3TFO: Ravens @ Redskins, Week 14
With the Baltimore Ravens losing a close one at home to the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, they failed to tighten their hold on the AFC North while seeing their home and divisional winning streaks come to an end. Perhaps more concerning was the fact that a team finally made the Ravens pay for a lacklustre performance.
Unlike their opponents this week, the Washington Redskins come into the game on the back of a huge divisional win. That victory sets up an exciting end to the season in the NFC East, with three teams still in the hunt for the division crown.
This inter conference matchup comes at the start of a hugely important four-game stretch to close the season for both teams. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the three key areas to focus on in the Battle of the Beltway.
Ravens Pass Rush vs. Redskins Offensive Line
Even before his latest injury it was clear that linebacker Terrell Suggs wasn’t at his best following his early return from his offseason Achilles injury. His return has helped the running game but, as a pass rusher, he has failed to consistently bring pressure since his incredible performance in his comeback game against the Houston Texans. With just 15 total pressures from 177 snaps as a pass rusher, he has a Pass Rushing Productivity (PRP) Rating of just 6.6. His return however, has appeared to spark Paul Kruger back into the pass rusher he has shown he can be, with 21 of his 35 pressures this season coming in the past four weeks. With seven sacks, 10 hits and 18 hurries on the season, Kruger will aim to maintain his PRP Rating of 10.6 even if Suggs is ruled out, allowing defenses to focus on him more again.
As a unit, the Redskins’ offensive line ranks 16th in the league with a Pass Blocking Efficiency (PBE) Rating of 79.9, with 103 pressures allowed from 399 passing plays. Left tackle Trent Williams has been particularly impressive, with just five quarterback knock downs (sacks and hits) allowed this season. Allowing a total of 18 pressures on 362 snaps as a pass blocker, Williams ranks 11th among offensive tackles with a PBE Rating of 96.1. Right tackle Tyler Polumbus however, has had his struggles on the opposite side, allowing 25 more total pressures than Williams. Only four offensive tackles have a lower PBE Rating than his at 91.6, with his 43 total pressures surrendered coming on 399 passing plays.
Ravens Wide Receivers vs. Redskins Cornerbacks
They may not be getting much help in the form of consistent quarterback play — though quarterback Joe Flacco continues to flash some brilliant throws in between stretches of poor play — but the Ravens’ wide receivers are doing everything they can to make life easier for their signal-caller. With just two drops all season, Anquan Boldin has the seventh best Drop Rate (3.51) among receivers who see at least 25% of their teams’ passes thrown to them. Teammates Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones can’t match that, with drop rates of 10.64 and 8.00 respectively, but both have been excellent deep threats for Flacco with Yards Per Reception averages of 18.0 and 13.6.
In the Washington defensive backfield, it’s a former Ravens player who leads the way in the form of Josh Wilson. He has allowed six touchdowns to be caught in his coverage this season, but also allows a reception just once every 11.7 snaps in coverage. Opposite him, DeAngelo Hall has allowed just one touchdown while pulling in four interceptions, however he allows a reception once every 8.9 snaps in coverage. Third corner Cedric Griffin has just been ruled out through suspension, taking with him the best Yards Per Coverage Snap average (1.19) between the three players with him.
Can RG3 Exploit the Edge?
Monday Night Football again highlighted just how dangerous the Redskins’ offense is with Robert Griffin III at the helm. As highlighted by his 46-yard run on 3rd-and-1 with 7:43 left in the third quarter, RG3 is an absolute nightmare for teams with his speed and ability to get to the outside. That’s of particular concern to a Ravens defense that has struggled to set the edge all year, and may be without Suggs again. Those struggles were highlighted on Johnathan Dwyer’s touchdown run for the Steelers on 2nd-and-7 with 11:34 left in the third quarter on Sunday. On that play Courtney Upshaw, who has been solid against the run this year, was beaten to the outside after Dwyer initially went up the middle. Mistakes like that will be punished by the speed of RG3, so the Ravens must maintain discipline at all times.
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