No. 1: Can the Ravens fix their 26th-ranked defense?

The past couple of years, the demise of the Baltimore defense was predicted by some pigskin pundits. This year, the prophecies have come true, as the Ravens have allowed an average of 400 yards per game this season, which was 26th in the NFL through Week 7. Most alarming, they have given up 1,000 rushing yards in seven games -- an average of 142.9 that ranks 27th. "The next team is probably licking their chops," inside linebacker Jameel McClain said. So how can the Ravens stop the bleeding? Don't expect drastic changes. There may be a tweak or two to the starting lineup. But, no, defensive coordinator Dean Pees isn't going anywhere. The Ravens have prided themselves on stopping the run first to make teams one-dimensional before teeing off on opposing quarterbacks. To dominate up front instead of being dominated, defenders must get off blocks, plug the proper running lanes and tackle better, Harbaugh said. When it comes to the NFL's 23rd-ranked pass defense, the biggest key is creating a pass rush. The Ravens rank 22nd with 12 sacks, and the lack of consistent pressure has exposed a solid secondary to big plays. Getting outside linebacker Terrell Suggs back on the field should make quarterbacks feel a little more uncomfortable -- and maybe stall the demise of this proud unit. "We haven't played up to our standards," Kruger said. "We have the time now, and we have the ability to make those changes and kind of recreate our identity as a defense and as a team."
Thomas Campbell, US Presswire
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