The Ravens have a tough task ahead of them on Monday Night Football against the 4-2 Arizona Cardinals.
Here are five things to watch in the Ravens' first trip to University of Phoenix Stadium:* *
Cardinals' Dangerous Passing Attack
The Cardinals are a deep-threat passing team. They have size and experience with top wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and flat-out speed with John Brown. The Cardinals have the league's fourth best offense and ranked second in the league in completions of 20 yards or more (27) heading into Week 7. Meanwhile, Baltimore has been particularly susceptible to the big play and could be without safety Kendrick Lewis. Whoever is on the field needs to keep the ball in front of them instead of over them.
Don't Throw It To Their Guys
Quarterback Joe Flacco has struggled with interceptions this year and the Cardinals have some defensive backs that don't drop too many that come their way. Cornerback Patrick Peterson is one of the best in the business and has two interceptions. Safety Tyrann Mathieu is known for his playmaking and also has two picks. The Cardinals are led in interceptions by safety Rashad Johnson, who already has three picks. Flacco has only one game so far (Cleveland) in which he hasn't thrown an interception and tossed two last week in San Francisco.* *
The Other Wide Receivers
Speaking of Peterson, he and Ravens widout Steve Smith Sr. should be locked up in an intense battle. It's almost impossible to shut out Smith, but if he's handcuffed by the Pro Bowler Peterson, other Ravens receivers are going to have to step up. Kamar Aiken has been Flacco's other safety blanket, but Jeremy Ross and speedster Chris Givens started to emerge last week and could get longer looks in Arizona. If the Ravens can find more targets at wide receiver, it will open up the running game.* *
The Ravens have been the slowest starting team in the NFL, and they can't afford to play from behind against a dangerous Arizona offense. The Ravens are one of just two teams that have yet to score any points on an opening drive this season (Jacksonville is the other). Baltimore has five punts and one fumble. The Ravens work on starting fast every single practice. They need to transfer that to games.* *
Monday Night Football Stage
The Ravens are 1-0 on primetime television this year, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football. Can the Monday Night Football stage provide a shot in the arm of the Ravens' difficult start to the season? Multiple Ravens players said this week that there's motivation to play your best when the nation's eyes are upon them. Baltimore wants to prove that it's a better team than people have seen thus far this season. Running back Justin Forsett has gone over 100 rushing yards in all four of his Ravens primetime games.