5 Things To Watch vs. Falcons


The Ravens have their only home game in a stretch of five, and they're looking to make it count.

Baltimore is coming off a 48-17 victory in Tampa Bay while the Falcons have lost three straight games and has only won one road game since Dec. 22, 2012.

Still, the Falcons have weapons. Here's what to watch Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium:

Falcons' Outside Wide ReceiversAtlanta wide receiver Julio Jones may be the best in the game right now. He leads the league in big plays (over 20 yards) with 13 such snags, and is third in the league in receiving yards (620). Jones isn't the only one to worry about, however. While he's past his prime years, wide receiver Roddy White can still be dangerous. He torched Baltimore the last time they met four years ago. It will be interesting to see whether the Ravens tie cornerback Jimmy Smith to Jones. That would be a premier matchup.

Atlanta's Diversified RunnersRavens Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees seems less worried about Atlanta's receivers as he is about their backfield. The Falcons use four running backs with regularity, led by bulldozing Steven Jackson and followed by Jacquizz Rodgers, Devonta Freeman and Antone Smith. If Baltimore can stop the Falcon's rushing attack, they'll be able to better focus on getting pressure on quarterback Matt Ryan. Watch nose tackle Brandon Williams to disrupt Atlanta's run game.

Returner Battle
Both teams have explosive returners. The Falcons' Devin Hester, who they brought over from Chicago this offseason, is averaging 12.5 yards per punt return and already has a 62-yard touchdown. Ravens Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg said they won't kick away from him. The Ravens are waiting for their Pro Bowl returner, Jacoby Jones, to break out. After fumbling in Week 5, Jones looked more comfortable last week.

Flacco vs. Ryan
They won't be throwing at each other, but this is one storyline to certainly keep an eye on. Both quarterbacks were drafted in the first round in 2008, with Ryan going at No. 3 and Flacco at No. 18. They've only squared off against each other once in the regular season and Ryan got the better end of it, leading a two-minute game-winning drive. But Flacco is hotter right now and the Ravens are on home turf. Who will win this round? Another Fast Start?
The Ravens likely won't score 28 points in the first quarter. Flacco probably won't throw five touchdown passes in 16 minutes. But Baltimore is looking to carry over the momentum from last Sunday's game. Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak says they must maintain momentum, and that consistency has been the theme of the week. If the Ravens start hot again, watch out because they may not stop. The Bucs have the last-ranked defense in the league (No. 32). The Falcons are just one spot better (No. 31).

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