Things to look for on Sunday when you aren’t watching the ball…
Me & Julio: Julio is the name of my friend’s African Grey parrot but a bird of greater interest on Sunday is Falcons’ WR Julio Jones who leads the NFL in receptions with 44 and an eye-popping 66 targets – in other words 11 per game. It’s safe to say that Jimmy Smith will be busy tomorrow.
Smith is the 7th ranked corner in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus and quarterbacks have a passer rating of 50.5 when targeting the rangy CB. Smith competed very well against Calvin Johnson last season in Detroit limiting Megatron to 6 catches for 98 yards without a score on 14 targets. With a little help from the hometown crowd there’s no reason to think Smith can’t be equally effective against Jones.
Left Flank: Following LT James Hurst’s solid performance against the Carolina Panthers, Gary Kubiak may have fallen victim to a false sense of security when he game planned for the Indianapolis Colts. After another solid performance from Hurst in Tampa along with rookie guard John Urschel the same temptation might be there again. The right game plan will help mitigate potential breakdowns on the left side of the offensive line and for the Ravens that generally means running a balanced attack.
Suggsvil: The Falcons offensive line is a bit of a mess right now. While Matt Ryan has only been sacked 7 times he’s been hurried 55 times. Rookie LT Jake Matthews has struggled and is responsible for 2 of the 7 sacks and 13 of the hurries. He’s the 70th ranked tackle in the league among 72 tackles graded by PFF. Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil had big games in Tampa on the road. This one could be even better.
Juice: Described as the team’s Swiss Army Knife, Kyle Juszczyk is a developing blocker and an outstanding outlet receiver for Joe Flacco. He’s shown a decent burst in the open field after catching the football as well. The Falcons have struggled to defend RB’s as pass catchers and on Sunday that could mean that Juice is on the loose.
Blowin’ in The Wind: Precipitation won’t be an issue on Sunday but the wind could be. Diagonal winds are predicted between 15-20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph. That might mean that special teams will play a big part in the game as the wind holds up the ball a bit allowing for returns. It could also lead to turnovers. The wind could also affect the passing game and/or the way the coordinators plan to attack the opposing defenses through the air. Joe Flacco’s arm strength is superior to Matt Ryan’s.
Promising DT Timmy Jernigan could return to action on Sunday after sitting 4 games with a knee injury…Will Hill is now among the 53-man squad as the Ravens have assigned defensive lineman Christo Bilukidi to Injured Reserve…LB Arthur Brown is the only member of the 53-man squad besides Hill to not see the field this season. He’s been a healthy scratch for all six games… The Ravens are 21-2 at home vs. the NFC since 2003… Steve Smith Sr. (four in 2014) needs just one more game with 100-or-more receiving yards to set the Ravens’ single-season record of four held by himself, Mark Clayton (2006) and Michael Jackson (1996).