Sunday's game in Miami could be an elimination game for both teams.
With the Ravens and Dolphins both at 7-5 in a thick AFC playoff race, each one badly needs a victory and the tiebreaker that comes with being ahead of the other team.
The Dolphins will be a challenging matchup, however.
Here are five things to watch in South Florida:* *
Defense Without Ngata
The Ravens lost one of their defensive leaders for the remainder of the regular season as defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was suspended for four games. Baltimore will lean on rookie second-round pick Timmy Jernigan to step up, along with defensive end DeAngelo Tyson and defensive tackle Terrence Cody. Can they fill the void well enough? The Ravens had been doing an excellent job stopping the run before Ngata was suspended, ranking fourth in the league (86.3 yard per game).
The Ravens secondary has been gashed the past two weeks by the Saints' Drew Brees and Chargers' Philip Rivers. It doesn't have to dominate, but the secondary can't give up as much as it has in recent weeks. Can it rebound against Miami's Ryan Tannehill? Tannehill hasn't thrown for more than 300 yards yet this season, but he's completed at least 70 percent of his passes the past five games, the third-longest streak in the NFL over the past decade.
Ravens Can Run On Dolphins
The Dolphins have allowed more than 200 yards rushing in each of their past two games. Miami gave up 167 yards rushing to the Broncos' C.J. Anderson and watched Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory rumble for 167 yards on the ground for the Jets. The Jets ran for 277 yards overall. The odd part is that the Dolphins were one of the league's best run defenses before the two-game spurt. Justin Forsett has run for more than 100 yards in three straight games, and will look to do it a fourth time.
Adjustment To Spread-Option Offense
Miami runs a unique college-like spread-option offense. It's quick-paced with short passes. The Dolphins get a lot of their yardage on running after the catch. Baltimore's defense hasn't played a game against a team running that style of offense since the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII. They did practice against the 49ers in training camp, however. The Ravens need to make sure they tackle well and throw off the timing of Miami's offense.
Offense In Red Zone
The Ravens kicked four field goals from under 35 yards last Sunday against the Chargers. They're moving the ball well, but haven't scored as many touchdowns as they would like once reaching the red zone. Baltimore ranks 21st in red-zone touchdown efficiency. The Ravens offense may need to carry the load with the secondary struggling recently. That means scoring touchdowns instead of field goals.
In week 5 of the 2013 NFL season the Baltimore Ravens travel to Sun Life Stadium to take on the Miami Dolphins.