Some sports name three stars of the game after the game. I'll do that one better: I'm going to name them before the Ravens even play. These will be the three stars of the game when the Ravens travel to South Florida for an important AFC clash with the Miami Dolphins.
1. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill
Tannehill, the third-year quarterback and former college wide receiver, presents a unique challenge for a Ravens defense that will be playing its first game without Haloti Ngata and is still struggling to find effective cornerback and safety combinations. A quarterback who completes a high percentage of his passes, as Tannehill does, and also has a running game that can keep a defense off balance will be hard for the Ravens to deal with.
Tannehill's accuracy, especially on short passing routes, will be key. According to Pro Football Focus, Tannehill has completed an impressive 216 of 264 passes (81.8 percent) within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, with nine touchdowns and three interceptions on those passes. He's also the fifth-leading rusher among quarterbacks this year with 45 carries for 289 yards and a touchdown.
The Ravens will respect his legs, but will come to rue a throwing arm that's much more refined since the Ravens saw him last season. Tannehill could easily be the third straight quarterback to complete over 75 percent of his passes against the Ravens, and in doing so, eclipse the 300-yard mark and throw two touchdowns without a problem.
2. Wide receiver Jarvis Landry
Allow me to follow through on my promise to include an opposing wide receiver in these three stars for the rest of eternity, or until one of them proves me wrong. The Louisiana State product, drafted in the second round as an underneath threat opposite former Pittsburgh Steelers star Mike Wallace, has come along strong
Landry has had double-digit targets in three of the last four weeks, with three of his five touchdowns and around 40 percent of his 518 receiving yards on the season. Where Landry does the most damage, however, is after the catch. His 315 yards after the catch are 13th in the NFL, and tops in what's become an impressive class of rookies. The way the Ravens defense covers and allows a staggeringly high amount of completions, Landry could find himself in position to catch short passes and extend them through the Ravens' secondary and down the field.
Wallace might get the deep targets, but Landry will likely find himself open whether it's Lardarius Webb, Asa Jackson, or Danny Gorrer covering him underneath. A first career 100-yard receiving game, with a touchdown added to his haul, is probably the floor for the promising rookie.
3. Running back Justin Forsett
The Ravens' pass defense issues are real, but so are Miami's issues stopping the run. In two games against the Denver Broncos and the New York Jets in the past two weeks, the Dolphins allowed 478 yards rushing, dropping them to 22nd in the league.
Forsett, whose workload has grown to the point that he's starting to be rested, is an important cog in the Ravens' running game, even against teams with stout defensive fronts. Since the bye, the Ravens ran the ball 64 times and threw 55 times, signifying a commitment to the ground game since the 20-point loss in Pittsburgh.
All of this means good news for Forsett, who is listed as questionable but is likely to play. He's running behind a healthy offensive line that features all five opening-game starters for the sixth straight week. Given Miami's second-ranked passing defense, Forsett could have even more responsibility in the Ravens game plan Sunday. He has rushed for more than 100 yards in three straight games and could easily have a fourth in South Florida. Pencil him in for 120 yards, though the touchdowns might get snatched away by Bernard Pierce or Lorenzo Taliaferro.