It’s that time of the year. The time when all of the best teams in the NFL are thrown into a “Battle Royal”, winner take all format to see which team will be hoisting the Lombardy Trophy when it is all said and done.
The Baltimore Ravens find themselves sitting pretty after finishing the season with a record of 12-4 and an AFC North championship. The Ravens are the number 2 seed in the AFC playoffs, and have a first-round bye as well as a guaranteed home playoff game. Baltimore has faced a season of very many highs, but also a decent amount of lows for a team of their caliber. The Ravens have the talent to compete with the best night in and night out, but there are times when that talent goes to waste and they play to the level of their competition, good or bad.
There are five things that the Ravens need to do to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, and if they do these things and play RAVENS football there isn’t a team in the AFC that should defeat them.
1. More Ray Rice, Less Joe Flacco:
The Ravens are at their best when the offense is ran through the superstar running back. Rice needs to touch the ball between 25 and 35 times a game for their best chance to be successful offensively. Rice’s versatility coming out of the backfield is unmatched, and the Ravens need to find a way to feed their best player the ball.
2. Make Joe Flacco A Game Manager
Early on this season it seemed as if the Ravens were trying to change their identity. Since becoming an NFL team in 1996, the Ravens have been known as a ground and pound team offensively. There were times this season when the Ravens tried to beat teams through the air, and that is not what they are about or have ever been about. In all four games that the Ravens lost, Flacco threw over 30 passes and against the Seahawks he threw 52 passes. Flacco is not a quarterback that you can rely on to take over games, he is at his best when he is held to under 25 passes a game.
3. Score Touchdowns! Not Field Goals!
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with putting points on the board when you can, but the Ravens got in the red zone a lot this year and settled for field goals too many times. With possibly playing the likes of Houston, New England, and even Pittsburgh, Baltimore is going to need to put points up. These teams have offenses that can be explosive, and even though the Ravens defense is one of the best, they shouldn’t have to worry about the defense making unbelievable plays every game to win. The Ravens offense needs to hold their own and comfortably give their defense a cushion.
4. Use Pitta and Dickson
There aren’t many teams in the NFL that have two reliable tight ends. Pitta and Dickson may be the best tight end combo in the NFL, and their consistency has been huge for the Ravens success. These two are comfortable and big targets for Flacco, and they allow to get the ball down field without being too comple. Pitta and Dickson, along with Rice, will be the cornerstone for a Ravens offense that needs to manage the clock against whoever they play.
5. Let The Defense Get After It!
We all know that the Ravens defense is one of the best in the league and has been for several years. This defense is ranked in the top 5 in both passing and rushing yards allowed per game. They find ways to not allow teams to make big plays. Also, the Ravens are amazing at getting offenses out of rhythm. They have arguably the greatest defense player to ever play the game in Ray Lewis and the sack machine Terrell Suggs and these two will not let back at all this postseason. If they play with the intensity that they have brought for the majority of the season, it will make things alot easier for the mediocre Ravens offense.