1.Will the running game get untracked?
The Ravens have struggled mightily this season to run the football, stalled out by a lack of consistent blocking, not enough broken tackles and a few instances where backs have missed holes.
The Ravens are ranked 25th in rushing offense, averaging 77.3 yards per game and 2.6 yards per carry after gaining 118.8 per game and 4.3 yards per carry last season.
The team finished with 1,901 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns last year but is on pace to finish with 1,236 yards this season.
The Ravens haven't gotten enough push from center Gino Gradkowski and tackles Bryant McKinnie and Michael Oher. And that has made it even tougher for Bernard Pierce (144 yards, two touchdowns, 2.8 average per carry) and Rice (72 yards, one touchdown, 2.9 average per carry) to break into the secondary.
But the running game could be provided a boost by the combination of the Buffalo Bills' vulnerable run defense and the potential return of Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice, who missed last week's game with a strained left hip flexor.
Despite the aggressive presence of rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso and defensive tackle Kyle Williams, the Bills have a porous run defense.
The Bills allowed unheralded New York Jets running back Bilal Powell to rush for 149 yards during a loss last week. They've surrendered 155 rushing yards per game, tied for 30th in the NFL.
The Ravens could gain traction and pick up a lot more yards on the ground Sunday. (Doug Pensinger, Getty Images /September 28, 2013)
While the Baltimore Ravens and the Buffalo Bills prepare for their Sunday matchup, the two franchises don’t seem to have much in common.
Buffalo has gone through six general managers since 2000 and hasn’t made the playoffs during that time. Meanwhile, Baltimore has been the model of consistency, with nine playoff appearances and two Super Bowl championships.
The two cities do share one unflattering trait, though.
Baltimore and Buffalo rank as the only metropolitan areas with a National Football League franchise that don’t also have a Fortune 500 company within their boundaries, according to a release from Maryland Business for Responsive Government.
Maryland has four Fortune 500 companies and they are all based in Bethesda: No. 59 Lockheed Martin, No. 195 Coventry Health Care, No. 230 Marriott International and No. 469 Host Hotels and Resorts.
Jerry Wit, chairman of the nonprofit business group, said the Buffalo connection reflected poorly on Baltimore.
“Does it make you feel secure and proud to share this distinction with the city of Buffalo?” Wit said in a press release. “Does anyone working or living in Baltimore really want to be compared to Buffalo?”
Baltimore has more than 600,000 residents. In comparison, similarly-sized NFL cities with Fortune 500 companies include Atlanta (11), Charlotte (5) and Nashville (2), among others.
In the past seven years, Maryland has lost nine Fortune 500 companies while neighboring Virginia has improved from 17 to 27 Fortune 500 companies, according to MBRG.
Constellation Energy was Baltimore’s sole representative on the 2012 Fortune 500 list, but was acquired by Chicago’s Exelon Corp. for $7.9 billion in March of last year.
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