Baltimore Ravens vs Miami Dolphins Week 5: 5 Key Matchups
Baltimore Ravens vs. Miami Dolphins: 5 Keys to the Game
The Ravens' Super Bowl defense have yielded mixed results thus far. After an embarrassing loss to the Denver Broncos, the Ravens rattled off two straight wins before last week's loss. There have been some promising signs, as well as some troubling ones.
The biggest surprise of the season has been the Ravens' inability to run the football, but the jobs of Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce will not get any easier this week. Meanwhile, Joe Flacco will try to rebound from the worst game of his career, but may have to do so without promising number two receiver Marlon Brown.
The hope in Baltimore is that the trade for former Jacksonville Jaguars' top 10 pick, left tackle Eugene Monroe, can light a fire under the offensive line, and create a ripple effect throughout the rest of the offense. It is a gamble, but if it works, the team will finally say goodbye to the troublesome Bryant McKinnie.
Click along to find the five keys to the game that will determine if the Ravens leave Miami winners or losers.
Alexander Diegel is a columnist for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @ItsaDiegel, "like" him on Facebook or add him to your network on google
5. Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce vs Dolphins’ Rush Defense
It is hard to believe that an offense that features a perennial pro bowler in Rice and a talented counterpart in Pierce can be ranked 28th in the rush, but that is where the Ravens stand thus far in the season. If Baltimore wants its Super Bowl defense to reach the playoffs, they will have to turn it around, and quickly.
After four lackluster games, it doesn’t get any easier against the Dolphins, who boast the league’s 10th-ranked rush defense. Joe Flacco has come up huge in big moments, but he has proven he is not a week-to-week, “put it on my shoulders” quarterback in the mold of Peyton Manning or Drew Brees. The run game must get going for this team to stay about .500.
4. Left Tackle Eugene Monroe vs Defensive End Cameron Wake
“Congratulation and welcome to the Baltimore Ravens. Now good luck stopping Cameron Wake.”
That is essentially what the Ravens have said to their newest acquisition, Eugene Monroe. Early indications are that Baltimore will throw Monroe straight into the fire and bench Bryant McKinnie, who has burnt another NFL bridge.
There is a chance that this matchup will not come to fruition. Wake has been listed as a limited-practice participant this week as he hopes to come back from a knee sprain. He is hopeful to be cleared, but it is not a lock either way.
Needless to say, is Wake is sidelined, both Flacco and Monroe will take a big sigh of relief, Wake has picked up right where he left off from his 15-sack season a year ago with 2.5 sacks in three games.
3. Left Tackle Jonathan Martin vs OLB Terrell Suggs
Lost in the Dolphins’ surprising 3-1 start to the season has been the offensive line’s inability to keep Ryan Tannehill’s jersey clean. Tannehill’s progress has been a nice story thus far. But if the Dolphins, who have allowed 19 sacks already, don’t start to protect him better, this will not have a fairy tale ending.
Martin will have his hands full with Suggs, who has been the Ravens’ most consistent player, on offense or defense this season. Suggs had a monster game last week against the Bills, and has had a sack in every game thus far.
2. Mike Wallace vs Ravens’ Secondary
It is tough to predict who will get the assignment on Wallace. For starters, top corner Lardarius Webb has been out of practice this week. It also remains to be seen who will be designated the Dolphins’ “primary” receiver, as Brian Hartline has led the team in receptions thus far.
One thing is for sure and that is Wallace is by far the more dangerous of the two players. He has been disappointed with his production thus far, but Wallace is a threat to turn the game around any time he has the ball in his hands.
As a veteran of the Steelers-Ravens rivalry, you know Wallace will want to make an impact against his old friends from Baltimore.
1. Wide Receiver Torrey Smith vs Cornerback Brent Grimes
I see your Mike Wallace and raise you Torrey Smith. Speaking of game-breaking receivers, Smith might be the only receiver in the NFL that can challenge Wallace’s pure, game-breaking speed.
Smith had a monster game last week against the Buffalo Bills, and was a shoestring tackle away from stealing a win Baltimore certainly did not deserve. The scrappy Grimes, out of Division II Shippensburg, has quickly become the Dolphins’ top cornerback after signing a one-year deal, and will draw the assignment against this speedster.
Grimes and his safety help must keep Smith in front of him at all times and let Smith’s route running, still a work in progress, defeat them. Tight end Ed Dickson popped a ball into the air that became an interception, and promising second-year man Marlon Brown could be held out of this one, so Flacco may look to Smith more than ever in this one.
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