Game Preview

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens v. Steelers

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Offense 1.      Single back set on first and second down; two back set on third-and-long Last season, three of the four teams that beat the Steelers set up in a one back, shotgun set on most early downs. Those teams – the Saints, Patriots and Packers – featured variations of three receiver, four receiver, and two-tight end formations to make plays in the passing game. The act of spreading the Steelers out on first and second down not only created matchup problems for the base defense, but kept the vaunted...

BATTLE PLANS: Divisional Playoff Ravens @ Steelers

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Offense 1.      Polamalu out of the box: It is a mystery as to how the Ravens had such a hard time identifying a player who wears a mountain of hair under his helmet. The Steeler great has confounded the Baltimore offense just as recently as in Week 13 of the season. Everyone remembers his strip/sack play of Joe Flacco in Baltimore. But during the regular season game in Pittsburgh, Polamalu lined up to blitz off-tackle numerous times, including a rush that came directly in Flacco’s sightline. Yet in every instance,...

WILD CARD BATTLE PLANS: Ravens @ Chiefs

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Offense 1.      Throw from power sets: The Chiefs are gunning for the run, especially after being dismantled by the Oakland ground attack last Sunday. The Ravens should show run, only to pass against the Kansas City base defense. In 2009, the Ravens started their game against Kansas City by showing run-action, only to throw off of the play-fake. It’s not just a matter of using a fake while the line is stationary. The illusion of run-action goes to the way the guards may pull seemingly to block for a run...

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens v. Bengals

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Offense 1.      Open attack: Although this is a decimated version of the Cincinnati defenses that the Ravens have faced in the past, the scheme will remain the same on Sunday afternoon. The Baltimore offense will get its best chance to attack a two-deep shell before the postseason begins. Since the four interception performance by quarterback Joe Flacco, he has fared much better against zone defenses, including Atlanta, Carolina, and Tampa Bay. Still, the Bengals have had Flacco’s number. In his last three games against this unit, he has thrown eight...

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens v. Saints

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Offense 1.      Quick release: Against the pressure intensive Saints, the game plan has to be predicated on a swift attack. The Saints has a fast front seven, and speed is their biggest asset. Therefore, the internal alarm in quarterback Joe Flacco’s head needs to go off sooner. Flacco has had a difficult time with releasing the ball on time, especially against the blitz. He tends to hold the ball, anticipating a route to develop. He also has too much confidence in his ability to evade the rush to keep the...

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens @ Texans

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Offense 1.      Hog the ball: The Ravens have traditionally been slow starters out of the gate. Against the Texans, a slow start could lead to more of a back-and-forth game. Baltimore has to find a way to establish an early lead by putting together time consuming drives. Ideally, the Ravens would be able to put points up on the board while draining the clock, thereby keeping the high-powered Houston offense off the field. The Ravens had lost their ability to eat the clock through the last couple of games. They...

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens v. Steelers II

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Offense 1.      Three wide, shotgun set: There are as many storylines as there are Pro Bowl players to line up on Sunday night. Among the key concerns is whether fullback Le’Ron McClain will line up at fullback when the grudge match between AFC North rivals ensues. Given McClain’s potential unavailability, the offense will have to operate from more spread formations. Against Pittsburgh, the formation of choice would be a shotgun set in which T.J. Houshmandzadeh is the third receiver, and the backs next to quarterback Joe Flacco are tailback Ray...

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens v. Bucs

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Offense 1.      Run/Pass Read: Tampa Bay lines up in a base Cover 2 look on most downs. However, in this game against the Ravens, the Bucs may show more Cover 3 with the strong safety dropping closer to the line. Tampa Bay has struggled to stop the run all season, so they could use an eighth man to defend the Baltimore tailbacks. It will be up to Joe Flacco to make the right adjustment at the line depending on how the safeties are positioned. If he is facing the Cover...

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens @ Panthers

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Offense 1.      Fast and furious: The Ravens have been absolutely dreadful coming out of the blocks on the road. The stats are staggering, including going scoreless in the first quarter in four out of five road games they have played this season. That trend needs to change against Carolina on Sunday. The Ravens should look to pass on first down and establish a rhythm with quarterback Joe Flacco with pass completions off of play-action. Play-action fakes should be effective against a defense that will commit much of its attention to...

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens @ Falcons

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Offense 1.      Control the clock: One of the biggest keys for success against Atlanta is controlling the tempo and time of possession. On Thursday night, the best defense against a high-powered Atlanta offense will inevitably be a ball-control, clock churning offense. In order to hog the ball, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron should devise a game plan that features plenty of intermediate pass plays and carries to the backs. While finishing these drives will be equally important, the offense has to stay on the field to keep the defense fresh and...

