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Ravens-Dolphins: Baltimore's Keys To Victory

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 24:  Ed Reed #20 of the Baltimore Ravens returns an interception against the Buffalo Bills at M&T Bank Stadium on October 24, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Bills 37-34. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
Larry French/Getty Images
Alex BrooksCorrespondent INovember 4, 2010

The Ravens and Dolphins will face off this Sunday and the results may have a major impact on what lies ahead for each team.

Baltimore is coming off the bye week with a sense of relief, after barely pulling out a victory over the Bills in Week 7 and Miami is coming off a win over the lowly Bengals.

However, the Ravens need to show that they are not to be messed with and establish themselves as legit Super Bowl contenders after being challenged by the win-less Bills.

This game is a statement game for Harbaugh and company. In order to win they'll need to attack the weaknesses of the Dolphins. 

 

Secondary

The Ravens secondary has been a huge problem for the past couple of years and the return of Ed Reed seemed to hurt more than it helped.

Yes, Ed Reed had two interceptions in his return, but it doesn't change the fact that they were lit up by Ryan Fitzpatrick for 382 yards and four touchdowns.

Reed has a habit of going with his own flow and ignoring his assigned coverage in favor of the attempted pick, which typically leaves the deep left side of the field unoccupied. But with Reed's playmaking ability, they have to take the good with the bad. 

This week the Ravens face an even more formidable passing attack than that of the Bills, and Ed Reed will have to stay home thanks to deep threat Brandon Marshall.

With Marshall keeping the secondary on their toes, Davone Bess will try to slice through the middle and catch a few. Bess has been making himself known around the league over the last few weeks and is the X factor to the Dolphins success on offense.

If the Ravens place Webb or Carr in man coverage on Bess and keep double coverage on Marshall, they should be able to shut down the dangerous side of the passing attack.

 

Run Game

Last year, the Ravens had one of the best running attacks in the league with Rice, McGahee and McClain.

This year, even though the names have stayed the same, the effectiveness has gone straight downhill.

The run game was potent in 2009 averaging 137.5 rushing yards per game, but this year they have only averaged 114.9 per game so far, which is 12th in the league. 

Miami's defense has been strong against both the run and pass, but if Rice and McGahee can get going, the field will open up for Boldin and Mason. In order for the run to work, though, Rice needs to use his lateral speed to get to the outside and avoid formidable run-stoppers Karlos Dansby and Channing Crowder.

If the Ravens accomplish a solid running game, they will control the clock and the Dolphins won't be able to establish a flow on offense.

 

Special Teams

The special teams unit for the Ravens has been less than stellar this year, with the exception of Sam Koch, but the return of Donte Stallworth can breathe new life into the kick and punt returns. Stallworth broke his foot on a return in the preseason and has been out ever since. His return will produce instant production and give Flacco a deep threat to work with on the offensive side.

The Dolphins special teams has consisted of one player in the recent weeks and his name is Dan Carpenter.

Carpenter, who is arguably the best kicker in the NFL, has been perfect, connecting for a total of ten field goals against the Steelers and Bengals over the past two weeks.

The Ravens can afford a couple field goals, but if they let the Dolphins into Carpenter's range too often. It is apparent that he will be infallible. 

 

Verdict

The Ravens have enough talent to beat the Dolphins and just capitalizing on two of these keys should be enough to lead them to victory. Miami will come to Charm City with high hopes, but will meet defeat at the hand of the boys in purple looking to make a statement.

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