The 4-2 Baltimore Ravens, who enjoyed a demolition job on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, which included scoring 28 points in the first quarter alone, host the 2-4 Atlanta Falcons who are fading away fast this season and currently suffering a three game losing streak.
The Baltimore Ravens will be looking to keep themselves in the AFC North race, where the division is so tight a single loss or win could change the entire complexity of the division. Leading the Ravens on offense after the release of Ray Rice following his controversial personal life issues, is former Super bowl MVP quarterback Joe Flacco. The seventh year quarterback is enjoying a good start to the season. While his stats may not be mind-blowing, boasting 12 TDs, 1,596 yards, and only three interceptions for a quarterback rating of 97.8, it will be enough to hurt the sloppy and so far weak defense of the Atlanta Falcons. The quarterback will have the aid of a dynamic receiving core with Steve Smith, Torrey Smith, and tight ends Owen Daniels and Dennis Pitta. Steve Smith who moved to the side from the Carolina Panthers in the summer, has quickly become a firm favourite of Flacco having 35 receptions in comparison to Torrey Smiths 15. Smith Sr. boasts 573 yards and 4 touchdowns with his receiving partner boasting 227 yards and 3 touchdowns.
But it is the resurgence in the running game after the departure of Ray Rice which is something Baltimore Head Coach John Harbaugh will be very happy with. Justin Forsett has been given the ball 64 times on the ground averaging 6.4 YPC on his way to 408 yards and three touchdowns.
Defensively, the Ravens boast stats superior to the Falcons in every category. The Ravens on average concede 58 yards less than the Falcons per game, allow an average of 60 less rushing yards per game, and an average of 12 less points allowed per game.
All of this steady offensive power, alongside a steady defense, will prove difficult to manage for the Atlanta Falcons, who have lost ten of their last eleven games away from the Georgia Dome and have lost the last three games home and away. The bizarre thing for the Atlanta Falcons is that their high powered offense has stumbled and stalled in the last couple of weeks. If you look at Matt Ryan’s stats, it does not tell the true story, as he is sitting pretty yardage wise with 1,850 yards and 12 touchdowns, but that is brought back down to earth with his 7 interceptions. The only player who has stood out offensively for the Falcons is not Julio Jones, as many expected, but little used running back Antone Smith a man who must be given more touches if the Falcons are to succeed to any degree. The running back has had 13 carries so far this season averaging 9.7 YPC and has 2 touchdown, but he also offers a lot as a backfield receiver. He has 10 receptions this season for 220 yards averaging 22 YPC and contributing three touchdowns.
All in all, the Falcons are not good enough this season, Mike Smith seems unable to motivate his receiving corps, which was voted the second best receiving core in the NFL by NFL.com, yet they are struggling to contribute. Defensively, the young CBs Alford and Trufant are being made to look average as teams pass over their heads but there is little the two CBs can do with the lack of puss rushing the front line has to offer for the Falcons side with just 6 sacks in as many games, but in general the defense just does not make plays.
The Falcons will struggle Sunday against an improving Ravens side. Being away from home only makes things worse for the NFC South side and expect the Ravens to pull away during the fourth quarter.