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Ravens-Dolphins scouting report

Ravens-Dolphins scouting report
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill drops back to pass against the Ravens as Elvis Dumervil (58) rushes. (Jim Rassol / Sun Sentinel)

Analysis of the Ravens and Dolphins offense, defense, special teams and intangibles.

PASSING GAME

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RAVENS: As the Ravens predicted it would, the play calling in a Matt Schaub-led offense looked extremely similar to a Joe Flacco-led offense. Schaub played well at times against the Cleveland Browns, but his two interceptions came on poor decisions and bad throws. He has to take better care of the ball. Ravens quarterbacks have been sacked twice in the past three games. The Ravens need more from wide receiver Chris Givens, who has three total catches the past two weeks.

DOLPHINS: Seeking to jumpstart an offense that coach Dan Campbell described as "anemic," the Dolphins fired coordinator Bill Lazor and promoted quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has thrown seven touchdown passes over the past three games, but the Dolphins need to be far better on third down — they rank 31st in league — and in pass protection. Tannehill has been sacked 33 times, the fourth most in the league. Wide receiver Jarvis Landry is a matchup nightmare. (EDGE: DOLPHINS)

RUNNING GAME

RAVENS: In the Ravens' first game this year without Justin Forsett, Buck Allen and Terrance West combined to rush for 92 yards on 19 carries. Allen also was a threat as a receiver. Still, with a mistake-prone Schaub at quarterback, the Ravens should be asking more from their running game. They are averaging 98.5 rushing yards per game, which ranks 18th in the NFL. Sunday could feature a heavy dose of Allen and West as the Dolphins have the 32nd-ranked run defense.

DOLPHINS: The Dolphins have struggled to run the ball all year, but they hit a low point in last week's loss to the New York Jets, when they were held to just 12 rushing yards on nine carries. Miami is averaging 91.7 rushing yards per game, which ranks 27th in the NFL. Lamar Miller has five rushing touchdowns and is averaging nearly 5 yards per carry, but 24 running backs have more carries than him. Rookie fifth-round NFL draft pick Jay Ajayi has flashed talent in limited work. (EDGE: RAVENS)

RUSH DEFENSE

RAVENS: Teams are abandoning the run on the Ravens earlier and earlier in games. The Browns handed the ball off to their running backs just 14 times on Monday and got 34 total yards. The Ravens rank eighth against the run, allowing just 93.9 yards on the ground. They've also surrendered just one rushing score over the past four games. Nose tackle Brandon Williams could be in line for a big day with Dolphins starting center Mike Pouncey dealing with a foot injury.

DOLPHINS: How does a team that signed defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to a six-year, $114 million contract in March to join other veterans up front have the league's worst run defense? Poor tackling, bad angles to the ball carrier and losing one-on-one battles are a few of the reasons. Miami has given up more than 120 yards rushing in seven of 11 games. The Ravens ran the ball at will against the Dolphins in last year's meeting, gaining 183 yards and scoring two rushing touchdowns. (EDGE: RAVENS)

PASS DEFENSE

RAVENS: The Ravens had taken some positive steps on the back end in recent weeks, but they reverted to their mistake-prone ways against the Browns. Josh McCown and Austin Davis threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns and the Ravens didn't force any turnovers. Teams are spreading the Ravens out and attacking inside linebackers C.J. Mosley and Daryl Smith in pass coverage. The Ravens have sacked Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill 12 times in the past two meetings.

DOLPHINS: The season-ending Achilles tendon injury to defensive end Cameron Wake has left a significant void for the Dolphins. But they still have Suh to collapse the pocket from the middle and defensive end Olivier Vernon is an accomplished pass rusher. Safety Reshad Jones is a magnet to the ball and ranks fourth in the NFL with 98 tackles. Brent Grimes is their best cornerback, but he hasn't always played like it this year. (EDGE: DOLPHINS)

SPECIAL TEAMS

RAVENS: Dolphins coach Dan Campbell said this past week that the Ravens have the best special teams in the league. The numbers support such a claim. The Ravens have blocked a kick in five straight games, the first team to do that since the 1983 Atlanta Falcons. Sam Koch leads the league with a 44.3 net punting average. Justin Tucker leads the league in touchbacks and has made three game-winning field goals this year.

DOLPHINS: Miami has an all-rookie kicking battery with Andrew Franks doing the place kicking and Matt Darr handling the punting. Franks is 8 of 10 on field-goal attempts this season while Darr ranks third in the NFL with a 47.9 gross punting average. The Dolphins haven't gotten a whole lot from their return game. Since the start of last season, the Dolphins have blocked six kicks, tied for a league-high with the Philadelphia Eagles during that span. (EDGE: RAVENS)

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INTANGIBLES

RAVENS: The Ravens have beat the Dolphins five straight times and they've won at Sun Life Stadium in back-to-back years. While their flaws remain on display every week, the Ravens do seem to be picking up some confidence in winning three of their past four games. Another week of repetitions should help Schaub, who had a few timing issues with center John Urschel and his receivers last week. The Ravens still have the second worst turnover ratio (minus-10) in the NFL.

DOLPHINS: The firing of Joe Philbin and the promotion of Campbell brought immediate energy. The Dolphins had two dominant wins under Campbell in his first couple of games, but reality has sunk in again. This is a turnover and penalty-prone team that lacks balance on both sides of the ball and hasn't gotten its top players to perform like stars. Miami has lost four of its past five games and been outscored 131-58 in the process. There are only so many coaching changes that you can make to provide a spark. (EDGE: RAVENS)

PREDICTION

By now, the only near-certainty in Ravens games is that the outcome will be in doubt until the very end. The Ravens' seven losses have been by 32 points and their four wins by a total of 15. Their past four games have been decided with no time on the clock. Thus, forecasting their games has become a total crapshoot. Still, the bet here is that the offensive coordinator change temporarily buoys the Dolphins and a more confident and assertive Tannehil is the difference in the game. DOLPHINS, 26-20

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