The Ravens come in off one of the most disappointing regular season losses in recent memory as they blew a seven-point fourth quarter lead at home to Charlie Batch and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The shocking loss delayed the Ravens’ opportunity to clinch a playoff spot and the AFC North because both the Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals won last week. The loss dropped the Ravens’ lead in the AFC North to two games, but the Ravens still totally control their own destiny despite last week’s dud.
However, the Ravens must first contend with a hot Redskins squad that has won three in a row.
The Redskins boast the league’s top rushing attack, ripping off 167.2 yards per game on the ground. Rookies Alfred Morris and Robert Griffin III have spearheaded the potent rushing attack as Morris is tied for third in rushing while Griffin is 21st and leads all quarterbacks.
As a matter of fact, Griffin just set the rookie rushing record last week and he now has 714 rushing yards.
More impressive, though, is Griffin’s 104.4 passer rating. That is good for third in the NFL. Griffin has been both efficient and disciplined, as his four interceptions through 12 games indicates.
RGIII has more passing touchdowns and half as many interceptions as his counterpart on Sunday, Joe Flacco.
Flacco has been the model of inconsistency this season, bouncing back and forth between 330-plus yard games and sub-190 yard games.
The good news for Flacco is that he will be facing the 31st-ranked pass defense this Sunday, so a big game could be in order for him. He played poorly last week, so his back and forth season also might indicate a strong performance.
Ray Rice has also been a bit of a disappointment thus far, although a lot of the shortcomings from the running backs can be attributed to Cam Cameron’s moronic play calling.
The Ravens have the NFL’s 23rd-ranked rushing offense, despite players like Rice and fullback Vonta Leach. Cameron’s propensity to throw, especially deep, has put the Ravens in long-yardage situations negating opportunities for Rice and Bernard Pierce.
The Redskins do have the league’s fourth-ranked run defense, so between that and Cameron’s play calling, it could be a tough day for Rice and company.
Despite the Skins’ stout run defense, their defense actually ranks worse than the Ravens overall. The Ravens have almost always been the worse ranked defense in their games this season, but they are allowing fewer yards per game and fewer points per game than the Redskins.
Thus, with both teams owning porous defenses and offenses capable of a lot of points, this game figures to be a high-scoring affair.
Throw in the fact that both teams are in the top five for turnover differential and it could be a well-executed afternoon for both teams.
On the injury front, Terrell Suggs is a game-time decision with a torn biceps. Suggs suffered the injury late in the fourth quarter last week and it is unknown if he will suit up. In a season full of injuries to the defense, he presence on defense would be huge trying to slow down the electric RGIII.
These geographic neighbors haven’t met since Week 14 of 2008, but there will be no love lost with both teams needing this game.
The Redskins appear to be the hotter team with a phenom leading them at quarterback. The Ravens were unimpressive at home against Batch last week, so nothing indicates they can slow down RGIII and the Skins’ potent offense.
The Redskins also need this game more as they need to keep up with both the New York Giants in the NFC East as well as all the teams vying for a wildcard spot.
If Flacco can have a big day against the Redskins’ brutal pass defense, the Ravens can definitely win this game, but the Redskins pass the eye test more than the Ravens right now.
With more on the line and a hotter team, look for the Redskins to win this shootout 34-27 and stay afloat in the ultra-competitive NFC playoff race.