Scouting report for Ravens at Dolphins

Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith holds off Miami's Chris Clemons on a first-quarter reception at Sun Life Stadium in their game last season.
Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith holds off Miami's Chris Clemons on a first-quarter reception at Sun Life Stadium in their game last season. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)


RAVENS: Joe Flacco and the offense have done almost everything right the past three games except finish drives in the red zone. Flacco has gone three straight games without an interception for the first time in four years and he's been sacked once or fewer in six of the past seven games. The Ravens are looking for more consistency from their receiving corps. Steve Smith had one catch for two yards last week. Torrey Smith has at least one touchdown in five of his past seven games.

DOLPHINS: Ryan Tannehill has shown progress in his third NFL season, limiting his mistakes, getting the ball out quicker and taking fewer sacks. The Dolphins don't take a lot of deep shots, but Tannehill has numerous receivers to work the intermediate areas and the middle of the field. The Ravens know former Pittsburgh Steeler and current Dolphin receiver Mike Wallace well, but rookie Jarvis Landry actually leads Miami with 57 receptions. Wallace has seven touchdown catches.




RAVENS: Justin Forsett achieved a career milestone, eclipsing the 1,000-yard plateau, last week. This week, he'll attempt to rush for more than 100 yards for the fourth consecutive game, something no Raven has done since Jamal Lewis in 2003. Because of the struggles of Miami's run defense and a desire to protect a vulnerable defense, the Ravens figure to run the ball early and often. Don't be shocked if rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro has a much bigger role this week, especially inside the red zone.

DOLPHINS: Lamar Miller isn't a household name but he's a hard runner who can find holes and the end zone. Miller has seven touchdowns and is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. When the Dolphins want a bigger back, they call on Daniel Thomas. But they also rely heavily on Tannehill who has no problem keeping the ball and getting upfield. His 289 rushing yards are second on the team. Miami averages 120.3 rushing yards per game, which ranks 10th. They don't abandon the run easily.



RAVENS: The Ravens are allowing just 86.4 rushing yards per game, the fourth lowest total in the NFL. However, those numbers came with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata playing. His four-game suspension for a violation of the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy will likely elevate Timmy Jernigan into a starting role, and lead to more responsibility for Lawrence Guy and DeAngelo Tyson. They'll have to keep blockers off C.J. Mosley and Daryl Smith, who have 198 total tackles.

DOLPHINS: What happened to this group? Through 10 games, the Dolphins had the NFL's eighth-best run defense. The unit has ballooned to 21st after surrendering 478 rushing yards over the past two weeks. The Denver Broncos' C.J. Anderson rushed for 167 yards and a touchdown two weeks ago and the New York Jets' Chris Johnson posted 105 rushing yards last week. Coach Joe Philbin cited poor tackling as being at the root of the issues. Linebacker Jelani Jenkins is Miami's leading tackler.



RAVENS: Team officials can only hope this unit has bottomed out. In four November games, the Ravens allowed 1,239 yards and 13 touchdowns through the air. They are allowing 273.9 passing years per game, the second most in the NFL. The return of cornerback Asa Jackson, out since early October, should help, but the Ravens badly need better play from their safeties. The Ravens sacked Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill six times in last season's meeting.

DOLPHINS: Like the Ravens, the Dolphins have dealt with several injuries on the back end but they've still held the opposition to 198.2 passing yards per game, the second lowest total in the league. That's even more impressive when you consider that the Dolphins have faced top offenses like the New England Patriots, Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers. Cornerback Brent Grimes is second in the NFL with five interceptions. Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon have combined for 15 sacks.




RAVENS: The Ravens wish that they weren't settling for so many field goals but Justin Tucker is at least making them count by hitting 13 straight attempts. He's made 25-of-28 for the season and he beat the Dolphins with a game-winning 44-yarder last season. Jacoby Jones continues to lead the NFL with an average of 31.5 yards per kickoff return. He's not been as successful returning punts. Punter Sam Koch and the Ravens' coverage teams have been typically reliable.

DOLPHINS: The Dolphins have blocked four kicks this season (two punts and two field goals) and 12 since 2010. Their special teams units have several other standouts. Punter Brandon Fields is averaging 46.7 yards per punt, the third highest mark in NFL history. Landry is third in the NFL with an average of 29.8 per kickoff return. Kicker Caleb Sturgis is 24-of-29 on field-goal attempts. The Dolphins have struggled at times to cover kicks and punts.



RAVENS: Several players called this a must-win game and the Ravens have been clutch in such scenarios under John Harbaugh. The Ravens are 4-0 against the Dolphins under Harbaugh with three of those victories coming in Miami. For all the focus on the team's play away from M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens are averaging 27.5 points in their six road games, the third highest road point total in the league. Penalties have been problematic recently and Ngata's absence could be a game changer.

DOLPHINS: Philbin's team has soundly beaten the Patriots and Chargers and lost by a field goal to the Packers and Broncos, The Dolphins play to their strengths, create turnovers and are one of the least penalized teams in the NFL. They've won five of their past seven games as they eye a postseason berth for the first time since 2008. They have had issues finishing games as they've been outscored 82-64 in the fourth quarter. But they came back in the fourth quarter to beat the Jets last week.



Beyond even the 7-5 records, these two teams are evenly matched. Flacco and Tannehill have both thrown 20 touchdown passes while Tannehill has tossed nine interceptions to Flacco's eight. The Ravens have scored 328 points and allowed 242 while the Dolphins have tallied 301 while surrendering 232. They have nearly identical time of possession and sack numbers. But the edge has to go to the home team even though the Ravens have had success at Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins' defense will provide much more resistance than the Ravens have encountered lately and their offense is plenty good enough to take advantage of a weak Ravens' secondary.

Dolphins, 21-20

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