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Stillers-Ravens Div. Playoff Preview

January 13, 2011 by Still Mill

Ravens Div Playoff preview
Stillers-Ravens Div. Playoff Preview

No surprise here...the playoffs going thru the hated WoodPeckers, at Heinz Field.��


Keys for this game:


Keys when the Stillers have the ball:


- Somehow keep Haloti Ngata out of the backfield on ground plays.�� This guy has FEASTED on the Stillers the past 3 seasons.He�s just ravaged and eaten us alive.�� At this point, I would highly consider, at a minimum, simply having Pouncey personally block Ngata on each and every play, as neither Kemo nor Foster can be trusted by himself.�� Of course, on some plays, Pouncey will need a chip block from a guard or a FB/WB.To me, you just cannot allow Ngata to roam and pillage freely into the backfield on 50% of all ground plays as he has in recent matchups.

- Contain Suggs.��� This man is a disruptive animal and is quite capable of wreaking havoc on every pass play.Quite obviously, Jon Scott desperately will need help to protect Ben�s blindside.�� Due to the injury of Starks, the Stillers have a bizarre, modern-day paradox where their far-less capable tackle is protecting the blind side.�� I thought Adams could have been looked to move back over to the LT spot once Starks was shelved for the season, but for no apparent reason that was never even explored.��


- Get Ward more involved.�� In 2 games vs. the Poebirds this season, Ward has all of 27 yards receiving.�� He�s trusty, experienced, reliable, and clutch.�� He doesn�t need to catch 9 passes, but more than 2 would be advisable.

- Have someone other than Heath Miller pass-block in the backfield. There is a vast array of choices here.�� Rashard Mendenhall.�� Mewelde Moore.�� Isaac Redman.�� David Johnson.Doug Legursky.�� I want our quick, athletic, tall, big, strong, sure-handed fellow named Miller out in pass patterns and moving the chains, not doing the equivalent of janitorial work back in the pocket.�� Plus, on valve dumpoffs, all 3 RBs are better RAC runners that close to the line of scrimmage, than is Miller.



Keys when the Ravens have the ball:


- Contain Ray Rice.�� A terrific grass RB, Rice has the uncanny knack of being able to stop, cut, and accelerate on poor-footing grass fields, while defenders are often slipping and sliding.He showed this in spades last week at Arrowhead.Rice also presents the kind of RB that gives the Stiller D some problems; that of a cutback runner who reads and is patient.Rice is also extremely dangerous out of the backfield, both on valve dumps as well as designed outs, ins, and flares.Out of the backfield, he is a mis-match nightmare against Farrior and Woodley (although Woodley rarely is in coverage).Rice cannot and will not be tackled high, and the DBs with that sort of penchant will be wise to adjust and get low.��


���� Unless a freak 65-yard run occurs, Rice won�t get 100 yards on the ground, but if he can get 75 and chew clock and yardage, the Ravens will be quite pleased.�� It�s in the passing game where Rice strikes the most concern, as he is more than capable of being dangerous on 3rd downs and checkdown passes.�� A comfy security blanket for QB Joe Jacco, Rice absolutely must be a target of surveillance on each and every play.The one extreme mismatch that the Baltimore offense has in its favor is Rice in single coverage by Potboy Farrior.You would think Balt will be eager to exploit this mismatch and it will be up to The Great Dick LeBeau to ensure it happens as little as possible.Lastly, any time Willis McGahee enters the game to spell Rice, this is a small �win� for the Stillers, as McGahee does not possess the elusiveness and cutback skills of Rice.


- Derrick �Stiller Killer� Mason.For whatever reason, Mason usually saves his best for the Stillers, dating way back to his Titan (and even Oiler !) days.Now in his 14th season, Mason obviously isn�t a deep threat, although he never really was.Mason�s best asset is similar to Ward�s -- a crafty brand of guile, toughness, and reliability.�� The Ravens still very much enjoy sending Mason deep a couple times per game, typically on stop n� go or chair routes against unsuspecting CBs.The fact that Mason has constantly made one clutch catch after another in at least 25 games against the Stillers, leaves me awake at night.He can and should be smothered with press coverage.


