9/08/2019 Dolphins vs. Ravens Pregame
The NFL’s 100th season is now underway and the 2019 campaign is upon us. The Baltimore Ravens kick off their season this Sunday in Miami for what is likely to be one of the easiest road games on their schedule. The Dolphins are getting absolutely no love from the sports pundits and in most pre-season rankings they are finding themselves ranked dead last in the NFL. Expectations are low for the Dolphins this season and the Ravens are fortunate to start the season against an inferior opponent, especially on the road. The Ravens looked good in preseason and for the fourth straight year they ran the table going 4 and O. The only real disappointment during the preseason was losing Tavon Young to a season ending neck injury. That said, compared to previous years the Ravens got through camp and the preseason relatively unharmed. This year’s Ravens team is younger and faster than last year’s squad but that also comes with less game experience in key positions. For the Ravens to be successful this season – much of the burden will fall on their coaching staff who will have their hands full developing this talent. Lamar in particular will have to improve for the Ravens to be contenders, and by all accounts he has improved which is an important early sign.
Here are few things to like heading into Sunday’s game
• Lamar is healthy and has had full camp of first team reps. He has had time to get extra work in with his new receivers. He demonstrates an excellent work ethic and is already showing that he can be a leader on the field.
• Boyles, Andrews and Hurst are a dynamic group of tight ends and they each bring something unique to the position. Can’t wait to see what they produce as the season progresses.
• The linebackers, while lacking experience, may be some of the fastest that we have had in seen in years. Board, Young, and Peanut will all share time on the inside and should provide better pass coverage than CJ.
• The Ravens secondary is strong and deep, albeit Tavon’s injury hurt the defense because he was so good in the slot. The Ravens should do better in garnering interceptions especially with the addition of Thomas and the progression of Humphrey.
• Ingram, Gus the Bus and Hill along with Lamar should rack up healthy numbers on the ground and I would be shocked if they didn’t rank in the top 5 for yards per game by season’s end.
• Ravens have the best kicker in the game, and there are several games a year that are won by the team with the best kicker.
Here are few things to be concerned
• Offensive line is looking sketchy to me and their options at left guard and center are, in my opinion, below average talent. You have to hope that Coach D’Alessandris can help this group improve over time. Any injuries on our offensive line are really going to hurt given our lack of depth.
• While I love our new receiving group, the reality is rookie receivers don’t typically set the world on fire in their first year. Moore and Snead, the two veterans of this group, are solid but neither of them is a number one or number two receiver on most NFL teams. Let’s hope that Brown and Boykin rise to the challenge and exceed expectations.
• The Ravens lost Smith and Suggs in the offseason and they accounted for 15.5 sacks last year and it doesn’t look like they have the personnel to get those sacks this year. Judon should get his fair share of sacks but it remains to be seen who will step up and provide some additional support. Bowser flashed at times in the preseason but that was against the scrubs so not sure what he will actually contribute. It will likely be up to Coach Wink to dial up blitzing schemes to get pressure on the quarterbacks given his lack of talent on the edge.
• Weather will be hot and humid on Sunday and the Ravens will be in their purple jerseys – so let’s hope that they don’t wilt under the sun.
The first game of the season is always difficult to assess because we don’t really know how the offense and defense will play in game conditions. Also, most of these players have only played a quarter or so in games thus far and on Sunday they will be expected to play 60 minutes. The heat and fatigue will absolutely play a part in this game and you will know by game’s end who the better conditioned team is by how well they play in the second half. The defense will have to deal with Ryan Fitzpatrick who last year started out on fire racking up back to back 400+ yard games. Defense needs pressure him and force some mistakes – which he is prone to make. Ravens are clearly the more talented team and that should prove out to be true on Sunday. If they play within their strengths and protect the ball this game should be over by the end of third quarter. Game predictions in September are always dicey because we are still learning who is who – but I think the Ravens win this one going away. Vegas has the Raven’s by 6 ½ points and I think they cover this one. Enjoy the game and stay thirsty my friends.
Score Ravens 27 Dolphins 13
Turnovers Plus 1
Net Rushing Yardage Ravens 135 Dolphins 79
Net Passing Yardage Ravens 226 Dolphins 211
• Mark Andrews leads all receivers with 7 catches for 68 yards
• Lamar Jackson has 8 carries for 48 yards
• Earl Thomas gets an interception in his first game as a Raven
• Refs make terrible calls
Keys to the Game
• Pressure Fitzpatrick and force mistakes
• Control the clock
• Win the turnover battle