Redskins host Ravens
Sunday – 12/9/12
This Sunday the DMV area is in for a treat as the Baltimore Ravens cross the beltway to battle the Washington Redskins. At 1:00pm these two teams will kickoff for just the third time ever. Baltimore leads the all-time series to a tune of 2-0. The last time the Ravens and Skins squared off was in 2008, which saw Baltimore win 24-10.
Baltimore had a tough go at it against the Steelers last week ending their 16 home game winning streak. The Ravens are still in the lead to win the AFC North by two games and can clinch a playoff spot with a win. Baltimore can also clinch the division title with a win and losses by both the Steelers and the Bengals. This week might be even tougher as Terrell Suggs is a game time decision after tearing his bicep last week.
The Redskins enter Sunday riding a three game winning streak with those victories coming against each of the other teams in the NFC East. After a victory over the Giants this past Monday, the Skins sit just one game back of the NFC East. RGIII is playing his best football of the season and will be facing a struggling and hobbled Ravens defense this Sunday.
To break down the key aspects of this week’s Battle of the Beltway we are going to do a back and forth Q&A session. Our Ravens blogger Cory Grubbs will be writing for the Ravens and site creator and editor Trevor Jackson will be writing for the Skins.
So let’s jump right into this and get to the thick of things:
What are each team’s keys on offense to win this game?
Cory: The Ravens need to establish the run early against the Skins so it will set up the passing game. If they can get Ray Rice rolling look for some downfield looks to open up. I could easily see Deangelo Hall biting on a double move from Torrey Smith that leads to a 60-yard touchdown. The Skins let up 299 passing yards a game and the Ravens need to exploit that.
Trevor: The Skins need to keep their own defense on the sidelines by establishing long, clock controlling drives. As Cory mentioned above, Baltimore wants a shot at this secondary and keeping their offense on the sideline as long as possible is the best defense Washington will have. The Ravens defense is banged up with no Ray Lewis, no Terrell Suggs, and injuries to their secondary. I know most teams try to establish the run to open up the pass, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kyle Shanahan and RGIII come out firing in the 1st quarter and open things up with the pass, and then go to the workhorse Alfred Morris to sustain drives.
What are each team’s keys on defense to win this game?
Trevor: Again, I think Washington’s best defense right now is their offense. With that being said, teams have been able to attack this defense by the air with more success than they have by running the ball. That isn’t to say Ray Rice won’t have a field day, because he can put up 125 on you any day of the week. The good news for Skins fans is while Washington’s defense is still giving up big plays in the passing games, they are stopping teams from racking up TDs as of late. Slow the run early, get some Ryan Kerrigan pressure on Joe Flacco, and get the offense back on the field as soon as possible will be the keys.
Cory: Defenses in the NFL still don’t have a good answer to slow down RGIII on a consistent basis, and this hobbled Ravens defense is going to have a tough go at it on Sunday. RGIII keeps you honest with his ability to run for 50 yard strikes at any moment. He can even pitch it (fumble it) at any moment and score touchdowns that way. But this Skins offense is first in the NFL rushing averaging 167 yards a game. Baltimore is 23rd in rushing defense letting up 125 yards a game. The Ravens NEED to stop the run if they want to punch their tickets to the playoffs on Sunday.
Which QB is going to shine brightest in the Battle of the Beltway?
Cory: As good as RGIII has been in his first season in the NFL, I think the veteran QB is going to prevail and shrine the brightest on Sunday. Flacco is coming off a terrible home performance against the Steelers last week and will be looking to rebound against this porous pass defense of the Skins. Washington has allowed the second most passing yards this year in the NFL and I see Flacco taking advantage of this. You have to go all the way back to the 2009 season for the last time the Ravens lost back to back games. Flacco will make sure they don’t lose back to backs this week.
Trevor: Man, in a way I kind of feel bad for you on this question. It must have really hurt to have to type out Joe Flacco instead of ROBERT. GRIFFIN. THE THIRD. My answer to this question is pretty much the same response as this guy: R – G – 3. Even removing the rushing impact Griffin will have on the game, I think he is going to put up better passing numbers than Flacco as well. He is ahead of Flacco in passer rating, completion percentage, touchdowns, yards per attempt, and pretty much every passing category except total yards. Robert Griffin will shine brightest on Sunday.
What running back is going to have a bigger day on Sunday?
