RAVENS: In three starts at home, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has completed 63.9 percent of his pass attempts and thrown six touchdown passes and one interception. In two starts on the road, he's completed 59.4 of his passes with one touchdown and two interceptions. The Ravens' quest to become a better road team starts with Flacco getting off to quicker starts and the offensive line doing a better job of protecting him. The Ravens are optimistic that today could be the day for wide receiver Torrey Smith's breakout.
BUCCANEERS: Second-year quarterback Mike Glennon never was given a chance to earn the starting job after the team signed veteran Josh McCown in the offseason. But McCown got hurt, Glennon became the starter again, and all of a sudden Tampa Bay beat the Pittsburgh Steelers and took the New Orleans Saints to overtime. Glennon has completed 58.2 percent of his passes and thrown five touchdown passes. Vincent Jackson, his go-to receiver, gets a likely matchup with Jimmy Smith.
RAVENS: Coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak took some heat last week after the Ravens ran the ball only 15 times in the loss to the Indianapolis Colts. This week, expect them to try to establish the ground game early and stick with it in an attempt to wear down the Buccaneers. Harbaugh said the Ravens have no plans to take away carries from current starter Justin Forsett, but he also wants to give Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro more opportunities.
BUCCANEERS: With Doug Martin back from injury and Bobby Rainey and Mike James behind him, the Buccaneers running attack looked to be formidable this season. However, Tampa Bay hasn't run the football consistently, and it ranks 24th in the NFL with an average of 90.4 rushing yards per game. Coach Lovie Smith said Martin remains the starter, but he's gaining just 2.5 yards a carry. Rainey, a former Raven, has been more effective gaining yards but has lost three fumbles.
RAVENS: There's been a big gain against it on the ground from time to time, but stopping the run remains one of this team's few constants. The Ravens' rush defense ranks eighth in the league, allowing 89.4 yards per game on the ground. They've yet to allow a 100-yard rusher this season. First-round pick C.J. Mosley ranks sixth in the league with 49 tackles, and his play has helped offset some inconsistency by fellow inside linebacker Daryl Smith.
BUCCANEERS: To run successfully against the Buccaneers, the Ravens will have to control defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and weak-side linebacker Lavonte David, two of the best players in the league at their positions. David had 283 tackles to go along with nine sacks and six interceptions in his first two seasons, and he is fourth in the league with 52 stops. But the Buccaneers have surrendered more rushing touchdowns (six) than any team except the Arizona Cardinals.
RAVENS: Cornerback Lardarius Webb is expected to return to the starting lineup after a toe injury suffered by Asa Jackson. Webb was targeted often by the Colts, and he'll undoubtedly be tested again today. Rookie safety Terrence Brooks should be on the field for more snaps as the Ravens look to create turnovers on the back end. Only five teams are allowing more passing yards per game than the Ravens, and only four teams have fewer sacks. Rush linebacker Terrell Suggs has just 11/2 sacks in his past 13 games.
BUCCANEERS: Tampa Bay has been gouged repeatedly through the air, allowing 292.2 passing yards per game, third highest in the league. That's a huge disappointment for a team that gave out big contracts to cornerback Alterraun Verner and Dashon Goldson, and used the seventh overall pick in 2012 on safety Mark Barron. Defensive end Michael Johnson, who the Ravens know well from his days with the Cincinnati Bengals, will challenge James Hurst on the edge.
RAVENS: It will be interesting to see whether the Ravens stick with Jacoby Jones, who turned the ball over last week, or choose to have Webb handle punt-return duties. Either way, they badly need to get a boost from their return game. Jones has been a nonfactor since the season-opening loss to the Bengals. The Ravens also want to eliminate some of the silly penalties they've taken on special teams.
BUCCANEERS: Buccaneers rookie kicker Patrick Murray is 4-for-5 this season, and he's shown a strong leg, making a 55-yard field goal last week. Michael Koenen is last in the league with an average of 42.5 yards per punt and is also near the bottom of the league in punts inside the 20. Solomon Patton is Tampa Bay's primary returner. Buccaneers long snapper Andrew DePaola is a Parkton native and was a star quarterback at Hereford.
RAVENS: Two areas of continuing concern for the Ravens are the rash of injuries they've suffered and their play on the road. They'll face the Buccaneers without their starting tight end and left tackle, and minus a starting defensive end and cornerback. The Ravens are 1-1 on the road this season, but they have won just three of their past nine regular-season contests away from M&T; Bank Stadium. Under Harbaugh, the Ravens are 16-9 against NFC teams, including 1-0 against Tampa Bay.
BUCCANEERS: Three of the Buccaneers' four losses were decided by six points or fewer, and they took the Saints to overtime before falling last week, so they are clearly showing improvement. But the numbers don't lie. They have the 30th-ranked offense and the 30th-ranked defense. They have committed 42 penalties, double the number the Ravens have been called for this season. They also have a minus-two turnover ratio and have yet to win a game at home in two tries this season.
The Ravens have done little to inspire confidence on the road over the past two seasons, but they should be able to handle the Buccaneers. In fact, this should be the perfect week for the Ravens to get their offense back on track and find the balance that eluded them last week against the Colts. The loss to Indianapolis was disappointing. A loss to the 1-4 Buccaneers would be disastrous with road games coming up against the Bengals and Steelers. The bet here is that the Ravens won’t let it happen, improving to 4-2 with a solid, all-around effort.