The Playbook: Inside The Ravens

The Jets begin their 2010 season against a tough opponent in Baltimore on Monday night. A look at what to expect from the Ravens.

The Jets kickoff perhaps the most anticipated season in franchise history on Monday night, and the team starts their quest for the second ever Super Bowl in franchise history against a tough Ravens team.

A look at the Ravens:

When the Ravens have the ball: Like the Jets, the Ravens have plenty of options on offense. They have a very good receiving corps that includes Anquan Boldin, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Derrick Mason. Boldin will be up against CB Darrelle Revis, and CB Antonio Cromartie will be on Houshmandzadeh. In three-wide receiver packages, CB Kyle Wilson will see the field to neutralize Mason, but expect the corners to have different matchups throughout the game. In addition to his rushing contributions, former Rutgers product Ray Rice is especially effective when catching screen passes in between the linebackers. The Jets figure to have the Ravens' wide receivers locked down, though Revis expects QB Joe Flacco to test him since he's only had a week of football practice this season.

If Boldin and Houshmandzadeh get shut down, Ray Rice, a dangerous target out of the backfield, will be the go-to guy. New York will also need to account for Todd Heap, a veteran tight end with good hands. Heap may sneak out into open space on play action if New York gets aggressive. Rice and Heap will be crucial to Baltimore's offense Monday night.... Ravens' Head Coach John Harbaugh said the Jets defense has "no weaknesses," adding that that the combination of DT Kris Jenkins, ILB Bart Scott, ILB David Harris and S Jim Leonhard is "as good as a four guys down the middle as you're ever going to see."

When the Jets have the ball: According to MLB Ray Lewis, Baltimore is not at all worried about Jets QB Mark Sanchez. Thursday, Lewis told the New York media in a conference call that "controlling the running game" is the key to stopping the Jets. Obviously, Ray, obviously. New York boasts a top-tier offensive line and was the No. 1 rushing team a season ago. Lewis added that the Ravens "don't even have to guess" when Sanchez throws. "All you have to do is look at the film," he said. The ironic part about not being concerned about Sanchez is that he'll be the main target the Ravens will try to exploit.

Lewis thrives on making quarterbacks shake in their cleats, and there's no question the Raven defense will go after the second-year signal caller and try to throw him off his game. However, Baltimore might want to be careful. RB LaDainian Tomlinson and TE Dustin Keller will be an effective check-down combo similar to Baltimore's, and New York will not be afraid to go deep on a depleted secondary missing all-world S Ed Reed and dime CB Lardarius Webb. Lewis admitted that it will be up to the Ravens' front-seven to stop the Jets' offense.

The X-Factor: Rice would be an easy choice, but the Ravens' defensive line will be more important. While former Jet Alan Faneca struggled in pass protection at times, he was and still is better than Jets starting LG Matt Slauson. Pressure from Sanchez's left side, if Slauson struggles to protect, could be critical. Sanchez has a tendency to get anxious at times, and not being comfortable with his blind side protection (regardless of having one of the best left tackles in the league in D'Brickashaw Ferguson) could wreak mental havoc on Sanchez. Fortunately for the Jets, Sanchez has great feet and is good at dancing around pressure. He may be moving around all night.

Nick St. Denis covers the Jets for Follow him at

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