Did the Ravens really lose to the Bills? I know the Bills are an NFL team, but how many chances to win did the Ravens waste? Even with Lardarius Webb’s injury, Joe Flacco’s five interceptions and their sub-par blocking, Baltimore still had a chance to win on the road. Depending on your outlook, that can be a good or a bad thing.
But now it’s on to Miami, where the Dolphins are coming off of a Monday night embarrassment at the hands of the Saints. Still, the Dolphins are one of five teams in the NFL to have a winning road record thus far (2-1). That means although they don’t have the most talented roster, they are a legitimate threat to win every week. The Ravens will need to execute at a very high level to beat the Dolphins.
Speaking of which, here are five ways the Ravens could accomplish that task on Sunday.
1) Sack Ryan Tannehill
The Dolphins are tied with the Jaguars for most sacks allowed this season (18). Coincidentally, the Ravens boast the third-most team sacks this season (13).
If the Ravens have one unit that’s played up to expectations, it’s been their defensive line/front seven. There’s no reason for Tannehill to walk off the field Sunday with a clean jersey.
2) Establish the run
If you saw the Bills game last week, you likely didn’t see Ray Rice running. Baltimore ran for a total of 24 yards in Week 4. That is flat out unacceptable.
When you establish the run, you have more confidence and more flow as an offense. You control the clock and you dictate pace to the defense.
The Ravens are just four games into the 2013 season, but this lack of production in the run game (28th in the league, 64.0 yards per game) is not a problem they can afford to let get worse. It needs to be fixed immediately.
3) Block Cameron Wake and Paul Soliai
In case you don’t know who these two defensive monsters are, Wake and Soliai are like the Dolphins’ version of Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata. While Soliai isn’t where Ngata is yet, Suggs and Wake (whose status for the game is still uncertain) are both elite NFL pass rushers.
This duo is quite capable of collapsing the pocket and stuffing the run. What did the Ravens struggle with last week? Pass protection and run production.
4) No interceptions for Joe Flacco
Flacco has never thrown more than 12 interceptions in any of five NFL seasons. He’s thrown seven picks already in 2013.
Not to say he doesn’t care, but Flacco hasn’t been one to hang his hat on stats. Still, whether it’s a dropped pass or a bad throw, the interceptions have to stop. That won’t be easy this week, as he will face a Miami secondary that will be much better than the one he saw last week in Buffalo.
5) Score first
For a team like the Ravens that has yet to win a road game this year, scoring first will go a long way in helping them reach that end.
In their last three games, the Ravens have been outscored 12-0 in the first quarter. Yes they’ve won two of those games, but you can’t honestly tell me it’s part of their plan to be shutout in the first quarter.
Scoring first on Sunday could be all it takes for Baltimore to break out of the funk they’re in. If Baltimore doesn’t score first on Sunday, they could very likely fall behind and have a repeat of Week 4, when they lost to a less talented team on the road.
PREDICTION: Ravens 19, Dolphins 17