With the weather conditions being less than desirable for throwing the football on Sunday in Chicago, look for Baltimore to try and establish the run early and often. While quarterback Joe Flacco has been one to not struggle as much in windy conditions in the past, his accuracy has taken a hit this season and it and it may force the Ravens to resort to the ground game more than even they are comfortable with.
The Ravens have always been a team that has predicated themselves on running the football, and seeing them struggle at doing that just has been hard to watch at times. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh wants this ground game to get going because he knows what they are capable of and he can see the frustration across the board. His star running back Ray Rice has been far from that this season.
The Ravens have said that they are going to look to the best running back carrying the football as the one who is going to see more carries. It should always be that way as performance-based rewards should be given out to those who earn them. That being said, those who follow the team know the loyalty Harbaugh has with Rice, and it has lead people to question some of his decision-making in regards to Ravens running back Bernard Pierce and how often he is on the field. However, he hasn’t gotten it done either.
That being said, today is the day where things will be different.
Rice will not have the burst, nor will he make the big plays that he was making just last year. Pierce won’t have the same success either because a change-of-pace back only is effective when there is a difference from the top product on the field. Given the struggles of the offensive line, the chances for these running backs to create big plays has been limited, but that won’t be the case today.
The Ravens will not have a lot of big plays today, much like the Bears. Both teams will have to deal with shoddy footing and an undesirable playing surface. However, Baltimore will stick to the running game so much that Rice, Pierce, Vonta Leach and Flacco will all combine for at least 150 rushing yards as a team simply because Baltimore won’t be able to light it up through the air due to the high winds.
This Chicago defense is missing five starters from their opening day lineup. While the Ravens’ offensive line is nothing to brag about, mostly every team they have faced has been able to pound the rock on the ground. If it doesn’t happen for them in this game, it will not happen for the Ravens, period.