Because of injuries on the offensive line recently, Flacco has taken a beating in the last couple of games. He appeared extremely tired after the past three games in post-game interviews.
After Sunday, there is still a lot of football left to play. Despite having problems this season, the Ravens remain in contention and could be in first place in the AFC North if they beat the Jets, and Pittsburgh loses to New England.
Backup quarterback Ryan Mallett didn’t perform well in offseason mini-camps and training camp, but seems to play better in games. He certainly was solid in the exhibition games, and did lead the Ravens to a win over the Steelers late last season.
This is a critical game for the Ravens, but way too early in the season to label it a “must win." I think the Ravens will handle Flacco cautiously, and I expect him to play Sunday.
But if he gets bounced around early like he did in previous weeks and suffers some pain, I believe the Ravens will give him the hook quickly even though they have a bye the following week.