2:30 PM EST, December 8, 2012
RAVENS PASSING GAME: The Ravens are 12 games into the season and it's still hard to figure out what they're going to get from their passing attack one drive to the next never mind week-by-week. Quarterback Joe Flacco has thrown just two touchdowns over the past three games and he's been sacked 10 times during that span. Flacco is struggling to get everyone involved and his inability to connect with Torrey Smith on the deep ball figured prominently in the Ravens' 23-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last week.
REDSKINS PASSING GAME: Of all the impressive things that Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III has accomplished in his first season, that he's only thrown four interceptions -- tied with Tom Brady for an NFL-low among full-time starters -- stands out. Griffin is 23rd in the NFL in attempts but he takes shots down the field and he's been extremely accurate, tying for fifth in the league with a 67.1 completion percentage. The Redskins' receivers have good speed and Pierre Garcon is finally healthy and producing.
RAVENS RUNNING GAME: Ray Rice had just 12 carries last week and didn't touch the ball in the fourth quarter, leading to more second guessing of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Rice rushed for a 34-yard touchdown, but he's just 12th in the NFL in rushing yards and he's been held under 100 yards for seven straight games. Despite rookie running back Bernard Pierce continuing to get more involved, the Ravens are 23rd in the NFL in rushing, averaging 102.4 yards per game.
REDSKINS RUNNING GAME: It's hard to believe that a ground game headed by a rookie sixth-round pick out of Florida Atlantic leads the NFL in rushing but Alfred Morris has been that good. Physical and plenty fast enough, Morris is tied for third in the NFL with 1,106 rushing yards to go along with six touchdowns. Griffin, relying on speed and deception in directing the pistol offense, has added 714 rushing yards, a rookie record by a quarterback, and six touchdowns. The Redskins are averaging a league-best 167.2 rushing yards per game.
RAVENS RUSH DEFENSE: A week after containing the Steelers' run game, the Ravens will step up in class against the league's best ground attack. The challenge for the Ravens will be to not allow speedy quarterback Robert Griffin III to turn the corner and get outside, something he's done all season. Defensive tackles Haloti Ngata, Terrence Cody and Ma'ake Kemoeatu will also have to be stout in the middle and the Ravens will have to gang tackle Alfred Morris who doesn't go down easy.
REDSKINS RUSH DEFENSE: For the third straight week, the Ravens will face a run defense ranked in the top five in the NFL heading into the matchup. The Redskins sit fourth overall, allowing just 91.5 yards per game on and limiting the opposition to seven rushing touchdowns all season. Venerable middle linebacker London Fletcher is tackling machine and he leads the team with 100 stops. Linebacker Perry Riley is second with 92 tackles while Barry Cofield occupies space in the middle.
RAVENS PASS DEFENSE: The Ravens regressed in this area last week, experiencing numerous coverage breakdowns that allowed Steelers' receivers to run free in the secondary all afternoon. Third-string quarterback Charlie Batch threw for 276 yards and was sacked just twice. The Ravens rank 23rd in the NFL, allowing 246.5 passing yards per game. With Terrell Suggs not expected to play, defensive coordinator Dean Pees will again have to find creative ways to put pressure on the quarterback.
REDSKINS PASS DEFENSE: An already-vulnerable defensive backfield took another hit this week when No.3 cornerback Cedric Griffin was suspended for the rest of the regular season for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who starts opposite former Raven and University of Maryland standout Josh Wilson, has been on crutches this week but says he'll play Sunday. The Redskins have allowed 24 passing touchdowns and they rank 31st overall in pass defense.
RAVENS SPECIAL TEAMS: When you have three return touchdowns, you suddenly get treated with a little more respect and that's what Jacoby Jones has found recently. Teams have started mixing up the kicks to Jones, who has been quiet the past two weeks. Rookie Justin Tucker hit two more field goals last Sunday and he's now 24-of-26 on the season. Sam Koch averaged 50.6 yards on his six punts versus Pittsburgh. Brendon Ayanbadejo leads the Ravens with 12 special teams tackles.
REDSKINS SPECIAL TEAMS: The Redskins cut former Raven kicker Billy Cundiff after he missed five of 12 field-goal attempts over the first five weeks and it has proven wise. His replacement, Kai Forbath, has drilled all 11 of his attempts, including seven from beyond 40 yards. Both of the Redskins coverage units have been solid and their primary returner, Brandon Banks, has great speed. However, he's made some bad decisions on when to field and try to advance punts and kickoffs.
RAVENS INTANGIBLES: The Ravens' ability to bounce back has gotten plenty of attention this week and rightly so. Under John Harbaugh, the Ravens have an NFL-best 15 consecutive wins in games following a loss and they haven't dropped back-to-back games since mid-October of 2009. On the downside, the defense has been decimated by injuries and despite going 4-2 on the road this season, the Ravens' offense has been anemic away from M&T Bank Stadium.
REDSKINS INTANGIBLES: Three straight wins have the Redskins one game out of the AFC North lead and on the cusp of several accomplishments that they haven't achieved since 2008. That was the last time they won four straight games, had a winning record after 13 contests and registered at least four home wins in a season. The Redskins are inexperienced in several spots and their defense is banged up but Mike Shanahan's team is playing with a lot of confidence and not turning the ball over.
PREDICTION: The Redskins have a ton of momentum, the home-field advantage and one of the hottest quarterbacks in the NFL. The Ravens are dealing with a tough loss last week, a wildly inconsistent offense and a banged-up and vulnerable defense. It seems like the recipe for a Redskins' rout except the Ravens are usually at their best in these scenarios. After a week of hearing about how overmatched they could be against Griffin and how poorly they've played offensively, the Ravens should be poised to play one of their better all-around games in a while and it will be just enough to get a key win.
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