Week Six What To Look For
1. Pass Defense
I know I talked about this last week but it applies this week also. Cowboys QB Tony Romo has been having an up and down season. Week one he passed for 3 TDs and 307 yards. Two weeks ago against the Bears (the Cowboys had a bye last week) he threw for 5 INTs and wasn’t playing by the end of the game. The Ravens pass defense was excellent last week allowing only 124 yards and forcing 2 INTs. This should come with a note that they faced the Chiefs who only attempted 17 passes and ran it 51 times. Half of the battle this week will be which Tony Romo comes to play. If it is the Romo from the Bears game then the Ravens will have no trouble. If it is the Romo from week one then the Ravens have their work cut out for them. To help make Romo have a bad game the defensive line will actually need to show up this week. Last week the Ravens had 0 sacks against a Chiefs line that had given up 13 sacks coming into the game and still ranks tied for 9th worst in sacks, still. To put it simply the Ravens need OLB Terrell Suggs back as soon as possible.
2. Ray Lewis
There was a lot of talk about Lewis this week and whether his offseason weight loss has caused him to be worse in the run game. I think Sports Illustrated’s Peter King said it best in MMQB, “[I didn’t like] Ray Lewis, who really got pushed around by the Chiefs. That weight loss looks like it’s hurting him a lot. He just isn’t a factor against the run the way he used to be Ray Lewis, who really got pushed around by the Chiefs. That weight loss looks like it’s hurting him a lot. He just isn’t a factor against the run the way he used to be.” I think part of the problem is his weight loss and part is his age. Dallas Cowboys FB Lawrence Vickers even called out Lewis this week. The Cowboys have averaged 67.8 yards rushing this year which ranks 30th in the NFL so Vickers shouldn’t really be calling people out yet. Lewis has always played well under pressure so expect him to bounce back and silence his doubts.
3. Offensive Line
The Ravens have made one change on the line for this week, starting veteran Bobbie Williams at LG over Ramon Harewood. There has been no explanations for this move. However, before the season started Williams was expected to start but he then suffered a minor ankle injury. Harewood isn’t on the injury report so an injury can’t be the reason. So far this season Harewood has given up 1 sack, 12 QB pressures, and has no penalties. The line will face a big challenge with the Cowboys as they have All-Pro OLB DeMarcus Ware and NT Jay Ratliff is expected to return injury this week. The challenge of containing Ware will go to OTs Michael Oher and Kelechi Osemele. If the Cowboys are smart they will rotate him between the two tackles as they both struggled last week giving up 2 sacks each.
4. Joe Flacco
Just like Ray Lewis, Flacco needs a bounce back game. Last week he went 13-of-27 for 187 yards and 1 INT. Flacco is used to the media bashing him so it is safe to assume they haven’t gotten to him and he is focused for this weeks matchup. Flacco has a very tough matchup this week in the Cowboys. The Cowboys rank 1st in passing yards allowed with 170 per game but they only have 1 INT. It will be up to the offensive line to give him sufficient time to find open receivers. The receivers also have to get open and catch passes unlike last week. As this game is more likely to be a shootout than a low scorer, Flacco should bounce back with over 300 passing yards. Another thing going for Flacco is he is playing at home where his lowest passing total this season is 299 yards.