Trevor: This is a tough one, because Rice can easily explode on any defense. But sticking with the overall homerism of this article, I am going to say Alfred Morris will have the bigger day on Sunday. As mentioned before, I think the Skins will use the pass to open up the run, mixing things up on the Ravens defense and leaving some big holes for Morris to hit later in the game. If the Skins can get out to an early lead, I expect Morris to have a big day and hopefully we will get to see a Home Run.
Cory: RAY RICE!!!! The Ravens want to win this game in the worst way for two reasons: Secure a playoff spot and to have bragging rights in the DMV area. This could be the breakout game that the Ravens faithful have been waiting for all season. I see Rice finally breaking some long runs in route to 150 yards and showing the rook Alfred Morris how it’s done. Yes Morris has more yards this season than Rice but I’ll take Rice any day of the week over Morris and Sunday will show us why.
What is the biggest factor that each team has to focus on most to win?
Cory: Stop RGIII plain and simple. When RGIII gets going the Skins have a different swagger about them. The Ravens need to make sure the Skins don’t start strutting with that swagger and there is a man that can put a halt to that on the Ravens D. He wears #20 on his jersey and might be the best ball hawking safety this league has ever seen. There’s no better way to slow down RGIII than to pick him off a time or two and get him rattled. I expect the Ball Hawk to trick the young buck RGIII into some mistakes that take him off the field and puts Flacco and the Baltimore offense on the field. It’s pretty easy to stop someone if they are on the sidelines.
Trevor: Time of possession. If the Skins dominate the time of possession I think they can get their first victory over Baltimore. They will need a well-balanced attacked of run and pass plays, but their offense has the firepower necessary to control the clock. Keeping the injured Ravens defense on the field while keeping their own lackluster defense on the sidelines is going to be a huge key for the Redskins to pull this one out.
Who is each team’s fantasy sleeper on Sunday?
Trevor: At this point in the fantasy season, you are in the playoffs and probably not going to have to play a deep sleeper. If you want to win, you play studs like Griffin III, Morris, and Garcon.
But since this is the sleeper category, I am going to go with Aldrick Robinson. Again, DON’T play him unless you are extremely desperate. I think the Redskins are going to be passing the ball often in the first half, and Robinson has made the most of his 11 catches on the season turning 3 of them into touchdowns. He has scored from 5 yards out, and on deep balls of 49 yards and 68 yards, so clearly he is a deep threat. I could see him catching a few balls and possibly scoring on a long TD, which would be great for Skins fans because we would have a shot at watching this awesomeness.
And just for good measure…another prediction: Robinson has not returned a punt or kickoff this year, but I am going to go out on a limb and say he will have at least one return this game.
Cory: Like Trevor said, you’re most likely in the playoffs and aren’t looking for a sleeper unless you are desperate. So if you are desperate for a RB, the Ravens Bernard Pierce could be a decent pickup. I could easily see some big runs from Ray Rice to set the Ravens up inside the red zone. After those big runs Rice is going to need a breather. Enter Pierce for clean-up duty and the score. Pierce has only scored once this season but I could easily see the second score coming Sunday against the Skins. Pierce is averaging only 20 rushing yards a game, so even if he doesn’t score he could get you at least two points. Like Trevor and I said, this is a last resort option. But if you have any Ravens offensive players on your squad, start them. This could be a high scoring affair.
What is your prediction for the game?
Cory: Now that the dust has settled its time for prediction time. Both teams desperately want to win this contest and I see it coming down to the final minutes of the game before a winner is decided. That being said I’m going with Baltimore on Sunday in the Battle of the Beltway to the tune of 31-27. Look for the vet Flacco to lead a game winning drive in the final minutes followed by an Ed Reed interception of the rook RGIII to seal the deal. Sorry Skins fans, you are going to have to wait to get your first victory over the Ravens because it’s not happening this Sunday. You are all going to be destroying your living rooms just like this joker, but it will be because RGIII just threw the game clinching pick, not because your girlfriends ruined the Stanley Cup for you.
Trevor: No time to slow down on my Skinsitude now. I too see this one coming down to the wire, maybe not exactly as Cory has described it. I have a tight match all game, with Robert Griffin III leading a drive down the field in the forth and the Skins going ahead on a Kai Forbath field goal. The Ravens try and answer and put together a drive of their own, but the defense makes a stand and Fed Ex goes crazy. Redskins win 24-21.
No matter what the outcome of this game is, the atmosphere of this DMV match-up is sure to be a great one come Sunday.
So Ravens Nation and Redskins Nation…..who you got? Leave us some game predictions in the comment section below.