I think the one major advantage right now the Redskins have is with how their offensive system and play calling has been working compared to the Ravens. The Redskins have constantly been able to run the ball to set up big plays in play-action. I can see Washington continue to have success this week in the run game versus Baltimore going forward much like Monday versus the Giants.
With the Ravens you have not had that consistency with their offense led by Joe Flacco, and moving the ball on the road has been a major problem. The Redskins need to do what kills the Baltimore fan base, which is to get Cam Cameron to forget that he has Ray Rice in the offensive huddle. A player like Rice will give the Redskins more trouble than any back they have seen all season even though the Redskins have had success stopping the run.
As for the defenses I think it comes down to one major question for each team. First for the Redskins, they cannot get beat by the deep ball to Torrey Smith. Flacco is not afraid to try it and the Redskins are a prime target. Madieu Williams cannot be caught flat footed, side footed, or goofy footed with a threat like Torrey Smith. And with Cedric Griffin done and DeAngelo Hall in a walking boot the secondary is in very bad shape as is.
As for the Ravens the question is can they be the first team to solve the read option of Robert Griffin III. And it is going to start by being able to stop the run since the Ravens are also hurting at the corner position. It will be interesting to see the battle between Griffin andHall of Famer Ed Reed. RG3 has not faced a play making safety like Reed so far.
Both teams have solid positive turnover margins coming into the game so I expect this to be a major factor. The Redskins actually won a game versus the Giants where they lost the turnover battle Monday night. They will not want to chance that again versus Baltimore. Griffin protects the ball better than Flacco, which is surprising for a rookie versus someone who has played in many playoff games in his career.
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As I say every week, the Washington defense has to force pressure on Flacco but I don’t see that happening being that they are not facing a shaky line like Dallas or Philly. The Skins got a huge sack from Rob Jackson versus the Giants but that was about it. It’s time for Ryan Kerrigan to step up in one-on-one situations.
Griffin got lucky last week with his fumble and cannot risk plays like that. Baltimore is always opportunistic as guys like Reed always find the ball and change games. Ask Mark Brunell and Clinton Portis. Reed has already single-handily beaten Washington twice in his career.
The Washington crowd has to continue what it started last week versus the Giants and have a home field advantage. It is embarrassing that I have to make this point and that it’s not a given like the RFK days, but it is very important. Baltimore has struggled on the road especially on offense and the crowd must be a factor. I know that many Ravens fans will make the short trip down to FedEx but the Skins will have an advantage. The one thing that can eliminate a home crowd is getting behind big early and the Redskins have to get off to a solid start.
As for the game. The short series has been won by Baltimore 3 of 4 times with the Redskins only highlight being a Stephen Davis stiff arm to Rod Woodson. Since the Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens, the more successful organization has easily been Baltimore. This could easily be summed up by the Redskins former GM for most of that period is now out of the league and doing radio in Baltimore. All the while the Ravens have Ozzie Newsome.
That being said and hopefully quickly forgotten, these teams are a lot closer than their 9-3 and 6-6 records. I have a lot more confidence in Robert Griffin III than I would in Joe Flacco. The Skins defense blows but has been better as of late while the Ravens Defense is better than Washington, it is not the same of years past. And possibly once again without a monster like Terrell Suggs they are much closer than one would think.
It is hard to see a John Harbaugh coached Ravens team dropping two straight but based on the Ravens road struggles where they cannot put together a solid 4 quarters I have the Redskins winning 24-13.