Jets Preview: No Hiding on National Stage

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The Ravens' Monday night matchup with the New York Jets is big, as two of the AFC's marquee teams have positioned themselves in clear view of the spotlight.

New York was the brash-talking, high-stepping Broadway performer, as players and Head Coach Rex Ryan boasted about belonging in the Super Bowl before even playing a regular-season down.  The Jets talked freely about how they built an All-Star squad with so many high-profile additions.

Baltimore took a more subdued approach, putting its collective heads down en route to the next meeting or practice, quietly signing pieces along the way.

One only has to listen to Ray Lewis' rant the other day to understand how the Ravens feel about all the bravado coming from the other sideline.

Now, a world-wide audience will see which strategy works in this clash of the titans.

"Our business ain't about, 'Oh, this person said this, and this person said this, and they added this, and they added that,'" Lewis said in his impassioned press conference last Thursday.  "We added things too, so the same pieces you all added, we added things over here.

"Monday night, the greatest gift that we've got is opportunity, because when that ref blows that whistle, I don't give a [darn] what Rex says or nobody else says. It's all out, however you want to get it, let's get it."

The fact that Lewis went off speaks volumes.

He doesn't take issue – at least publicly – with a lot of things, and is certainly careful about giving the opposition any locker-room fodder.

But No. 52 chuckled when he came off the podium. He couldn't help himself, and it just might have fired up the Ravens' locker room even more.

"I will be barking," Lewis said.  "I don't know if I'm going to be listening to too much of it. That's the beauty of my job. I get to do the barking, and I get to do the hitting."

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A few days later, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh didn't hesitate for a second when asked about his team's excitement level.  "Yes, I get that sense," he simply stated.

On paper, the Jets do have the moxie to back up their words. For a team that reached the 2009 AFC Championship to bring in Pro Bowlers in cornerback Antonio Cromartie, linebacker Jason Taylor and running back LaDainian Tomlinson, in addition to re-signing Darrelle Revis, whom many consider to be the best cornerback in football, suggests they're serious about reaching the next level this year.

But the Ravens made some moves, too.

Boldin, Houshmandzadeh, Bulger, Wilson, Redding. Maybe not the blockbuster splashes of New York's kind, but high-quality nonetheless.

Of course, a lot of this pressure contest is the relationship the head Jet has with the Ravens. Ryan spent 10 years with Baltimore, helping create the defensive juggernaut the Ravens are today and spending the 2008 campaign as Harbaugh's defensive coordinator and assistant head coach.

Ryan even admitted that there was a little extra riding on the game after Harbaugh got the coaching job he so coveted.

There is even somewhat of a big-brother scenario when it comes to Ravens/Jets, as Ryan rode a suffocating defense, a rookie quarterback and a rush-heavy attack to the conference title game, just like Harbaugh did the previous year.

"I'm sure it does mean a lot emotionally," said Harbaugh.  "Any time you play your old team, it's a meaningful thing. It was meaningful for me when we played the [Philadelphia] Eagles, so I'm sure it does."

At the end of the day, a lot of statements have been made by both teams. For the Jets, that's been the case for months.  A few Ravens just boiled over this week.

One thing is for sure, the winner of Monday's battle will end their statement with an exclamation point.

The loser might have a question mark.

Three Things For A Ravens WinProtect Joe FlaccoThere is uncertainty surrounding the right side of the Ravens' offensive line. With Jared Gaither out (back), the Ravens are depleted at right tackle, even if Oniel Cousins is fully recovered from his preseason concussion. Expect the Jets to exploit that problem by bringing pressure, which Baltimore will need to help pick up with a tight end or a running back.

Debunk Revis IslandThe Ravens don't necessarily need to avoid Revis completely, but they must not be afraid of throwing at him.   Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason are two of the game's toughest receivers, and they'll fight for the ball if Revis is covering either one of them. Revis forces teams to be one-dimensional in their passing game.  Baltimore needs to be smart when dealing with the Pro Bowl cornerback, but not afraid.

Pressure Up the MiddleThe shortest distance from the line of scrimmage to the quarterback is a straight line up the middle, and the Ravens have an opportunity to do just that with Matt Slausson starting at left guard for New York. Slausson is shaky in pass protection, and the Ravens have an opportunity to get into the backfield by rushing over him. If Haloti Ngata can knock Slausson off balance and Lewis can shoot the "A" gap, quarterback Mark Sanchez could be rattled.

2009 TALE OF THE TAPE

Ravens                          Category                           Jets

9-7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2009 Record . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9-7

Won 3. . . . . . . . . . . . Longest Streak . . . . . . . . . . . .Won 3

  1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Points Scored . . . . . . . . . . . . .348
  1. . . . . . . . . . . . Touchdowns Scored . . . . . . . . . . .37
  1. . . . . . . . Rushing Touchdowns Scored . . . . . . . .21
  1. . . . . . . . Passing Touchdowns Scored . . . . . . . .12
  1. . . . . . . . . . Touchdowns on Returns . . . . . . . . . .4
  1. . . . . . . . . . . . . Points Against . . . . . . . . . . . . .236
  1. . . . . . . . . . . Touchdowns Allowed . . . . . . . . . . .26
  1. . . . . . . . Rushing Touchdowns Allowed . . . . . . . .11
  1. . . . . . . . Passing Touchdowns Allowed . . . . . . . .8
  1. . . . . . . . . . . TDs Allowed by Return . . . . . . . . . . .7

29:18. . . . . . . . . . . Time of Posession Avg.. . . . . . . . . . .31:43

+10. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Turnover Ratio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .+1

52.6%. . . . . . . . . Red Zone TD Pct. For . . . . . . . . .49.0%

41.9%. . . . . . . . Red Zone TD Pct. Against . . . . . . .42.4%

26.2. . . . . . . . . . . . . KOR Avg. For . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.4

20.3. . . . . . . . . . . . KOR Avg. Against . . . . . . . . . . .24.1

7.4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PR Avg. For . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.1

7.6. . . . . . . . . . . . . PR Avg. Against . . . . . . . . . . . .8.8


2009 FINAL RANKINGS

Ravens

Jets

Category

Stats

Rank

Stats

Rank

Total Offense

351.2

13

321

20

Rush Offense

137.5

5

172.3

1

Pass Offense

213.7

18

148.8

31

Points/Game

24.4

9

21.8

17

Total Defense

300.5

3

252.3

1

Rush Defense

93.3

5

98.6

8

Pass Defense

207.3

8(t)

153.7

1

Points/Game

16.3

3

14.8

1

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