Baltimore Ravens vs. Carolina Panthers: Five Keys To Victory

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Sep 21, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Ravens won 23-21. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Key to victory #4: Joe Flacco must step up if the running game gets shut down

Joe Flacco is not Drew Brees.  The Ravens cannot, and will not win if he throws 50+ passes.  And historically, they don’t.  But that’s OK, because he has been an effective NFL quarterback regardless.  The short passing game is going to play a role in this game if the Panthers are successful in shutting down the ground game, which is a very realistic possibility.

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Will Flacco rise to the occassion?  When the ground game is on track, he has been very effective, as we have seen the last two weeks.  Against the Bengals, when he attempted an astonishing 62 passes, Flacco only completed 56.5% of them and recorded a QB rating of 71.0, and the Ravens lost.  In week two, he completed 72.4% of his 29 attempts (109.3 rating), and in week three he completed 61.3% of 31 attempts (79.6 rating).  Both were wins.  See the pattern?

If the Ravens are going to win this game, they need to manage Flacco’s attempts.  This is a team that is trying to be more like the Saints (don’t laugh) in that they want to use the short passing game as an extension of the run game.  And that philosophy works for quite a few teams (Broncos).  But Flacco ain’t Peyton Manning.  But he will need to prove that he can win the game on the strength of his good decision making if the run game fails to deliver.