The Washington Redskins will host the Baltimore Ravens in a “Battle of the Beltway” interconference matchup on December 9th. Kickoff is scheduled for 1pm. Washington is coming off their most important victory to date in the 2012 NFL season, a 17-16 Week 13 victory over the New York Giants. The victory brought Washington’s record to 6-6, within a game of the NFC East leading Giants.
Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III had a very pedestrian game, passing for only 163 yards. However, the one touchdown pass he threw to wide receiver Pierre Garcon early in the fourth quarter was the game winner. Washington’s defense allowed New York’s offense almost 400 yards in total offense. However, the Redskins thwarted the comeback attempt of Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning by shutting out the high powered New York offense in the fourth quarter.
Baltimore is coming off a 23-20 Week 13 home defeat to their division rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens’ rushing attack gained 111 yards against the usually immovable Steelers’ rushing defense. Baltimore running back Ray Rice gained 76 yards and a touchdown against Pittsburgh, as the Ravens carried a seven point lead into the fourth quarter.
Steelers’ quarterback Charlie Batch was undaunted by the deficit. The 37 year old Batch, filling in for injured starter Ben Roethlisberger, rallied Pittsburgh to the final 10 points of the game. Steelers’ placekicker Shaun Suisham, a former Redskin, kicked a 42 yard field goal as time expired to secure the victory for Pittsburgh.
As tough as the Steelers’ loss was to the Ravens, they can’t dwell on it for too long. Baltimore may have to face a resurgent Redskins’ team without two of their best defensive players. Future Hall of Fame Ravens’ linebacker Ray Lewis was able to return to practice December 5th after missing six games with a torn right triceps muscle. However, he will be ineligible to play against Washington, eyeing a return December 16th against the Denver Broncos. Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs tore his right triceps muscle in the Week 13 loss to the Steelers. While he was able to practice, his availability against Washington will be a game time decision.
The Baltimore offense contains a great featured running back in Rice. He displayed his ability Week 12 against the San Diego Chargers with a remarkable 29 yard catch and run on fourth and 29 to earn a first down to retain possession. That gave Ravens’ kicker Justin Tucker the chance to successfully kick a game tying 38 yard field goal. Baltimore won the game in overtime on Tucker’s second 38 yard field goal of the contest.
Prediction: The Washington defense has played better in recent weeks. They will face a Ravens’ quarterback in Joe Flacco who is solid, but not among the league’s elite. Plus, they are riding the momentum of the Giants’ game, when they contained Manning when it counted. In addition, Washington is facing an ordinary Ravens’ defense ranked 23rd against the rush. The prospect of facing a Baltimore defense without Lewis and Suggs has to fill Griffin III and the Redskins’ offense with confidence.
Washington will have to face the Ravens’ ball hawking future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed. The Redskins have been efficient in protecting the ball, evidenced by their plus 11 turnover differential. If they can continue to move the ball efficiently with running back Alfred Morris, as well as limit turnovers, then the Redskins have the opportunity to earn their fourth consecutive victory on their home field.
Final score: Redskins 24, Ravens 20.