Super Bowl: Baltimore Ravens, 5 Offensive Players Who Must Make a Difference
5 Offensive Difference Makers
I think it’s fair to say that the Ravens have never had an ‘elite’ offense during their short time as a franchise, but it seems that with Joe Flacco and Jim Caldwell at the helm that Baltimore can claim to be one of the best, in the postseason at least. There’s no question that most fans identify the Ravens defense as the calling card of the team, and rightly so, but over the past month it’s been clear that the offense has more than held up it’s side of the team bargain by managing a comeback win over the Denver Broncos as well as putting an impressive 28 points on New England Patriots in Foxboro.
In tonight’s Super Bowl matchup against the San Francisco 49ers they will face one of the game’s best defenses, lead by the leagues best linebacker in Patrick Willis. The unique challenge for the Ravens tonight will be the physicality that the 49ers bring to the table. However, I feel that this will play into the hands of the Ravens perfectly, coming from their home in the AFC North, they’re no strangers to grown man football and will be more than prepared to mix it up with the 49ers.
If the Ravens offense have learned anything from watching playoff film of the 49ers, it is that you can never take your foot off the gas because once Willis and his teammates generate a bit of momentum, they can have their way with opposing offenses for extended periods of the game.
In order to keep the momentum in Baltimore’s favor I have selected five offensive players who I feel are the most important to keeping the run of play in their favor. Here they are...
1. Vonta Leach
As with any game of football, maintaining a balanced offensive attack is key. The 49ers have perhaps the best pair of inside linebackers in the league with Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman, who have eaten up their fair share of run games this year. Leach's assignment is to establish himself on the defense's side of the line of scrimmage and blow-up one of those two backers on a few occasions to allow Ray Rice to get into the secondary. Leach has also shown in the past that he is often forgotten about in the passing game and in the red-zone, so don't be surprised if you see him leaking out into the flat to haul in a key pass or two.
2. Dennis Pitta
In the last couple of playoff games, Dennis Pitta has come up with some huge momentum catches for the Ravens. If there's a weakness in the 49er defense that has been exposed recently it's that they are lacking a little when it comes to covering tightends. I feel like Pitta is going to be a big part of the Ravens game plan, so don't be surprised if he hauls in a couple of touchdown grabs tonight.
3. Joe Flacco
This one was slightly obvious wasn't it? Of course Joe Flacco has to have a big game to give the Ravens a chance of winning. No longer does he face the questions of "eliteness", I think everyone recognizes that now, his next step is to become great. Joe doesn't need to try and do anything more than he has done in the past couple of weeks, if he brings in the level of play that he showed against both the Patriots and Broncos then Baltimore should have every opportunity to win tonight's game.
4. Marshal Yanda
Marshal Yanda doesn't like to self promote, but I can tell you now that this guys has been both metaphorically and literally at the center of everything the Ravens have done. His job tonight is pretty clear to me, get to the second level and dominate Willis and Bowman. I've already highlighted Leach as having this sort of assignment but if Yanda gets in on the act as well then Leach will be able to escort Ray Rice even further upfield and that will mean touchdowns.
5. Michael Oher
Giving Joe Flacco time to dissect the defense is going to be key for the Ravens. Even though Aldon Smith has been quite quiet on the sack front in his past five games, he's still an electric sack master and athletic phenom that is a constant threat. Everyone knows Oher has the talent and athleticism to dominate almost any rush end on his day, tonight is the night to show it!