Could this be the weekend for that?
On the surface, this looks like a really tough game. The Ravens are 7-6, having won four out of their last six contests. The only losses were to Dallas and New England, two of the hottest teams in the league. The Eagles are not hot, having dropped four games in a row. Beyond that, the Eagles are banged up. They are also on the road and that has proved to be a challenge for the team this year. Again, it's a tough game.
There is something funny about this team, though. The Eagles beat the Steelers, who look like one of the best teams in the league. This team beat Minnesota, who is still in playoff contention and has the No. 2 defense in the league. The Eagles also beat the Falcons, who are atop the NFC South and are the highest-scoring team in the league. It seems like playing against top competition has brought out the best in this team. The low point of the season came against a bad Bengals team. Tough situations seem to motivate the Eagles and help them to focus. That has me wondering if this trip to Baltimore will be one of those games.
The Eagles won't have
This just might be another game to throw a lot. The Patriots put up 401 passing yards last week against the Ravens. Starting corner Jimmy Smith is out this week with an ankle injury. Another corner, Jerraud Powers, is questionable with a concussion. I'm certainly not telling you throwing on the Ravens is easy, but it seems like the better strategy than trying to run on them.
You also have to take into account that the Eagles' offensive line could be shuffled again.
Seumalo is 6-4 and 303 pounds. He has 33-inch arms. That's a solid frame for the outside. Some interior players are 6-2 and have 31- or 32-inch arms. Guys like that would be overwhelmed if trying to move outside. Seumalo has the length and footwork to handle the move. He doesn't have a lot of practice time there so his technique will likely be an issue, but the Eagles don't have a lot of options at this point. I don't think he'll have the rough start that
It will be up to Pederson to help Seumalo out if he's the right tackle. It will be up to Wentz to help him by getting rid of the ball quickly and also using his feet when he can. It will also be up to the backs and tight ends to help with chip blocks and double teams. This will be a challenge for the whole offense.
The Eagles' defense needs to do its part by keeping the score down. With Sproles out and a rookie guard possibly starting at right tackle, the Eagles aren't likely to win a shootout. They need this to be an ugly game, something like 20-13. That only happens if the defense can shut down the inconsistent Ravens offense.
When you think of Ravens football, you think of great defense and a good run game. This Ravens team plays the defense, but running the ball is a different story. They are 28th in the NFL in rushing. As crazy as it sounds, Baltimore has thrown more passes than any other team in the league. The team that builds a solid rushing attack may win the game.
The Eagles' secondary has to deal with the speed of Mike Wallace. He isn't a great receiver, but still runs really well and can make plays. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz gave
The defense will have a chance to make plays. Joe Flacco has been sacked 25 times this year. He has thrown 12 interceptions. The Eagles' defense made some plays last week. As Schwartz said, the problem is that they gave up too many plays. Baltimore isn't as explosive as Washington so that should help, but Flacco has a big arm and he can deliver the ball downfield. The defensive line has to pressure him so that he gets the ball out quickly and throws more short passes.
The Eagles lost last week, but there were some positive aspects to the game. I'm curious to see if the team is going to come out more confident and energetic this week. Some losses are very disheartening and others leave you with the attitude that, “we just ran out of time.” That kind of spirit can carry over from one game to the next.
The Ravens are going to be a big challenge on Sunday. That just might be what the Eagles need to bring out the best in them.
Tommy Lawlor, goeagles99 on the Discussion Boards, is an amateur football scout and devoted Eagles fan. He is the Editor of IgglesBlitz.com.