It’s not often that I cross over into the Baltimore Ravens territory here at Baltimore Sports and Life. As a matter of fact, this will be my very first foray into Ravens country here. I spend my time writing, tweeting, and talking about the Baltimore Orioles and baseball. Don’t take it as me not being a football fan, because I am, but I’m a Redskins fan and this is called Baltimore Sports and Life for a reason. However, I figured since this is such a special occasion with the Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Ravens meeting this Sunday for the first time in four years – I really wish they were required to play one game against each other every year, but oh well – I had to share my thoughts about the matchup.
Don’t worry though Ravens fans because I actually do like the Ravens, as they are my favorite team in the AFC, but don’t count on me rooting for them on Sunday.
There’s a lot at stake for the Redskins in this game, there’s a lot at stake for the Ravens too, but still nowhere near as much for them as it is the Redskins. A loss, their seventh of the season, would essentially eliminate the Redskins from contention for a NFC Wild Card spot and put a serious damper on their odds at winning the NFC East – even if the New York Giants lose to the New Orleans Saints. A loss for the Ravens, while it would still set them back, wouldn’t be a crushing blow to their playoff hopes or their chase for the AFC North crown.
So yeah, there’s a great deal more riding on this game for the Redskins and their fans than there is for the Ravens and their fans. Does that mean the ole’ Burgundy and Gold will come out swinging on offense and out-hustle and play the Ravens Sunday afternoon? Maybe, but then again – this is the Ravens we’re talking about and it’s not like them to get out-hustled or out-played by anyone. Even if Robert Griffin III is able to make the magic happen on offense and put up 30+ points on the Ravens defense (they’re averaging 31 points in winning efforts), the real question is how well will the Redskins defense hold up – more specifically a secondary that looks like a practice squad out there sometimes – against Joe Flacco and the highly talented set of receivers he has to throw to?
On the season the Redskins are averaging 26 points a game on offense, good for eighth place in the NFL, while the Ravens are right behind them with 25.3 points a game. Unfortunately, the Redskins defense is giving up an average of 25.1 points a game which means that the Ravens will most certainly get close to, if not more than, that. The Ravens on the other hand are giving up an average of around 20 points a game – a number that just six of their opponents have reached against them all season.
The one area I could see the Ravens having trouble at is stopping the Redskins highly potent rushing attack. Whether its rookie stud back Alfred Morris, who is averaging 4.8 yards a carry, when he touches the ball or against stud rookie quarterback RG3, who is averaging 6.8 yards a carry and has the ability to burn you for a huge gain on the ground on any given play, when he touches the ball.
Unfortunately, the one area I could see the Redskins having trouble with against the Ravens is stopping their passing game – especially their deep passing game. Regardless of how you feel about Flacco (I happen to think he’s a really good quarterback in the NFL), he knows how to air the ball out downfield for a big gain and I think he’ll have a few 30+ yard bombs against the Redskins handicapped secondary.
What this game will most likely come down to is the big play – who can make the big plays and who can stop them when they need to. If the Ravens and shut down the Redskins rushing attack then they’ll probably do just fine taking care of the passing game because let’s face it, the Skins’ passing game is predicated on the success of their read option running game. Without that being successful they will very likely struggle.
If the Redskins are able to force a few turnovers against the Ravens passing attack, and turn those turnovers into points, then they should be able to hang around long enough to turn this into a game of field position and time of possession. The one thing Mike Shanahan and company has been fairly efficient at this season when that’s what the game comes down to.
I won’t even bother making a prediction but instead will simply hope that the game doesn’t get out of hand on either side, that it’s something that fans of both teams are able to thoroughly enjoy, and that when it’s all said and done – the Redskins playoff hopes are still alive and well.