We knew there was a decent chance the Ravens would be 1-1 as they headed into St. Louis to take on the Rams in Week 3, but I’m guessing that few of us thought that loss would come against the Titans.
But that disappointing 26-13 letdown is in the rearview mirror -- at least it better be for the men in black and purple -- as the Ravens play the Rams on Sunday at another challenging road stadium. The 0-2 Rams are an inferior team in terms of talent. The Ravens can’t afford to give away another win.
Here are five significant storylines to follow from your sofas as the Ravens play the Rams on Sunday:
1. Who will Joe Flacco throw the ball to? Well, besides Anquan Boldin? Lee Evans and David Reed have been ruled out for the game, which means that rookie receivers Torrey Smith, Tandon Doss and LaQuan Williams have to be involved in the offense. The Ravens should have success running the ball against the Rams, but that trio will have to make a play or two at some point.
2. Speaking of that Ravens running game, I hope you aren’t going up against Ray Rice in fantasy football this week. The Rams have allowed a league-high 177.5 rushing yards per game in 2011. The Ravens strayed from Rice against the Titans after falling behind in the third quarter, but with their inexperience at wideout and the Rams’ vulnerability up front, he should be their rock Sunday.
3. Each team is dealing with notable injuries. The Ravens will be without Evans and Reed, and it is believed that left guard Ben Grubbs will be in street clothes, too. Cornerback Chris Carr is listed as questionable, and struggling cornerback Domonique Foxworth could be inactive if Carr plays. Meanwhile, Steven Jackson, the Rams’ star running back, is questionable and starting receiver Danny Amendola, who is to Sam Bradford as Wes Welker is to Tom Brady, is doubtful.
4. The Rams ran the no-huddle offense often last week, so we might find out if the Ravens defense -- specifically Ray Lewis -- is as old as some analysts suggested before the season. St. Louis sped it up on 11 drives in the first half in a 28-16 loss to the New York Giants. If the Ravens can force three-and-outs on Sunday, the no-huddle won’t wear them down (or inspire them to fake injuries).
5. John Harbaugh’s staff must bounce back after the guys wearing the headsets on the other sideline got the better of them last weekend. No one wants to hear this, but it happens sometimes. So how will Harbaugh and his coordinators respond against his good friend, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo? Cam Cameron would be wise to keep it simple and put the ball in the belly of Ray Rice at least 20 times. As for defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, it would be nice to see the opposite. His chaotic blitzes gave Ben Roethlisberger fits in Week 1. Hopefully he goes hard at Bradford.
*** Blogger's note: I'm an idiot and said the Rams were 2-0. They are 0-2, and I regret the error.