The Baltimore Ravens will be looking to move to 2-0 this Sunday when rookie sensation Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals visit M&T Bank Stadium for the first time since 2011.
The Ravens will be looking to build on an explosive offensive performance in which they racked up a team record 643 total yards en route to a 59-10 shellacking of the Miami Dolphins. Lamar Jackson got off to a sauna hot start, leading the offense to four straight touchdown drives to open the game before the Ravens finally punted on their fourth drive.
In full Jackson finished 17-20 for 324 yards and five touchdown passes on his way to winning AFC offensive player of the week. He remains humble despite the accolades:
Jackson’s touchdowns were sprayed about to Marquise “Hollywood” Brown who caught a pair in his rookie debut, Willie Snead IV, Miles Boykin, and Pat Ricard. Brown was electric is his first game action and could be the one to put an end to the Ravens first round WR hex.
Defensively, the Ravens allowed 200 total yards and created three turnovers. Earl Thomas registered his first pick as a Raven with Marlon Humphrey adding his first of the year. The third turnover was caused on special teams when Justin Bethel recovered a muffed punt.
This was complete annihilation from Coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens. They will welcome a 0-0-1 Cardinals team to Baltimore in search of their first win after they tied the Detroit Lions last week.
Here’s what to watch for ahead of week two.
1) Ravens offensive line versus Cardinals pass rush
While many are hailing this as the Maxx Williams homecoming game (ok no one is doing this) it’s obviously the Michael Crabtree homecoming game. In all seriousness, the Ravens will welcome back future HOF’er Terrell Suggs this Sunday when the Cardinals come to town.
Suggs, who departed Baltimore in free agency this past offseason, had two sacks and three tackles for loss in his first game as a Cardinal. Opposite Suggs is Chandler Jones who had a sack and a tackle for loss in the opener as well. Sizzle offered up the following quote in his conference call with Baltimore media this week:
Suggs said he felt like it was time for him to leave Baltimore and he returns to M&T Bank Stadium looking to put the brakes on the Ravens new look offense which soared to 59 week one points. Sizzle was complimentary of Jackson and company:
Suggs and Jones will present a much larger challenge for the Ravens and their offensive line than anything the Dolphins created last week. If Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr can control the veteran pass rushing duo, look for the Ravens to be able to exploit a porous Cardinals pass defense that surrendered 385 yards to the Lions last week. The Cardinals will be without All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson who is serving a suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.
This matchup could go a long way in deciding Sunday’s contest.
2) How does the defense fare against better talent?
Say what you want about Fitzmagic, Albert Wilson, Preston Williams, Jakeem Grant, and Kenyan Drake. Try to hype them in any way that you can, but the talent that the Cardinals will be trotting out there on Sunday laps that group and then some.
It starts with Murray, who after struggling in the first half last week, rallied his troops back from an 18 point fourth quarter deficit. Murray finished 29-54 for 308 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. This will be last year’s Heisman trophy winner’s first NFL road game and the Ravens have long feasted on rookie quarterbacks throughout the Harbaugh era. With that being said, what Murray brings to the table exceeds what Fitzpatrick does at this point.
Father time has not yet defeated future HOF’er Larry Fitzgerald as the veteran had 8 catches for 113 yards and a touchdown last week. The Cardinals also have dual threat running back David Johnson that the Ravens will have contend with. Johnson, arguably a top five back in the NFL, had 24 touches last week for 137 total yards and a touchdown.
The Cardinals have a unique “Air Raid” offense under first year coach Kliff Kingsbury and the Ravens will be without cornerback Jimmy Smith who will be miss a few weeks with a knee injury. The Cardinals will prove a bigger test for an injury hit Ravens secondary and new leader Earl Thomas. Thomas had a pick in week one but has bigger goals:
I think Thomas comes up with another pick this week and helps steady the ship at the back of the Ravens defensive backfield. The competition will be stiffer this week, but Thomas the secondary are up for the challenge.
3) What is the atmosphere like Sunday?
The Ravens have been struggling with attendance the last few years and there are a plethora of reasons as to why. These include lack of excitement on the field, the advantages of watching from home, the plight of the city (Yes this does matter to some so stop ignoring it), the kneeling incident in London, and the decrease in winning just to name a few.
With a 59 point, 643 yard eruption last week in Miami, fans should have reason to be excited about the Ravens new look offense. I talked about the new blood last week and every single player I highlighted balled out with the exception of Jaleel Scott who didn’t dress.
Many downplay the significance of the other causes of the drop in attendance, so Sunday should be a good indication of whether those people are right. It’s supposed to be in the low to mid 80’s on Sunday and the Ravens are coming off of a huge win and are 13.5 point favorites in the home opener.
There’s no excuse for the Bank to not be rocking like the days of old.
Jake McDonnell: Ravens 41 Cardinals 20
Nolan McGraw: Ravens 31 Cardinals 21
Isaiah Stumpf: Ravens 38 Cardinals 13
Ian Schultz: Ravens 30 Cardinals 17
While the Ravens are not likely to break any team records this week against a slightly better Cardinals team, they should have enough in the tank to handle the Cardinals with relative ease. Arizona figures to be drafting in the top 8 this coming year and with a big showdown in Kansas City looming next week, the Ravens will handle their business in the opener.
Image Credit: Baltimore Ravens