Ravens at Eagles -- Week 2
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia (turf, outdoors)
When: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Spread: Eagles by 2.5
Forecast: Mostly sunny, mid-70s
Records: Ravens (Overall: 1-0, AFC North: 1-0); Eagles (Overall: 1-0, NFC East: 0-0)
Past Results: Two most recent meetings -- Nov. 23, 2008: Ravens 36, Eagles 7 ; Oct. 31, 2004: Eagles 15, Ravens 10. Series record: The two teams are tied at 1-1-1.
What matters: The Ravens had four sacks against the Bengals last week, yet there were still issues with the pass rush, primarily in the first half. In addition, the Ravens allowed Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis to run for 91 yards and a touchdown. If lanes were opening up for Green-Ellis, then imagine what Eagles running back LeSean McCoy will be able to do. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees said the mistakes made last week are correctible but that Philadelphia presents a different challenge with its misdirection run game. The Ravens will need to stay discipline in their rush lanes to force Michael Vick to throw the ball. If McCoy gains ground early then it could open the play action game. For Baltimore, its success in containing Philadelphia's offense starts up front.
Who matters: Ray Rice had only 13 touches (10 rushes, three receptions) last week but averaged more than seven yards per play. He'll need to see more of the ball against Philadelphia, as Joe Flacco and the passing attack will face a much stiffer challenge against the Eagles' secondary. Winning one-on-one battles against Eagles defensive backs Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will be tough, so the Ravens will need Rice to move the chains, regardless if they remain primarily in the no-huddle this week. Philadelphia's wide-nine technique on the defensive line could open up running lanes in between the tackles and that could be an area the Ravens look to exploit.
Key matchups: Eagles DE Trent Cole vs. LT Michael Oher. In a preseason game last year, Cole beat Oher off the snap a number of times, which helped lead the Ravens to signing Bryant McKinnie to play the position. Oher's improved and won the left tackle job this year and will need to put in a top-notch performance to slow Cole down. Ravens S Ed Reed vs. QB Michael Vick. Vick threw four interceptions a week ago. The turnovers left a ton of points off the scoreboard, considering Vick threw for over 300 yards against an average Browns' secondary. Vick takes plenty of chances and there are not many better safeties at forcing quarterbacks into mistakes than Reed. If Reed can play mental games inside Vick's mind, then Baltimore will hope to capitalize on a few more Philadelphia mistakes on Sunday.
Injuries of note: DE Pernell McPhee reaggravated his knee against Cincinnati but practiced Friday. McPhee's presence rushing the passer is needed as he shared a sack with OLB Courtney Upshaw last week. OLB Paul Kruger has a back injury that caused him to miss practice on Wednesday and Thursday, but he did return to the field Friday. OL Jah Reid missed another week of practice with a calf injury and will likely miss Sunday's game. Reed has a minor hamstring injury and is expected to play.
Inside stuff: LB Dannell Ellerbe saw more snaps on the field than starting LB Jameel McClain, due to certain packages both linebackers play in. If Philadelphia spreads the field with multiple receivers, expect to see more of Ellerbe and less of McClain again this week. Ellerbe's speed aids the Ravens in coverage over the middle. Against Cincinnati, Ellerbe played 49 snaps to McClain's 31.
Connections: Ravens coach John Harbaugh coached under Andy Reid with the Eagles from 1998-2007. Harbaugh was a special teams coach from 1998-2006 before becoming the team's secondary coach in 2007. Ravens RBs coach Wilbert Montgomery holds Eagles' franchise records for career rushing yards (6,538) and attempts (1,465) and holds the single-season rushing record with 1,512 yards in 1979. G Bobbie Williams and S Sean Considine were both drafted by Philadelphia.
Stat you should know: The Ravens are 2-5 when playing Week 2 on the road. In the last two years, the Ravens lost games to Cincinnati and Tennessee, respectively, in the second week of the regular season.
Record watch: Flacco is one 300-yard game away from being in sole possession of the franchise record for having the most games with 300 yards. Vinny Testeverde and Flacco are tied with eight games with 300 yards. LB Ray Lewis is 28 yards shy of passing Derrick Brooks for most interception return yards by a linebacker in NFL history. Brooks holds the record with 530.
Looking ahead: Following their game at Philadelphia, the Ravens will return to M&T Bank Stadium to host New England on Sunday night in a rematch of last year's conference title game.
Prediction: Ravens 24, Eagles 21