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens v. Dolphins

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Offense 1)      Throw away from Vontae Davis: Although the Miami secondary is potentially vulnerable, the second-year cornerback is not someone who can be picked on. Davis has emerged as a tough man-to-man cover corner who has been able to slow down most of the receivers he has faced this season. Davis is also a capable playmaker with the ball skills to make a play on the ball.   On the other hand, the corners opposite of Davis can be exposed. Quarterback Joe Flacco will need to make a concerted effort...

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens v. Bills

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Offense 1.      Attack from the jump: The Ravens remain a predominant first down rushing attack. There has been very little change up in their approach. They run the ball up the gut with Ray Rice, hoping for a quick three or four yard gain. Opposing defenses are packed in to stop the Baltimore rushing attack and more times than not, they hold the Ravens to a modest gain. On first down, the Ravens need to take advantage of their natural play-action opportunities. They don’t need to set up the pass...

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens @ Patriots

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Battle Plans: Ravens vs. Patriots Offense 1)     Control the clock: In last year’s playoff domination of the New England Patriots, the Ravens were able to hog the ball and control the time of possession battle. The same formula for success would have to apply this Sunday. In particular, the Ravens will have to find a way to move the chains on the ground. This would call for the offensive line to get movement at the point of attack. The biggest obstacle will be nose guard Vince Wilfork. The Patriots main...

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens v. Broncos

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Offense 1.      Find Brian Dawkins: One of the big keys for success in the Ravens’ 30-7 romp over Denver a year ago had to do with their ability to complete timely passes against a tough Denver secondary. In particular, quarterback Joe Flacco did an outstanding job of recognizing the Cover One look that Denver employs quite often. Given safety Brian Dawkins’ ability to blitz and stuff the run, Denver will use him as a box player. Once he shifts from the deep half closer to the line of scrimmage, one...

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens @ Steelers

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Offense 1.      Pass the ball on early downs: Winning the down-and-distance battle against the men of steel is absolutely critical. For an offense, not being on schedule toward third down conversions means being in danger against an opportunistic defense. The Steelers absolutely thrive in obvious passing situations. For the Ravens, gaining yardage on first and second down is a must. However, they won’t be able to consistently gain yardage through the running game, as the Steelers are the best early down run defense in the league. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron...

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens v. Browns

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Offense 1.      No-huddle offense: The Ravens operated from a hurry-up, no huddle attack through their opening series in games against Carolina, Washington, and New York. One would have thought they were gearing up to use that approach in their opening tilts against the Jets and the Bengals. However, the offense huddled up in those games, perhaps in anticipation of the crowd noise. Now that the team will be at home against the Browns, there is a perfect opportunity to breakout their speed offense. Moreover, if the Ravens use this attack...

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens @ Bengals

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Offense 1.      Hurried spread attack: Against the Jets, the Baltimore offense didn’t need to score a lot of points to win the game. The Bengals are a different animal. They have the offensive capability to either keep pace with the Ravens or to lap them. Therefore, the Baltimore offense will have to be in attack mode from the start. For the most part, the Ravens kept their offensive formations tight to counter the New York blitz. They will need to spread it out against a Bengals defense that will play...

Battle Plans: Ravens vs.Jets

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Offense 1.      Quick release: Whether the ball needs to be delivered off of a three-step, five-step or seven-step drop, quarterback Joe Flacco will need to get rid of the ball on time. If it’s a three-step pattern, he’ll need to be in rhythm once he firmly plants his foot in the ground. Given the speed of New York’s pass rush, any missteps by Flacco could result in a sack or a hurried throw. Moreover, the count should usually go to three and five steps until the offensive line can prove...

Why the Ravens picked back-to-back tight ends

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When Baltimore came back around in the fourth round and nabbed tight end Dennis Pitta from BYU, many observers were probably dumbfounded.   Two high-profile tight end prospects in back-to-back spots?   It seemed that the Ravens’ selection of Pitta and Ed Dickson may have been overkill.   However, there is definitely more than meets the eye. Although Pitta and Dickson are similar in size and weight measurables, and are exceptional pass catching tight ends with unrefined blocking skills, their roles and route combinations will be different in the offense. While...

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens @ Colts, Divisional Playoff Game

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Offense   1)      Run deception: The play-action passing game is wide open for the Ravens on first down. Whether they are able to execute is a different story.                 Thanks to the attention that the Baltimore rushing attack has garnered over the week, the Indianapolis defenders will have their eyes in the backfield. At times this season, they have bitten up field to defend the run. However, they also have the speed to recover and break on the ball if the pass is delivered late.   Joe Flacco’s timing will need...