Jaguars vs. Ravens Game Preview: Ravens Focus On Finishing


The regular season is less than three weeks away and the Ravens starters have one last dress rehearsal before that Monday Night Football opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Thursday's preseason contest against Jacksonville at M&T Bank Stadium will be the last real test before the regular season, as the starters are expected to play about three quarters. Starters typically only play about a series in the final preseason game.

"We're kind of trained to maybe look at it like a dress rehearsal, and we want to go out there and let it all go and be successful," quarterback Joe Flacco said.

The first two preseason games have been up-and-down for the Ravens first teamers. The offense moved the ball last week against Detroit, but wasn't able to put the ball in the end zone. Finishing those drives has been a point of emphasis throughout the week.

"The biggest thing I can look at in the last couple games, especially last game, is just finishing off drives – getting down in the red zone and putting touchdowns on the board," Flacco said when asked where he wants to improve.

Jacksonville's defense ranked sixth-best in the NFL last season and gave the Ravens fits in a 12-7 loss in Week 7 last year. That loss to the Jaguars was arguably the worst game the Ravens played last year, but Flacco said that they aren't looking at this preseason contest as a chance at redemption.

"I don't think we're looking at it that way," Flacco said. "I think we're looking at it as a good test for us and just another opportunity for us to go out there and work on what we've been working on all training camp."

3 Matchups To Watch

WR Blackmon vs. CB Williams
The Ravens struggled with stopping big wide receivers in the first two preseason contests, as Julio Jones and Calvin Johnson both had more than 100 yards receiving. The first-round pick Blackmon is another big-bodied receiver and he is off to a solid start this preseason. Cary Williams will likely match up against Blackmon and have a chance to put forth a good showing to hold onto his starting job.

DE Mincey vs. LT Oher
If Michael Oher gets the start at left tackle again, he will likely face off with Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey. Oher has played well in the first two preseason games and he will get a solid test with Mincey, who has 1.5 sacks so far this preseason.

TE Lewis vs. S Pollard
Veteran safety Bernard Pollard has only played a few series so far this preseason, but he should get more extensive work this week and will likely have to cover Jacksonville's talented tight end Marcedes Lewis. This will give Pollard a chance to work on his coverage skills against a talented target.

3 Questions

Does the offensive line continue to improve?
The offensive line played much better in the second preseason game and a number of the linemen said that the group was starting to gel. The coaches are still trying to determine the starting lineup, and this will be a good chance to see how the first teamers perform over the course of almost an entire game.

Will the Ravens come out healthy?
A top priority of the preseason is to come out of those games with the health of the team still intact. The Ravens already lost defensive linemen Ryan McBean to a broken ankle in the preseason opener. With the starters expected to play about three quarters, the hope is that they are able to make it out healthy and ready for the regular-season opener on Sept. 10. 

Does Blaine Gabbert stay hot?
Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert is off to a hot start this preseason in his second year as a starter, completing 18 of 26 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns. Gabbert struggled last year, but he has looked good in the preseason and will now have his biggest test of the preseason going up against the Ravens defense.

2011 Rankings

Total Defense - 288.9 (3)
Rush Defense - 92.6 (2)
Pass Defense - 196.3 (4)
Points Allowed Per Game - 16.6 (3)

Total Offense - 338.7 (15)
Rush Offense - 124.8 (10)
Pass Offense - 213.9 (19)
Points Scored Per Game - 23.6 (12)

Total Defense – 313.0 (6)
Rush Defense – 104.2 (9)
Pass Defense – 208.8 (8)
Points Allowed Per Game – 20.6 (11)

Total Offense – 259.3 (32)
Rush Offense – 123.1 (12)
Pass Offense – 12.5 (28)
Points Scored Per Game – 15.2 (28t)

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