Regular Season Week Three: What To Look For

Baltimore Ravens

1.  QB Tom Brady vs S Ed Reed
This is a matchup between two of the best to ever play their positions.  If you don’t think this battle is important just look at this picture.  On the bottom of Brady’s wristband with all the plays on, you can see writings saying “Find 20 on every play.”  These two have great respect for each other and it will be a great chess match to watch.  Expect Brady to be looking for him before every play again.  If Reed can get interception on Brady it could be a game changer.

2.  Bernard Pollard
Pollard is know as the “Patriot Killer.”  This is because he tore Tom Brady‘s ACL in 2008 with the Chiefs.  He also tore Wes Welker’s ACL in 2010 with the Texans.  Last year he gave Rob Gronkowski a high ankle sprain in the AFC Championship game which really limited him in the Super Bowl.  Pollard doesn’t think of himself as a “Patriot Killer.”  In this weeks game he will have to help cover Patriots star TE Rob Gronkowski.  Last year Gronkowski had 5 catches for 87 yards in the AFC Championship game.  Pollard’s job is easier this time around as the other TE for the Patriots, Aaron Hernandez, is out with a sprained ankle.  Pollard is also coming off a rib contusion but is listed as probable on the injury report.

3.  C Matt Birk vs DT Vince Wilfork
In the AFC Championship, Wilfork bull rushed Birk very effectively.  This completely disrupted the Ravens offense at times.  This time around the Ravens should give help to Birk.  They should have G Marshal Yanda provide help on certain plays, especially runs up the middle.  It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Patriots blitz up the middle to try and take advantage of Birk’s age and the inexperience of the other starting guard, Ramon Harewood who has played in 2 NFL games.

4.  Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith
The Ravens need to get their two starting WRs more involved this week if they want to win.  Flacco can’t just target RB Ray Rice and TE Dennis Pitta all the time.  Last week Boldin and Smith combined for 4 catches for 58 yards.  This could be acceptable if they both had 4 catches for 58 yards but they didn’t.  Even that stat line is a little low for what Smith and Boldin should be doing.  The Patriots secondary isn’t nearly as good as the Eagles was.  Therefore, Boldin and Smith should be more involved in the game.  If I were calling the plays I would try to at least get them 5 catches.  I would use Smith to take the top off the defense and then run some curls and crossing routes to take advantage of the soft coverage on him.  Boldin should be doing the underneath and crossing routes most of the game.  Boldin is most effective on 3rd down so look for the Ravens to target him more in those situations.

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