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5 Things To Watch vs. Jaguars


The Ravens' push for the playoffs continues Sunday when the Jacksonville Jaguars visit M&T Bank Stadium.

The Ravens have won three out of their last four games to put themselves in position to control their own destiny for a playoff spot, and they need another win against Jacksonville to stay in good position in a tight AFC race.

Here are five things to watch closely in Sunday's contest:

Offensive Line Dominance

The Ravens have one of the top offensive lines in the NFL, and the group has paved the way for running back Justin Forsett to have a 1,000-yard season. Jacksonville's defense ranks 28th against the run, giving up an average of 132.8 rushing yards per game. The numbers suggest the Ravens should win the battle up front, allowing Forsett and the offense to move the ball on the ground. Forsett has topped 100 rushing yards in three of the last four games, and this could be another opportunity for him to have a big day.

Ravens Facing Former Team

Forsett will have a little something extra to play for this week going up against the team that cut him less than a year ago. He's not the only Raven flourishing in Baltimore after playing for Jacksonville. Veteran linebacker Daryl Smith has become one of the Ravens' most consistent defenders the last two seasons after spending the first nine years of his career in Jacksonville, where he's the franchise's all-time leader in tackles. Left tackle Eugene Monroe became an immediate starter after getting traded to Baltimore last year, and then signed a big contract in the offseason to be the team's left tackle for years to come.

Wide Receiver Rotation

Starting wide receiver Torrey Smith has dealt with a knee injury the last two weeks, and his status for Sunday's game is up in the air. He suited up against the Dolphins, but played just 15 snaps and didn't register a catch. The Ravens have limited his involvement in practice throughout the week, and he could be forced to miss the first game of his four-year career. If Smith is out, then the Ravens will turn to Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown, Jacoby Jones and potentially Michael Campanaro.  Aiken produced with increased reps and caught his second touchdown of the season. Brown and Jones have also come on strong in recent weeks, and Campanaro could be ready to return from a hamstring injury that's forced him to miss the last five games.

Pressure Rookie Quarterback

The Ravens defense has leaned on a ferocious pass rush this season, led by outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil's 16 sacks. The veteran pass rusher has already topped the Ravens' record for sacks in a season, and he could have a big day against rookie quarterback Blake Bortles. The Jaguars have allowed the most sacks in the NFL this year, and Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees will certainly look to make him uncomfortable in the pocket.

Flacco Staying Hot

Joe Flacco has been on a tear lately, topping a 100-quaterback rating in each of the last three games. The Ravens quarterback has thrown five touchdowns compared to one interception during that stretch, and also has a pair of rushing scores. Flacco has played his best football of the season since the bye, and has a chance to continue his recent hot streak against a defense that ranks near the bottom of the league in most categories.

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