Special thanks to Bruce Raffel, Editor of Baltimore Beatdown, for answering this week's questions:
1.) Let's start with Terrell Suggs...I didn't watch their loss to the Steelers last week, but it sounded like Suggs was really struggling out there. Even if he does suit up Sunday (very likely), it's safe to say he'll be a shell of himself, right?
It's been tough to say what his contribution has been. While he returned with a bang in his first game, his numbers have been down since. However, his value is that he is still garnering a ton of attention out there, leading to other players stepping up their games, which makes him well worth being in there as much as possible. (See my recent article on this exact topic: http://www.baltimorebeatdown.com/2012/12/4/3726702/has-suggs-been-invisible-lately .)
2.) Joe Flacco's QB rating throughout the season reads like an EKG chart. Losses at the Eagles, at home to Charlie Batch, the pounding at HOU...can you put a finger on why that is? Can we expect more struggles on the road at Fedex Field?
It all depends on the pressure you put on him. Under pressure, we say here that he folds like a lawn chair and has pretty poor pocket presence with bad footwork. However, if he gets time, he has among the strongest arms in the league and can make every throw in the book.) Cam Cameron seems to be the Andy Reid of the AFC.
3.) Do you feel Ray Rice is not getting the ball enough and what would you like to see the offense run this week?
I doubt if Andy Reid is as deplored in Philly as Cameron is in Baltimore. The stats show how valuable Ray Rice is and what happens with our record when he gets his touches. I'd love to see Rice run the ball 20 times and get around 4-6 receptions to keep the Skins defense on its toes, thereby allowing more play action for the passing game.
4.) What's the state of the Ravens front 7 with Ray Lewis out?
The front 7 has done pretty well, since Ray was more of a Field General than a major force. He always is in the vicinity of the ball since no one in the NFL watches tape and prepares like he does. He directs the players and seems to call out the offense's plays before the snap is even made. Jameel McClain has not played well, but Dannell Ellerbe has been huge although he missed the Steelers game, but should be back Sunday. The Ravens need to put pressure on RG3 and contain his outside running lanes.
5.) What's your score prediction and predictions for RGIII's and Flacco's stat lines?
I like the Ravens 27-24, as the good news is that Baltimore rarely plays two bad games in a row (as noted in this recent story: http://www.baltimorebeatdown.com/2012/12/6/3734208/nfl-is-a-bounce-back-league ). RG3 will get his run yards, but I can see his passing stats including a pick or two, which could set up Flacco (and hopefully Rice) on short fields. Griffin getting 225 passing yards and Flacco with around 200 but 2 TD passes, with the key being 100+ yards for Rice and a TD run as well.