ Green vs the Ravens Secondary
A few days ago Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Green might be the best WR in the NFL. Last year, Green only played one game against the Ravens and had 2 catches for 26 yards. Green is only in his second year but is primed to breakout and have a great game. It is unknown who will cover him. Most likely it will be by committee based off of where he lines up. Expect Jimmy Smith, Cary Williams, and Lardarius Webb all to line up against him during the game. Since the Bengals don’t have a 2nd threat at WR, expect S Ed Reed to shade to Green’s side of the field to help the cornerbacks.
2. WR Torrey Smith vs the Bengals Secondary
Just like Green, Smith is a 2nd year player primed to have a breakout year. Smith brings great speed to the table. This preseason, Smith looked like a much more balanced and complete WR. In two games against the Bengals last year Smith had 11 catches for 198 yards and 1 TD. This year the Bengals will have top CB Leon Hall back from a achilles injury. Expect Hall to cover Smith a majority of the game as he is more of a threat than Anquan Boldin at this point in there careers.
3. G Marshal Yanda vs DT Geno Atkins
This will be a great matchup to watch for old school football fans. Last year both of them made All-Pro and Pro Bowl teams. This will be the most important battle for the Ravens running game. If Yanda can keep Atkins out of the way Ray Rice could find some big holes. Atkins is also an accomplished pass rushing, accumulating 7.5 sacks last year which is very high for an interior lineman. Expect Yanda to handle Atkins by himself when he faces Atkins but the Ravens will probably provide help if Atkins is facing the other guard, Bobbie Williams.
4. Ravens New Offensive Line
According to reports earlier today, the Ravens will mix up their offensive line and start Michael Oher at LT and rookie Kelechi Osemele at RT. This move puts veteran Bryant McKinnie on the bench. The rest of the line will be as it was in the preseason with Bobbie Williams and Marshal Yanda at G and Matt Birk at C. Since Yanda starts at RG he can help Osemele is he needs help. Osemele really played well in the preseason I expected to see him start sometime during the year but not week one and not at RT. There was talk of him replacing Williams at LG to start the season but that obviously hasn’t happened. This is a move towards the future for the Ravens and if it works 3 of the 5 starting lineman will be under the age of 27 which will be good as Williams and Birk are 35 and 36 respectively.