Oh the weather outside is frightful…
The weather report from the NFL network for this Sunday’s matchup between the Ravens and Vikings, calls for a high of 34 degrees with “ice pellets”. Not rain, not snow, certainly not sunny. Ice pellets. Weather has not been friendly to the Ravens this year. Thanksgiving night was the first time in over a month that weather was not factor for them.
Ice pellets falling from the sky or not, the focus of the Ravens defense will be heavy on Adrian Peterson. The seven year veteran is the only real weapon on an offense grounded by a poor quarterback carousel in Minnesota.
Discuss this topic on our message board.
Peterson was bothered by a groin injury causing him to miss Wednesday and Thursday’s practice last week. He addressed his injury concerns by rushing for 211 yards on 35 carries versus the division rival Bears. The Bears are the worst run defense in the league allowing 153 yards per game on the ground. Even the Ravens had success there. But 37 totes (two catches) on a bum groin? I think he’ll be fine, even though he has missed practiced this week as well.
The biggest strength of Peterson’s game is the ability to get to the edge and turn up field in the blink of an eye. If the Ravens set the edge and keep AD going laterally and have a LB there to prevent him from getting downhill, it will go a long way to having success on Sunday. Terrell Suggs has been solid at setting the edge this year. His run defense has greatly improved.
A lot of folks around here have been calling for Arthur Brown to get more snaps over Josh Bynes, and rightfully so. Bynes hasn’t done much to impress in run or pass defense lately. At least, you hardly hear his name called. His PFF grades have been very average since a +1.9 mark in week 6, and he’s dipped into the negative side the last two games.
Arthur Brown, rookie second round pick out of Kansas State, has the quickness to get sideline to sideline, stamina to play as a three-down LB, and he’s a fundamental tackler. From the highlights we saw back when the Ravens drafted him, it seemed if he got a finger on you he was bringing you down. This would be the week for the Ravens to get Brown in there. His strengths are best suited to matchup with Peterson’s strengths. Meeting him at the edge and forcing him out of bounds, or slowing him down enough for other defenders to swarm in and bring him down before he can turn it up the field for big chunks of yards.
The run defense has been solid enough without Brown playing much up to this point. But a lot of that success is due to Haloti Ngata taking up two men on the front line, allowing for LBs to make plays behind him. Josh Bynes and his platoon mate Jameel McClain have been getting by, and Daryl Smith is a better coverage guy. Elvis Dumervil isn’t known for his run stopping skills, and won’t be at 100 percent if he plays as he battles an ankle injury that has sidelined him from practice this week. Peterson is the type of guy that if he gets past the first level, it could be a long day for Bynes and Smith. He could blow by some of our better run stoppers in the secondary as well.
It’ll be interesting to see how much time on the field Arthur Brown sees. He’s been healthy and played in 10 games this year, and an average 17 snaps per game. The eight snaps he played on Thanksgiving were the lowest since his six in the season opener. 29 against the Steelers in their first meeting was his season high. They have limited his snaps mostly to passing downs.
I feel like when the Ravens tried some read option with Tyrod Taylor in the Jets game, it was because they weren’t worried about digging themselves into a hole if it didn’t work. They would have never wasted possessions like that against the Patriots, or Broncos. This week should be the same mentality. Let the rookie start over Josh Bynes and see what he’s got for the best RB in the game. Give him the first half at least. If Peterson smells the rookie and looks at him as fresh meat, challenges him and beats him, make an adjustment. Eventually you have to see what the rookie can do. His attributes say this is a great matchup for him. If Peterson gets the best of the rookie, Matt Cassel still has to beat the Ravens in a road game in nasty weather.
The numbers make it tough to gauge how good Peterson will do here. He’s had 6.2 YPC against Carolina and the 2nd ranked rush defense. He’s also had just 3.8 YPC in the first meeting with the Bears 32nd ranked rush defense. The Giants and their 9th ranked rush defense held him to 2.2 YPC to earn their first win of the season in week 7. He’s rushed for over 6.0 YPC three times this year, but has also failed to reach 4.0 YPC five times on the season.
When the Ravens and their 6th ranked rushing defense win, they allow 2.8 YPC. When they lose they allow 3.1 YPC. When the temperature is less than 40 degrees like it will be Sunday, they allow 2.5 YPC.
Is 3.1 the magic number for victory Sunday? Given the weather, you would have to think he’ll get at least 25 carries. Do they have to keep Peterson under 78 rushing yards? If they do, I think Ravens fans will have nothing to worry about. I also think Arthur Brown is the best option to make that happen.