The Ravens are back on the road this week, as they look to rebound from last week's loss in Indianapolis.
On paper, Sunday's game against Tampa Bay (1-4) is a game that the Ravens (3-2) should win, but the Bucs have talented players that will pose a significant challenge.
Here's what to watch Sunday at Raymond James Stadium:
Tampa's Big Receivers
The Bucs offense hasn't scared too many people this year as they rank 30th in the NFL in yards per game (295.4), but they do have a pair of big receivers that create matchup problems for defenses. Vincent Jackson (6-foot-5, 230 pounds) and Mike Evans (6-5, 231) are physical receivers that pose a significant threat in the red zone. Evans' status is up in the air because of a groin injury, but Jackson figures to be a significant part of Tampa's game plan. Cornerback Jimmy Smith will likely spend much of the day covering Jackson, as the Ravens defender has the size to matchup up with him. Smith (6-2, 209) has been one of the best cornerbacks in the league this season, and he'll get tested again this week.
Establishing Ground GameA hot topic around Baltimore this week has been the offensive balance between the run and pass. Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak told reporters that the balance got "out of whack" as the Ravens fell behind and then struggled to convert on third downs to keep drives alive. Having balance between the run and pass in another road test is important for the Ravens, and they will likely look to establish the ground game early to get one of their backs into a rhythm.
Offensive Line PlayIf the Ravens are going to get that running game going, then the offensive line will need to* *clear the way up front. The line has been a strength for most of the season, but the group struggled last week against the Colts. Left tackle Eugene Monroe is expected to miss his third straight game with a knee injury, and now left guard Kelechi Osemele (knee) and center Jeremy Zuttah (ankle) have both missed practice time. The injury to Monroe was already a significant blow, and the Ravens hope that Osemele and Zuttah will be ready Sunday.
C.J. Mosley's EncoreRookie linebacker C.J. Mosley is coming off the best game of his career, and his hot start has created plenty of buzz around the NFL. Teammate Lardarius Webb even said that Mosley reminded him of future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis on Sunday. Mosley is used to the comparisons to Lewis – he's been answering questions about No. 52 since the day he was drafted – but now the already lofty expectations could be raised because of how well the first-round pick has played. Sunday's game will give Mosley a chance to build off his impressive performance against the Colts, and show that he's not caught up in the hype.
Breakout For Torrey SmithThe start of the season has been frustrating for wide receiver Torrey Smith. He stressed this week that he hasn't lost confidence, and that it's only a matter of time before he gets more involved in the offense. Head Coach John Harbaugh told reporters that it's a "focus to get Torrey going," and the Ravens could make a conscious effort early in the game to get the fourth-year receiver involved. If Smith breaks out of his slump, then that could open up several other options for a big offensive outing.