Cardinals – Ravens Preview
Ed. note: the following comes to us courtesy of Gregory Esposito at the AZ Sports Hub, part of the Behind Enemy Lines alliance. Enjoy.
The Red Birds come into Baltimore on a high as they finally won a game it looked like there wouldn’t and evened their record at 1-1. A late forced fumble set up the game-winning field goal against the Seahawks. Yes, that’s right. For once in the Cards’ long history they had good luck instead of bad.
The offense has been as advertised with new head coach Ken Whisenhunt. They’re a hard-nosed team who have run the ball as many times as they have thrown it this year.
Edgerrin James has carried a majority of the offensive load as he has run 50 times for 220 yards and 2 touchdowns so far. His field vision is back to what it was when he was in Indy and the revamped offensive line has managed to open holes wider then Paris Hilton’s legs (just ask Matt Leinart).
Speaking of Leinart, he bounced back after a difficult game one against the 49ers. He’s still going through the growing pains of a second year quarterback but he has dedicated himself to showing up at the practice facility at 5:30 AM to study film and being the last one to leave. The Ravens defense is probably the toughest he has faced in his young career so he will have to minimize the mistakes if the Cardinals are to win.
Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are as advertised, continuing to catch more balls than people in Baltimore catch STD’s. They both have over 100 yards receiving thus far this season. Boldin has become a focal point of the offense being used in the backfield and in trick plays the same way Whisenhunt used Antwan Randle El in his time in Pittsburgh.
Tight End Leonard Pope has also emerged as a weapon in the red zone. He also can help spread the field as he had a 30 yard touchdown reception in last weeks match up.
The defense has been a pleasant surprise as they shut down both Frank Gore and Shaun Alexander in consecutive weeks. They have only given up a combined 83 yards rushing in two weeks and only 190 through the air.
The new 3-4 defensive scheme has proven to be solid despite players playing out of position. The secondary is probably the weakest part of the defense as Eric Green is undersized and they have yet to intercept a pass.
They have been able to control the line of scrimmage recording 4 sacks in two games, 5 tackles for losses, and forcing four fumbles.
The return game leaves something to be desired for the Red Birds. They average 19 yards per return on kickoffs and only 6.8 yards on Punts.
Kicker Neil Rackers continues to be solid making 4 of his 5 attempts and hasn’t missed from under 50 yards. His long was a 52-yarder. This game could very easily come down to the leg of Rackers as it did last week.
This is a tough game to figure out as the Ravens offense has injuries. With McNair recovering from his groin and Ogden out, the Cards’ defensive job is easier than it could have been. The Ravens defense will have the early advantage but if the offense can withstand the early onslaught they have a very good chance to take this game. In the end though the Ravens will pull out a defensive battle by the score of 20-16.