Last weekend, the Buffalo Bills spoiled what I thought would be a big week for Torrey Smith, Ed Dickson and the Ravens. Sure, Smith delivered, but Dickson and the Ravens dropped the ball in an error-filled 23-20 loss. The Ravens travel to Miami to play the Dolphins this weekend, and while I picked them to lose on the road again, I do foresee some things going in their favor.
1. THE RAVENS WILL FINALLY SCORE IN THE FIRST:
The Ravens haven't found the end zone or split the uprights in a first quarter since fullback Vonta Leach caught a two-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Flacco midway through the first quarter in Week 1. That means the offense has since played nearly a full game's worth of first-quarter action without putting up a single point. The Ravens are aware of this, and it is obviously a priority for them as they broke their huddle after Thursday’s morning walkthrough by chanting “Start fast!” They will at the very least muster a field goal in the first quarter Sunday.
2. TERRELL SUGGS WILL KEEP HIS STREAK ALIVE:
Dominant once again, Suggs has one sack in each of the first four games this season. If he gets one Sunday, he will tie the franchise record for consecutive games with a sack. Adalius Thomas had a sack in five straight in 2006 and Paul Kruger tied that record last season. I like Suggs’ chances against the Dolphins, who have allowed quarterback Ryan Tannehill to get sacked an NFL-high 18 times. Suggs will often line up against left tackle Jonathan Martin, but at times he could exploit another favorable matchup against right tackle Tyson Clabo. So yeah, heads up, Tannehill.
3. RAY RICE WILL GET AT LEAST 20 TOUCHES:
The Ravens ran the ball nine times in the loss to the Bills, setting a new franchise low for rushes in a game. Running back Ray Rice got just five carries and was targeted only once in the passing game. Whenever the Ravens strayed away from their Pro Bowl back in the past, they typically responded by making sure he was heavily involved the following week. That’s why I think Rice will get a bunch of touches. They won’t all be carries, especially if they again struggle to run the ball efficiently. But the Ravens will make sure to get the ball into their playmaker’s hands against the Dolphins.
4. EUGENE MONROE WON’T START, BUT HE’LL FINISH:
The Ravens finalized a trade for Eugene Monroe on Thursday, seemingly upgrading the left tackle position with one of the NFL’s better offensive tackles. But Monroe, who joined the team that morning, might not be enough up to speed with the Ravens offense by Sunday’s game. There is a chance he could start against the Dolphins. There is also a chance he could be inactive. My prediction, based on a gut feeling alone, is that Bryant McKinnie will get one last start at left tackle, but the Ravens will have to call on Monroe to replace him when McKinnie struggles again.