The Ravens are feeling good after a must-have win in Miami.
But that victory would mean next to nothing if Baltimore fell this Sunday at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Despite Jacksonville's 2-11 record, they've played the AFC North tough. The young Jags crushed the Browns, 24-6, took Pittsburgh to the wire in a 17-9 loss and nearly came from behind to beat the Bengals.
The Ravens don't want to be the team that gets upset on its home soil.
"There are probably two kinds of people when it comes to preparing for a football team – that's those that look at the record, and those that look at the tape. And those that look at the tape recognize the challenge that's in store for us," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
"So, we're going to have to be at our very best to win any game in this league, and that is especially true in December and especially true against a very young, highly-motivated football team that plays extremely hard and has a lot of young talent."
Three Matchups To Watch
DC Dean Pees vs. QB Blake Bortles
Baltimore has dominated rookie quarterbacks over the years. Since 2008, the Ravens have only surrendered four touchdowns to opposing rookie throwers. Part of the reason is the Ravens do a good job of disguising their defense and making choices difficult on a young quarterback. Bortles, the third-overall pick in this year's draft, has thrown 16 interceptions to just 10 touchdowns.
OLB Elvis Dumervil vs. RT Sam Young
Dumervil is hot with eight sacks in his last four games. Now he'll be going against an offensive line that has surrendered the most sacks in the NFL this year (54). Dumervil could tee off in his hunt for the NFL's all-time single-season sack record (23). Dumervil is currently seven short. Watch for fellow outside linebacker Terrell Suggs to have a big day,too.
WR Steve Smith Sr. vs. SS Jonathan Cyprien
Cyprien may be the Jaguars' best defender. The second-year strong safety was taken one pick after Baltimore selected Matt Elam in the 2013 NFL Draft. Cyprien leads the Jags with 90 tackles this year. He's known for his big hits. Another guy known for his hits is Smith. These two could have some tussles in M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.
Three Keys To The Game
Keep A Lid On Their Young Receivers
Allen Hurns has been the Jaguars' feel-good story this year. The undrafted rookie wide receiver has caught 40 passes for 566 yards and a team-high six touchdowns. The Jaguars have a trio of young, good receivers. They also drafted USC product Marquise Lee early in the second round and Penn State's Allen Robinson later in the second round. They can all make big plays, but Hurns has proven the most explosive with an average of 14.2 yards per catch.
Get After The Quarterback
Although it's Week 15 and Bortles has 11 games under his belt, he's still a rookie. The Jags' offensive line is struggling to keep him upright, in part because Bortles admits that he's holding the ball for too long. If the Ravens' pass rush can rattle Bortles early on, it should make for a much easier day for Baltimore's defense.
Don't Let Them Hang Around
The Jaguars are having a down year, and would love nothing more than to come into M&T Bank Stadium and stun the Ravens. Baltimore needs to put them out of the game early so the Jags don't have a chance for any late-game theatrics. That means not turning the ball over and staying aggressive throughout.