Baltimore's Offense Has Another Chance
The Ravens faced the No. 32-ranked defense in the league against Oakland last week. This week, Baltimore will face the league's No. 29-ranked defense. The Redskins are giving up an average of 133 yards per game on the ground and 280.5 yards per game through the air. The Ravens spoke this week about how confident they are that the offense will turn things around after a sluggish start.
New Weapon At Running Back
Baltimore got the ground game going last week against Oakland, as Terrance West gained 113 yards as the new starter. Now the running back corps has a new weapon in the backfield. Rookie fourth-round pick Kenneth Dixon (questionable, knee) is back after missing four weeks due to a knee injury. He led the Ravens running backs in the preseason (4.9 yards per carry), and displayed quick feet and a physical style to pick up extra yardage. West said he got in a groove last week with 21 carries, but it will be interesting to see the split between he and Dixon.
Fireworks Between Steve Smith Sr., Josh Norman
Steve Smith Sr. and Josh Norman had some "intense" practice battles when they were teammates for two years in Carolina. They met on the field in 2014, but Norman was a third cornerback then and they hardly actually matched up. They'll likely see a lot of each other this Sunday, and the two smack talkers will be fired up. Norman is precisely the kind of player that Smith rants about: the young, up-and-coming talent who proclaims he's the best after a couple seasons of production. Expect Smith to remind people (including Norman) that he's 37 years old and has been doing it for 16 years.
A Shuffled Offensive Line?
Baltimore's offensive line had some trouble last Sunday against the Raiders, yielding a critical sack/strip, six quarterback hits and a lot of pressure. If rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley (doubtful, foot) sits out again, the Ravens could again have a shuffled offensive line. James Hurst could get the start, or the Ravens could bump fourth-round rookie Alex Lewis out to tackle and insert Ryan Jensen or John Urschel in at guard. Whoever starts, they need to protect Flacco better.
Containing The Big Play
The Redskins have some definite big-play weapons in the passing game. Veteran DeSean Jackson can break off a touchdown catch at any time and already has five grabs for 20 or more yards. Tight end Jordan Reed, who is pretty much just another receiver, leads the team in receptions (25) and receiving yards (263). Quarterback Kirk Cousins, who got his start against the Ravens in 2012 when he stepped in for injured Robert Griffin III, is sixth in the NFL in passing yards (1,172). Cornerback Shareece Wright and the rest of the secondary will need to be on their game.