The Ravens face the Cardinals in their home opener this season as Terrell Suggs makes his return to Baltimore. After a dominating victory against the team predicted to finish with the first pick this season, the Ravens now play at home against the team with the first pick last season. Arizona re-vamped their offense with the hire of Kliff Kingsbury, and the selection of Kyler Murray with the first overall pick. The Cardinals decided that Murray was too good to pass on and moved on from former first round pick Josh Rosen after only one season. With Rosen still on the bench so far, this may have been the right call. Regardless, the Ravens are playing at home against a team that struggled to tie against the Lions, and do not have to face Patrick Peterson. This should be a good opportunity to have another convincing victory and start the season 2-0.
Fittingly enough, Terrell Suggs returns to Baltimore as an integral part of the Cardinals’ greatest strength: their pass rush. Suggs and teammate Chandler Jones combined for 3 sacks, 3 QB hits, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 tackles for loss against the Lions. Kyler Murray had an up and down debut, but he is definitely talented enough to have the potential for a good game. Larry Fitzgerald remains Arizona’s best receiver at age 36, gaining 113 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets against the Lions.
As I’ve mentioned, losing their best player to suspension leaves the Cardinals with a hole in their secondary. The Ravens passing attack was phenomenal against the Dolphins, with Lamar Jackson and RG3 combining for 6 TDs, with only 3 incompletions and 1 sack between them. The weakness in the Cardinals’ secondary will severely hinder them. While first overall pick Kyler Murray is definitely talented, his inexperience could also be a weakness against Wink Martindale’s complicated and aggressive defense that likes to stack the line of scrimmage.
Hollywood Brown and Lamar Jackson vs Tramaine Brock and Byron Murphy: Brown was Lamar Jackson’s top receiver against the Dolphins, and the Ravens’ next opponent should have their hands full with him again. Arizona’s top two corners have a challenge ahead of them. Brock, now 31, has been unremarkable since leaving Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers. Murphy is a 2nd round rookie who will also be tasked with stopping the Ravens’ lightning-fast passing offense.
Orlando Brown vs Chandler Jones: Like last week, I don’t see any matchup that will truly give the Ravens serious trouble. Depending on how the Cardinals line up, however, Orlando Brown could have some trouble blocking an athlete like Chandler Jones. Jones has been among the NFL leaders in sacks and tackles for loss over the past few years, and him and Suggs could create some big plays for the Cardinals’ defense.
Betting Line and Prediction
The Ravens are currently 13-point favorites over the Cardinals according the Vegas Insider consensus. Again, I think that underestimates the Ravens somewhat. Their offense is red-hot, and the Cardinals secondary will struggle without its best player. Lamar Jackson has an opportunity to continue his hot start. Ravens 34, Cardinals 17.