By Ken Murray
10:47 AM EDT, September 25, 2011
After getting badly outcoached and outplayed last week in Tennessee, the Ravens return to their comfort zone in St. Louis today. They face a weak NFC West team with a one-dimensional offense and a bad defense.
The Rams are no match for the Ravens. And only the Ravens can keep the Rams in this game. But don’t expect it to happen. Here are three reasons why Baltimore wins handily in the Edward Jones Dome:
1) The Ravens will run the ball and control the clock against a defense that is last in the NFL against the rush. Ray Rice will do his impersonation of Rams’ Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk and pile up lots of yards. Ricky Williams will get his share, too, and left tackle Bryant McKinnie will be in a little better shape this week, having gone through the Nashville debacle. At least you would think so.
2) Quarterback Joe Flacco, who apparently trusts no one in the offense who hasn’t played with him for at least a year, needs to spread the ball around and get familiar with his young receivers. He should be able to do this because the running game will put him in ideal passing situations. Last week’s game against a cover-2 defense was an abomination for Flacco – again. Four years in, it’s time to eliminate these woeful outings. And after two weeks this year, he is completing only 52.5 percent of his throws, well off his career average of 62 percent. That figure should improve substantially against the Rams.
3) Now the defense: Even when the Ravens made the Titans one-dimensional on offense last week, Matt Hasselbeck carved them up with his three-step drops, flanker screens and a few well-timed deep throws. Sam Bradford should have a better career than Hasselbeck, but he’s playing worse than Flacco right now, completing only 51.3 percent. Worse, the Rams are decidedly one-dimensional coming into the game because Steven Jackson is hurt. Bradford has looked good in the no-huddle so far, but that’s a dangerous strategy if you don’t move the chains and your defense can’t stop the other team. The Ravens should be able to get pressure on Bradford, and that will make the job of the corners much easier. Technique breakdowns like the Ravens had last week should not play a big role today.
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