Another Battle In The Trenches
The Ravens' Week 11 game against the Dallas Cowboys was billed as a battle of the trenches between Baltimore's top-ranked run defense and the NFL's leading rusher, Ezekiel Elliott. It didn't pan out exactly that way, however, as the Ravens kept Elliott under 100 yards but still lost the game when quarterback Dak Prescott threw three touchdowns. This week's game against the Miami Dolphins is getting the same billing as Miami running back Jay Ajayi leads the league with 5.3 yards per carry. As it does every week, the Baltimore defense will strive to make the Dolphins one-dimensional. Miami doesn't have as stout an offensive line as Dallas, but Ajayi is a "special" running back, according to outside linebacker Terrell Suggs.* *
Can Ravens Force Tannehill Into Mistakes?
If the game goes on the shoulders of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the Ravens want to put enough pressure on him to force mistakes. Tannehill has had a strong run during Miami's six-game winning streak mostly because he hasn't turned the ball over. He's thrown nine touchdowns to just one interception during that span. Tannehill has played three games against the Ravens in his five-year career. He hasn't thrown a pick to them yet, but he's been sacked a whopping 13 times.* *
Who Wins On Third Down?
Sunday will feature the NFL's top two defenses on third down. The Ravens rank No. 2, allowing opponents to convert on 33.6 percent of their opportunities. The Dolphins are No. 1, allowing a 33.3 percent conversion rate. With that in mind, both offenses will likely have a tough time staying on the field for long stretches, so a big play here or there could be the difference for each offense. Quarterback Joe Flacco stressed being more aggressive this week and he has the threats outside with receivers Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman and Steve Smith Sr.* *
Containing Miami's Front Seven
The Ravens defense is particularly strong up front, but the Dolphins are no slouches either. Baltimore's shaken-up offensive line will have a great test with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (five sacks) coming up the middle and veteran pass rusher Cameron Wake (8.5 sacks) bursting off the edge. Veteran Andre Branch (4.5 sacks) can also be a problem. Flacco has been sacked just five times over the past three games, which has helped the offense move the ball better in recent weeks.* *
Cold Temps, Loud Crowd Could Make A Difference
The weather in Miami has been in the mid-70s all week. On Sunday, the Dolphins will be facing temperatures in the mid-40s. That's a big difference and one that could play into the Ravens' advantage. As running back Terrance West said this week, defenders don't like to hit as much when it's cold, and the Ravens are more accustomed to cooler temperatures than the Dolphins. Baltimore also has home-field advantage and will need as much crowd noise as possible to notch its fourth straight win at M&T Bank Stadium.