In this game-day staple, blogger Matt Vensel makes four sometimes-courageous predictions for the game. All he asks is that you don’t hold it against him whenever those predictions end up being embarrassingly wrong.
The Ravens had no time to dwell on their surprising loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. Up next are the 6-6 Washington Redskins, who have won three straight since their bye week. At 9-3, the Ravens remain in great shape in the AFC North -- they have a two-game lead -- but they have lost grasp of their first-round bye.
They have more pressing things to grab Sunday, mainly rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, who has quickly become the most dynamic dual-threat passer in the NFL. Griffin has completed 67.1 percent of his passes this season with 17 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He has also rushed for a ridiculous 714 yards and six touchdowns. With Griffin running their read-option offense, the Redskins rank first in the NFL in rushing.
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The Ravens have a lot going for them, too, which is why I predicted in the newspaper this week that they would bounce back with a close win Sunday. The Ravens have won 15 straight games immediately following a loss, the NFL’s longest such streak, and John Harbaugh’s teams are 18-4 all-time after a loss. Picking them to make it 16 in a row isn’t bold, but these four predictions are. We’ll see if I actually get one right this week.
1. RAY RICE WILL GET 100 RUSHING YARDS
Even though the Ravens once led by 10 points and did not trail in the final three quarters, Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice received just 12 carries in the 23-20 loss to the Steelers and did not touch the ball in the fourth quarter. The coaching staff was criticized for that during the week, and usually when Rice’s workload gets scrutinized, it picks up the following week. Count on that happening again Sunday, even though the Redskins are fourth in the NFL in rushing defense. I expect Rice to get at least 16 carries, and I also expect him to make the most of them by topping top 100 rushing yards for the first time since Week 5. Yes, it has been that long.
2. RGIII WILL ALSO GET 100 RUSHING YARDS
Griffin, the second overall pick in April's draft, has done many amazing things in his rookie season, including rushing for at least 80 yards in three games and 138 in a win over the Minnesota Vikings. I can see him topping 100 rushing yards again against the Ravens, who have had communication issues in their secondary at times. Remember, these guys let Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich run for a 31-yard touchdown, which is pretty much the equivalent of Griffin running for a 131-yard touchdown. The Ravens have been trying to simulate the Griffin experience in practice with Dennis Dixon. We’ll soon see if they can handle the real deal.
3. TORREY SMITH HAS A HOMECOMING TD
Though he claims he was not a Redskins fan, wide receiver Torrey Smith grew up in Northern Virginia, which is Redskins territory. I bet some of his friends and family will be wearing burgundy and gold at FedEx Field on Sunday. So even if it technically isn’t a homecoming, it will still be a cool moment for Smith, who, as you know, attended college at Maryland. Smith and Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco couldn't get on the same page against the Steelers, and they were frustrated after the missed opportunities. They will figure it out Sunday, and Smith, who has seven touchdowns on the season, will dance in the end zone in front of his loved ones.
4. TERRELL SUGGS PLAYS HALF OF THE SNAPS
*** Update: I already got this one wrong. The Ravens decided during warmups that Suggs would be inactive against the Redskins. But hey, feel free to keep reading, and to giggle while you are doing so.
Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs is down to two fully-functioning limbs after tearing his right biceps in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss. It was another blow for Suggs, who is also playing on a surgically-repaired right Achilles tendon. He plans on toughing it out, though, it appears. He said Wednesday that he would return at some point this season and then he went out and practiced, albeit on a limited basis, on Thursday and Friday. Suggs is officially listed as questionable and will be a game-time decision, but I’m done counting this guy out. I expect him to suit up against Griffin and the Redskins and to play at least half of the snaps.