- Michael Ohrer�s fast kickback.In Ravens1, Ohrer got away with bloody murder, never once getting called for a single false start despite numerous times kicking his left leg/foot back a millisecond before the snap in order to beat James Harrison to the corner.In Ravens2 -- presumably after prompting from the Stillers -- the refs flagged Ohrer for 2 false starts, and voila -- he quickly stopped his blatant cheating.�� How tight, or lax, the refs are on Ohrer will go a long way to determining what kind of heat Harrison is able to bring.


- The 2 �Tight Ends�.�� We all know about Todd Heap, and you saw him ravage the KC secondary last week.The other �tight end� that concerns me is Anquan Boldin, who isn�t officially a TE, but might as well be with his size and strength.You saw what Pats rookie TE Rob Gronkowski did to Will Gay, and come Saturday, Gay is probably going to be tasked to cover 1 of these TEs.�� And then you have Taunto Farrior, who, at this downward-arcing point of his career, can�t be trusted to cover a blocking FB, much less Todd Heap.


- Get something out of LaMarr Woodley.�� By something, I mean ANYTHING even semi productive.�� This is a guy that has resembled a 55-gallon drum on most plays this season, doing little, disrupting little, and adding little.You know the Ravens will be terrified about The Human Fumbling Machine, Joe Jacco, getting stripped by Harrison and any other blitzers (Pola, Timmons, et al) on the back (blind) side, so they will be sure to slant protection to their left.�� Thus, Big LaMarr is guaranteed SOLO blocking on at least 98% of all pass plays.�� He should be able to do something against Ravens RT Marshal Yanda, but Big LaMarr has mostly done nothing against every tackle he�s titty-jousted with this season. It�s gotten to the point that with LaMarr�s overt lethargy from the LOLB spot, the Stillers would be better served using him as a rush DE or even a rush NT, and using Worilds as a designated speed rusher from the LOLB spot.


- Attack and pressure Joe Jacco.��� In Ravens2, Jacco was given EONS of time early on, and engineered a casual, 92-yard cakewalk while facing no more pressure than a librarian in a rural library.�� Finally, the Stiller defenders had to beg and plead with Coach Dick, who finally relented and dialed up the pressure.�� Voila -- Jacco, true to his nature, got flustered, inaccurate, and later in the game, ultimately was stripped of the ball.��

����� What we don�t know, is if LeBeau, the fossil, learned anything from that game, or if he�s going to go back to this pussyfied, Softee Defense.Jacco MUST be pressured�� He�s well prone to choking and getting flustered under pressure.�� More importantly, he�s a human fumbling machine, capable of being stripped faster than a Vegas whore.�� Lastly, because he�s clumsy and slow afoot, he�s the perfect guy to pressure, because unlike a Vick, a BenRoth, or an Elway, he�s not going to burn you with his feet.


- Apply press coverage to the slow corps of WRs.�� The Ravens possess a fairly slow group of WRs.�� TJ Housemanad may be the fastest, and his prime was probably 4 years ago.Neither Mason nor Bolquin have speed to burn.�� This is an ideal corps of WRs to play press coverage against.


Spec teams.����� The Stiller coverage teams started to leak badly the final quarter of the season, with a low point being the game-opening KO return for a TD versus the NYJ.�� The coverage tightened up considerably in the final 2 games, although both opponents were uninspired and disinterested.


������� Of related importance is the effectiveness of Sean Suisham�s squib kicks.�� He was tremendous versus Clev in the season finale.It will be interesting if the staff decides to mix in a few squibs, or even go exclusively squib, versus the RatBirds.



Summary:�� This is a game, at home, that the Stillers should win, and frankly, should dominate against a mediocre Ravens team.The Stillers have a vastly superior QB, are playing at home, and have had 2 weeks of rest while the Ravens have had only 6 days.�� Those 3 factors are unbelievable huge come playoff time.The PoeBird�s win last week over a young, mediocre KC team was hardly impressive.��


���� That said, the Stillers have an amazing propensity of playing the PoeBirds too close to the vest and too content to �keep it close�.�� I expect another nailbiter, and with the odds overwhelmingly in favor of another 3-point game, I wouldn�t touch betting on this game with a 10-foot pole.



(Still Mill and -- when it comes to the analysis of the Pittsburgh Stillers, no one else comes close�.)



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