Game Planning for the Ravens
Charles E. Sutton | 12/10/2012, 9:22 a.m.
As the Washington Redskins prepare for an all-important inter-conference game against the Baltimore Ravens, here are a few things that we know about the Ravens going into the game:
For certain, the Ravens will take a few shots deep to wide receiver Torrey Smith, a big concern for a Redskins secondary that has shown a tendency to allow big plays all season. Causing greater concern is the fact that Washington's secondary will be without cornerback Cedric Griffin due to a four-game suspension and cornerback DeAngelo Hall is fighting an injured ankle. Smith is currently fifth in the NFL in average yards per catch (17.4 yards), but the former Maryland wide receiver has only 42 catches despite being targeted 92 times.
Ravens Defense Is Not the Same
The 2002 NFL season was the only time since 1999 that the Ravens were not in the top ten in total defense. However, this season they rank 25th in total defense (372.2 yards per game), 23rd in rush defense (125.8 ypg) and 23rd in pass defense (246.5 ypg). Baltimore still has a top-10 scoring defense, giving up 20.2 per game, but injuries have really slowed what was the staple of the Ravens for many years. A defense that has been driven by its linebackers has had Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs miss significant playing time.
Penalties May Be a Major Factor
In Monday night's victory at FedEx Field, the New York Giants entered the game as the second-least penalized team in the NFL. By the time the game ended, the Giants had a season-high nine penalties for 73 yards. Whether it was dumb mistakes by the Giants, pressure from the Redskins or crowd noise, penalties played a major role in the outcome of the game. This week, it could once again be a huge factor in determining the winner as Washington and Baltimore lead the NFL in penalty yards at 826 and 816, respectively.
Which Joe Flacco Will Show Up?
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is having the most up-and-down year of any quarterback in the league. He has had a passer rating of 106.9 or better four times this season in wins over the Patriots, Bengals, Raiders and Cowboys. On the other hand, he also has had a passer rating of 66.8 or worse four times, and the Ravens loss three of those four games. The Ravens offense used to rely a great deal on the running of Ray Rice, but it seems as if they have now become a lot more reliant on Flacco.