The Ravens’ offensive struggles seem miniscule compared to those of the Cowboys. The Ravens are coming off by far their worst game of the season offensively as they squeaked by the Kansas City Chiefs last week 9-6 at Arrowhead Stadium. However, the Ravens still rank eighth in the NFL in yards per game and are averaging a healthy 26 points per game despite last week’s clunker.
The Cowboys meanwhile have had to sit around and stew after the embarrassing whooping they took from the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football on October 3rd in their last game before their bye week. Tony Romo is coming off a nightmarish five-interception debacle and is now tied for the second most interceptions in the league.
The Cowboys’ offense has hit the skids big time, as the unit has fallen to 16th in the league. Aside from Romo and his turnover problems, the other big concern is the lack of a legitimate rushing attack. The rushing game ranks 30th in the league and DeMarco Murray has been rendered nearly useless scoring-wise, as he has only hit pay-dirt once in four games and hasn’t rushed for more than 44 yards in his last three games.
The good news for Murray and the Cowboys is that the Ravens were gashed for 214 rushing yards last week against the Chiefs, so there is some hope to get the running game going.
Another key match-up is to see how Joe Flacco and the Ravens deal with the Cowboys’ top-rated pass defense. Flacco is already coming off a dreadful day throwing the ball, so maybe throwing the ball 40 times this Sunday isn’t the best idea. In the last two games Flacco has been sacked eight times and has more interceptions than passing touchdowns.
Enter Ray Rice. Rice still hasn’t had a signature game this season, as his season-high for rushing is 102 yards. Rice only has one touchdown in his last four games as well, so it seems a breakout game could be in order.
An area where there is a huge advantage is the turnover department. The Ravens are a plus-6, while the Cowboys are second-worst in the league at minus-7 in the turnover differential. This bodes well for the Ravens’ secondary as the unit is well-rounded and starting to round into form as well. Lardarius Webb is blossoming into one of the top cornerbacks in football, while Ed Reed is still up to his old tricks coming up with turnovers at opportune times. If the front-seven can create more pressure on the quarterback then they have been, it could be a big day for the secondary against a panic-prone Romo.
With the Cowboys’ offense heading in the wrong direction and traveling to Baltimore, it smells like another ugly outing from Dallas. The Cowboys are trying to avoid scoring under 20 points for the fourth straight game. That hasn’t happened since Brad Johnson was quarterbacking the Cowboys in 2008, so needless to say there will be some pressure on the Cowboys to put up some points, especially when you consider the Ravens’ ability to rack up points.
Despite the Cowboys’ total defensive ranking being 20 spots better than the Ravens, the Ravens are actually allowing 4.2 less points per game.
Expect the Cowboys to continue to struggle this week despite having a bye week to prepare. Until the Cowboys show they can consistently play mistake-free football they are hard to believe in. Players like Romo and Dez Bryant are too hit or miss to put faith in, while the likes of Flacco, Rice and company are more steady and can overcome mistakes better.
The Ravens bounced back nicely from their only defeat this season, and although last game wasn’t a loss, it should serve as a bit of a wake-up call. The Ravens proved last season that they come out with a strong effort the week after they play sub-par, so fully expect a well-balanced attack. Romo should have another long day at the office, as the Ravens will take this game 27-13 and retain first place in the AFC North.