View Full Version : Baltimore vs Miami Wild Card Preview

01-01-2009, 07:45 PM
Sunday Jan. 4th 2009 1:00pm EST Dolphin Stadium Weather its Miami!

(#6) Baltimore Ravens vs (#3 AFC East Champs) Miami Dolphins

Yet another Wild Card game in which both teams are closely matched, one team does not jump off the paper at you, neither turn the ball over (BAL +13 turnover ratio, MIA +17), and again the road team is favored (Baltimore by 3). Both teams feature 1st year head coaches, 11-5 records, and a just get it done attitude. The Dolphins turn around from 1-15 to AFC East Champs as well is either the number one or two story line of the season depending on who you talk to made even better after a division clinching win against the Jets lead by the NFL comeback player of the year and former Jet QB Chad Pennington. Baltimore is lead by rookie QB Joe Flacco and again is headlined by its defense which never seems to skip a beat. So the question is does the Dolphins story book season continue or will Baltimore's defense again propel the Ravens forward?

When Miami Has the Ball:
The Wild-Cat has been all the rage this year and played a key role in the turnaround of the Dolphins offense. Not only has it enabled both Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown to be productive (1,575 combined yards and 4.2 yds/att), eliminate some of the pressure on Chad Pennington (only 7 INT's); it has enabled the Dolphins to get Ted Ginn involved while spreading the ball around as well. (Miami offense averaging 345.6 yds/g 12th in the NFL and 21.6 pts/g). It will not surprise Baltimore as they have seen it and were able to keep it under wraps in their week seven win. Miami was still able to move the ball but was not able to find the game breaking play. Baltimore allows just 81.4 yds/g on the ground (3rd in the NFL) and are even better at defending the pass 179.7 yds/g (2nd). The Dolphins don't rely on the pass or the rush, they feature a balanced offense which should help against the Ravens D. I am also sure that head coach Tony Sparano is going to throw in a few new wrinkles in an effort to create a few big plays for his offense. I expect Baltimore to load the box and focus in on the run/wild-cat. Which is why I think it is important for Ronnie Brown to produce yards out of base formations to open it up for the rest of the play book and give Pennington some play action options.

Advantage has to go to the Ravens defense. You can not overlook the numbers as they are 3rd or better in every defensive category and they know that they are the heart beat of the team.

When Baltimore Has the Ball:
These offenses are very similar. Rookie QB Joe Flacco has completed 60% of his passes with 14 TD's and 12 INT's on the season matriculating the offense down the field. He is complimented by the 4th best rushing offense in the league at 148.5 yds/g. Lead by bowling ball Le'Ron McClain (902 yards), Willis McGahee (671 yards), and Ray Rice (454 yards). Baltimore wants to pound the ball and Miami is going to load the box. Baltimore could take advantage of the loaded box if Miami fails to pressure Flacco early and Joe is able to find his favorite target wide-out Derrick Mason (81 rec, 1,037 yds, 5 TD's), thats 39 more receptions then the second leadign reciver Mark Clayton (41). The Dolphins pass defense is suspect at 25th in the league allowing 227.8 yds/g. If Joe is able to get somethings going early it could send the Dolphins into a tail spin as McClain and McGahee would then find a few lanes to churn through. Joey Porter needs to be heard from early as the Ravens are known for their defense, have a rookie QB, but still are putting up 24.1 pts/g good for 11th in the NFL.

Advantage Ravens O. It might surprise some but Baltimore matches up well with the Dolphins defense and they have shown flashes that if you give them a little bit of ground that is just enough for them to score and hand it to the defense.

Game Changers:
Ed Reed (S) #20 BAL
It was Terrell Suggs with his 44 yard INT returned for a TD that swung the momentum in week seven and this weekend Reed will look to do just the same. He will be patrolling center field keeping an eye out for the trick pass plays out of the various formations the Dolphins will show and will attack the ball carriers looking to strip the ball. A pick a forced fumble Ed Reed has the ability to swing the momentum in the Ravens favor and provide a crushing blow to the Dolphins hopes.

Ronnie Brown (RB) #23 MIA
Like I said earlier the Dolphins need more out of Brown then just yards out of the wild-cat. With the Ravens looking to stop the run it will be big if he can pound out yards up the middle in an effort to soften up the Ravens D some (if that is possible) and open up the rest of the offense. Brown has had a solid season but it is time for him to step up, assert himself on the ground, have a breakout game, and show that the ACL injury is behind him. A big game from Ronnie Brown is critical to the Dolphins, lets see if he steps up to the plate!

As much as it looks like the Ravens are set up for the victory, road teams are all favored, I just feel that the Dolphins will find a way to win this. A lot rides on if the Dolphins offense is able to bust off a couple big plays and if they find the end zone on one, pressure on Joe Flacco. I look for it to be a low scoring game, all points important, Matt Stover and Dan Carpenter are sure to see their fair share of looks.

BAL 13 MIA 20

Medford Bronco
01-02-2009, 12:41 PM
Good analysis broncoav but I dont see Miami beating Baltmore and that D.

I like them to win 23-14ish

01-04-2009, 04:26 PM
BAL 27 MIA 9

Rapid Reaction:
Ravens defense was the story of this game, hasseled the Dolphins offense all day, forcing big turnovers and swinging the momentum when ever the Dolphins started to gain any ground. 4 INT and 1 FF. Flacco did just enough finding Mason for 4 rec out of his 9 completions for 71 yards and handing it off the McClain (75 yds, 1 TD) and McGahee (62yds) as the offense just tried to keep it simple and not give anything back to Miami.

Game Changers:
Ed Reed
Played the part well I must say. Had the early back breaker with a 55yd INT return for a TD as the Ravens defense put a hault on the Miami run game forcing Pennington to look down field. Reed also came up with another interception later in the game. Manning center field Reed made is pressence felt early and Kerry Collins should be hoping the Chris Johnson and L. White can get the ground game going next week so he does not have to put the ball up around Ed Reed.

Ronnie Brown
They tied to get Brown going from base formations early, no luck, wild cat look, no luck, Dolphins were forced out of their comfort zone early. Brown could not get away from the Ravens front seven. Thus Chad Pennington was forced to have to move the offense through the air and that resulted in 4 INT's. Brown finished the game with 12 car, 19yds and 1 TD rec. As a team the Dolphins had a whopping 52 yards rushing.