Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco looks for a receiver during a 2012 preseason game against the Jaguars at M&T Bank Stadium.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco looks for a receiver during a 2012 preseason game against the Jaguars at M&T Bank Stadium. (Baltimore Sun)


RAVENS: Quarterback Joe Flacco is three touchdown passes away from tying his career high of 25 and he's on pace to throw for more than 4,000 yards for the first time in his career. In his past five games, he's thrown eight touchdown passes and two interceptions. The Ravens are averaging 240.8 passing yards per game, which would represent their highest season average since 1996. With Torrey Smith ailing, Kamar Aiken has nine catches for 116 yards and a touchdown over the past two weeks.


JAGUARS: It's been a rough rookie season for quarterback Blake Bortles, the No. 3 overall NFL draft pick. Since taking over for veteran Chad Henne, Bortles has thrown 16 interceptions compared to 10 touchdown passes and been sacked 38 times in 11 games. The Jaguars have surrendered 54 sacks, eight more than any other team. A young receiving group, led by Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee has shown flashes but Bortles hasn't had enough time to consistently get them the ball.



RAVENS: Justin Forsett was released by the Jaguars in March. His 1,080 rushing yards rank third in the NFL and are just 173 fewer than the Jaguars have as a team. Forsett has eight rushing touchdowns and 14 runs of 20 yards or more. That's more than 29 other teams have. When the Ravens need a big play, they usually run behind right guard Marshal Yanda, who is having one of the best seasons of his career. The Ravens have the second-most fourth quarter rushing yards in the league.

JAGUARS: Denard Robinson, the former quarterback at Michigan, had emerged as a nice story in a difficult year for the Jaguars. His 582 rushing yards led the team, but the Jaguars announced this week that he'd miss the rest of the season with a foot sprain. Toby Gerhart, who has been a disappointment since signing with the Jaguars this past offseason, will likely regain the lead role. But Robinson's injury leaves Bortles (306 yards) as the team's leading active rusher.



RAVENS: In the first game of Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata's four-game ban, the Ravens run defense was as formidable as ever, holding the Miami Dolphins to 63 rushing yards. Over the past two weeks, the Ravens have allowed just 127 total yards on the ground. Only three teams — the Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals and New Orleans Saints — have gained more than 100 yards rushing against them. Weak-side linebacker C.J. Mosley ranks sixth in the NFL with 113 tackles.

JAGUARS: Jacksonville is allowing 132.8 rushing yards per game, which ranks 28th in the NFL. They've also surrendered 14 rushing touchdowns, more than all but three NFL teams. In three of their past five games, they've been victimized by a 100-yard rusher, including the Houston Texans' Arian Foster going for 127 yards against them last week. Inside linebacker Telvin Smith, a rookie fifth-round pick, has been a pleasant surprise with 68 tackles.



RAVENS: The Ravens' pass rush took a lot of pressure off the beleaguered secondary last week, sacking Miami's Ryan Tannehill six times. The Ravens have 20 sacks over the past four games and Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs have combined for 13 of them. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees continues to mix up the personnel in the secondary, using multiple players and looks. They still rank 31st in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game (267.2).

JAGUARS: The strength of the Jaguars is their ability to get to the quarterback. The Jaguars have 39 sacks, third most in the NFL and two more than the Ravens have. Defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks is having a Pro Bowl season with 81/2 sacks and 13 tackles for loss. The Jaguars have four second-year players in their secondary, so there have been some growing pains, but Jacksonville is holding the opposition to a respectable 244.4 passing yards per game.




RAVENS: The Ravens committed three more specials teams penalties last week, drawing the ire of head coach John Harbaugh. Otherwise, this unit continues to be strong. The punt coverage team has been one of the league's most effective groups and Justin Tucker's long kickoffs have nullified opposing kickoff returns. Tucker hasn't missed a field goal since Oct. 12. Sam Koch's 42 punts are the fewest in the AFC but he's been solid when called upon.

JAGUARS: Kicker Josh Scobee has had a nice career, but this season hasn't been one of his best. He's made 15 of 19 field-goals and missed both attempts from beyond 50 yards. A third-round draft pick in 2012, punter Bryan Anger is fifth in the NFL with a 47.1-yard average per punt. He's had plenty of practice. His 76 punts are the second most in the league. Kick returner Jordan Todman is eighth in the NFL, averaging 25.6 yards per kickoff return. Ace Sanders is the Jaguars' punt returner.



RAVENS: There have been no worries about a letdown against an inferior opponent, not with the Ravens battling for a playoff spot. The Ravens are 4-2 at home and haven't lost more than two home games at M&T Bank Stadium in a single season since 2007. In four of those six home games, the Ravens have held the opposition to 10 points or fewer. A victory would clinch the Ravens' sixth winning season in the past seven years.

JAGUARS: Gus Bradley's team is 0-6 on the road this season and they've been outscored 180-81 in those games. They rank 31st in total offense and 27th in total defense. Their average margin of defeat in their 11 losses is 16 points. But they've played pretty tough against the AFC North, beating the Cleveland Browns and losing relatively close games to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals. They are the least penalized team in the NFL, so discipline hasn't been the issue.



It's been a while since the Ravens lost a home game to a subpar team and it's inconceivable to think that they'll allow it to happen Sunday with so much on the line. The Ravens offense is playing too well and the defense has a history of befuddling rookie quarterbacks. Throw in that the Jaguars struggle to protect their quarterback and can't stop the run and you have a potentially lopsided game. I'm not sure that it will be a complete laugher, but it should be a game that the Ravens control from beginning to end in moving one step closer to a postseason berth.

Ravens, 27-13

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