As is always the case here at Ravens101, the day before a game we point out the key players for the Baltimore Ravens against their upcoming opponent. It is a defense heavy list this week as Baltimore prepares to take on the Chicago Bears in another must win essentially.
Although there is an argument for several players to be considered key players for the Ravens this week, we narrow it down to bring you the absolute most crucial players to the Ravens success tomorrow.
Smith is officially listed as questionable, but we believe he will be playing after returning to practice on Friday as he continues to deal with a nagging thigh injury. This week will be one of the toughest weeks of the season for Smith as he is going to have to be as fleet of foot as he has been all season because of the Bears duel threat running back Matt Forte. One of the best duel threat running backs in the game, Forte presents a wide variety of mismatches against opposing defenses, and it will be Smith's job to try and neutralize the threat.
Webb is also listed as questionable, but he too is considered likely to play and if he does he will need to play extremely well. Webb will be lined up against one of the best wide receivers in the game in Brandon Marshall. Webb received plenty of compliments from Marshall this week as Brandon basically said that Webb "dominated" him in the past and the Ravens are going to need Webb to dominate Marshall this week as well. With Jay Cutler out of this game, it is important for Baltimore to take away the Bears best offensive weapon for backup quarterback Josh McCown.
Courtney Upshaw could also be considered a part of this as the Bears have the third best offensive line in the NFL in regards to protecting the quarterback as they allow just 1.6 sacks per game (Only the Lions and Broncos allow fewer). Suggs, Dumervil and Upshaw will have to find a way to get to McCown in the pocket so that the Ravens secondary will not have to try and cover the Bears receivers as long. The shorter amount of time McCown has to throw the ball, the more successful the Ravens defense will be in this game.
The kicker makes the list this week and partially due to the fact that kicking in Soldier Field is unlike kicking anywhere else. The turf gets choppy very quickly and footing can sometimes be an issue. This is going to be a close game where one kick could make the difference and Tucker is going to have to find a way to continue his string of success despite the unfavorable kicking conditions at Soldier Field. In addition to the normally questionable turf condition, there is an 80% of rain and storms tomorrow, thus the field could be in even worse shape.
This week it became apparent that if Pierce is running the ball better than Ray Rice, that Bernard would get more carries as the 'hot hand'. With the weather the way it is predicted to be tomorrow, Baltimore is going to have to do something they have not done well all year and that is run the football effectively. Pierce is going to be a huge factor in this game because he is the run right at you, bust you in the mouth type of back for the Ravens and in games like this, those running backs are crucial.
These are our key Ravens for tomorrow's game against the Bears. Who are yours? Let your voice be heard by posting a comment!
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