The Jets and Ravens made runs in last years playoffs, and the expectations are even higher this year. The Ravens are letting the media do the talking, while the hard-knock Jets have made their predictions well known. Both are thinking Superbowl.
This game has all the story lines and hype you could ask for. Opening week, Monday Night Football, first game at the new Meadowlands, big names with new teams, former coach versus his old team, and a little pre-game jibber-jabber between Rex Ryan and Ray Lewis.
So lets talk football. I agree with what seems to be the consensus, that the Ravens are one of the top 3 or 4 teams heading into the season, but I am a little worried for this game. In addition to the magic that comes with opening a new stadium on MNF, I am concerned with the Ravens offensive line and secondary.
With the additions of Anquan Boldin and TJ Houshmandzadeh, the Ravens finally have depth at the Wide Receiver position, but Flacco will need time to throw. The offensive line is without Jared Gaither and Michael Oher is still not an established left tackle in the NFL, although he might be by the end of this season. Keep in mind this is a Rex Ryan defense the Ravens are going up against. The Jets should be able to get pressure on Flacco. Ravens players and fans know well the “organized chaos” that Ryan’s defenses posses.
I am expecting a decent amount of dump offs to Ray Rice and underneath routes by the receivers. Yes, as a Ravens fans I know how painful that is to hear. If you have been a Ravens fan for the past decade, you might think that was all our playbook was comprised of before John Harbaugh. I don’t think this will be the case at all throughout the season, but it will be on monday night if the line struggles to pass protect.
The Ravens will also be without Ed Reed and Lardarius Webb in the secondary. The pick up of CB Josh Wilson from Seattle will help, but the secondary remains a question mark as both Fabian Washington and Ladarius Webb are recovering from 2009 injuries. That being said, the Ravens defense is still expected to perform at a high level. They are loaded at linebacker and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata should slow down the Jets running game.
While the offensive nod goes to the Ravens, the defensive question marks make this game a toss up. I think special teams will play a particularly large role. It might be a special teams touchdown or a return that sets up good field position for the winning score.
Score: Ravens 20 Jets 16
Stat: Zbikowski has long punt return, either for a score or to set up a TD
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Written by Marc Cerniglia