Ravens beat reporter Jeff Zrebiec give his scouting report on Baltimore Ravens and the New York Jets game. (Baltimore Sun video)
RAVENS' PASSING GAME: The Ravens are still holding out hope that quarterback Joe Flacco's throwing shoulder feels good enough for him to play. If he does, he'll look to build upon a career-high 151 pass attempts since his last interception. He's also thrown just two touchdown passes over the past three weeks. The obvious impact of Marty Mornhinweg taking over play-calling duties was more deep shots. That should continue even if Ryan Mallett is at the helm. The Ravens are 27th in the league in third-down efficiency.
JETS' PASSING GAME: Coach Todd Bowles has finally seen enough of struggling starter Ryan Fitzpatrick, who threw 11 interceptions in six games. Some of Fitzpatrick's issues came by trying to force the ball to No. 1 receiver Brandon Marshall, especially after Eric Decker went down with a season-ending injury. Smith hasn't started a game since 2014 and he's thrown 36 career interceptions in 32 games. Marshall is the total package at receiver, but Quincy Enunwa leads the team with 30 receptions.
RAVENS' RUNNING GAME: Over the past two weeks, the Ravens have moved away from the running back-by-committee approach in favor of Terrance West getting the bulk of the carries. Ravens backs have 43 carries over the past two weeks and West has 34 of them. Over the past three games, West has averaged 98 yards rushing and has three touchdowns. With right guard Marshal Yanda likely out, the interior of the Ravens' offensive line will have its hands full against a tough Jets front.
JETS' RUNNING GAME: Matt Forte, the longtime Chicago Bears standout, was heralded as a free-agent steal for the Jets as he rushed for 261 yards and three touchdowns in his first three games with his new team. However, New York's running game has disappeared. In the last three games, Forte has 99 yards rushing and no touchdowns, and has averaged just 2.8 yards per carry. The Jets average 92.5 yards rushing per game, which ranks 21st in the NFL. Bilal Powell is a dangerous change-of-pace back.
RAVENS' RUSH DEFENSE: The Ravens moved up into the top spot for fewest rushing yards allowed when they held the New York Giants last week to 38 rushing yards on 17 carries despite the absence of middle linebacker C.J. Mosley. They are allowing only 69.7 rushing yards per game and they haven't given up a rushing score since Week 2. Opponents are also averaging only 3.4 yards per carry against them. Weak-side linebacker Zachary Orr has 50 tackles, 22 more than any other Raven.
JETS' RUSH DEFENSE: Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson lit up the Jets for 111 rushing yards and three scores Monday. That type of production on the ground has been rare against the Jets, who missed middle linebacker and tackling machine David Harris. Harris should return Sunday. With Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams, the Jets have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. They had the league's top-ranked rush defense before last week.
RAVENS' PASS DEFENSE: This group has gone from one of the team's bright spots to its biggest question mark. The pass-rush has been nonexistent lately and the Ravens won't have sack-leader Terrell Suggs, who has a torn left biceps. No other linebacker on the team has a sack. Eric Weddle continues to play well, but the Ravens need more from fellow safety Lardarius Webb, and for another reliable cornerback to emerge. Only six teams have given up more touchdown passes than the Ravens' 12.
JETS' PASS DEFENSE: Much of the attention has been on cornerback Darrelle Revis' perceived decline but the Jets have bigger concerns with this group. Fellow cornerback Buster Skrine was called for five penalties against the Cardinals. New York is also allowing 290 passing yards per game; only four teams are giving up more. Bowles loves to blitz, and he'll undoubtedly continue that strategy after watching the Ravens' struggles last week in picking up extra rushers against the Giants. Williams has a team-leading five sacks.
RAVENS' SPECIAL TEAMS: The Ravens cleaned up their punt coverage issues in last week's loss as Sam Koch pinned the Giants inside their 20 on three of his five punts. All six of Justin Tucker's kickoffs were touchbacks, more a sign of respect for Giants returner Dwayne Harris than a sign of things to come. Ravens coach John Harbaugh is less likely to give up the 25-yard line against a team with a struggling offense, like the Jets. The Ravens are still committing too many penalties on special teams.
JETS' SPECIAL TEAMS: The Jets haven't had too many issues on special teams. Veteran kicker Nick Folk has converted 11-of-12 field-goal attempts. He missed an extra point last month for the first time in his 10-year career. Rookie punter Lachlan Edwards hasn't been as impressive, and ranks in the lower tier of most punting categories. Jalin Marshall, an undrafted rookie out of Ohio State, handles both kick and punt return duties, averaging 7.7 yards per punt return and 25.7 on kickoff returns.
RAVENS' INTANGIBLES: Harbaugh expressed full confidence in his team this past week, and vowed to get some of the Ravens' issues resolved. The Ravens are tied for the league-lead in penalties, so that's certainly one area that has to be addressed. But the team remains extremely banged up, and there's no quick fix for a roster decimated by injuries. The Ravens have beaten the Jets eight straight times. With three straight losses and a bye next week, this is as close to a must-win game as it gets in October.
JETS' INTANGIBLES: Bowles' decision to bench Fitzpatrick appears to be a last-ditched effort to save the Jets' season. They've lost four games in a row by a total of 74 points, and they are seemingly coming apart. The Jets have been outscored 82-30 in second halves this season, spurring some questions about Bowles' ability to make adjustments. New York ranks dead last in the NFL with a minus-11 turnover ratio. They are also 0-2 at home this season. Expect an impatient MetLife Stadium crowd.
PREDICTION: Tough talk isn't going to fix the Ravens' problems. They need to get healthier, cut down on the weekly barrage of penalties and get far more consistent play from all three phases. A matchup with the reeling Jets, even on the road, is being treated as just the break the Ravens need. However, the Ravens are in a rut right now, and not even a struggling opponent can help get them out of it. The Ravens will take a four-game losing streak and all sorts of questions into their bye week.