The Battle of the Beltway games between the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins always bring out a little extra from the fans. I'm not from the DMV, but I have experienced the hate towards Redskins fans at M&T Bank Stadium, and it's not pretty. Last year, the Redskins 2 game preseason winning streak was snapped by the Ravens in Baltimore. One again the Redskins travel North to give their starters a chance to shine vs the Ravens in the last significant playing time they will get before the regular season begins.
The biggest storyline for this game is obviously Robert Griffin III. The Redskins QB suffered a concussion during last week's game against the Detroit Lions. Griffin was hit on 6 of his 8 dropback attempts and took a beating behind an offensive line with two new starters on the right side(Scherff/Moses) and a journeyman LT(Smith) protecting his blindside. His quick recovery will give him the chance to play this week, and shake off the cobwebs against a team that gave him the most significant hit of his career in 2012.
Looking at the odds from SportsBookReview, the home team Ravens are favored by 4 points heading into tomorrow's game. Their take on Griffin's preseason is similar to the mood of many Redskins fans right now, Griffin's play needs to improve.
That said the No.1 quarterback's account in the preseason left much to be desired. Last week, he struggled mightily. Couldn't find his feet really as he went 2 of 5 for 8 yards on four possessions. He was sacked three times and fumbled twice before being taken off the field with a concussion.
And they point to the success of his backups, and many fans will agree that the backups have played well against other backups.
On the bright side, the backups were solid as the Redskins still managed to overcome the loss of RGIII and win. Colt McCoy stepped in and went 5 of 6 for 80 yards and a touchdown and Kirk Cousins went 8 of 12 for 91 yards and a touchdown.
Griffin was cleared by an independent neurologist yesterday and has been participating in practice all week. The plan is to play him for the majority of the first half, and this is a chance for Griffin to quiet some of the noise that has been intensifying from fans and media. Or give people more fuel to call for Kirk Cousins(or anyone else) to be the starting QB on opening day vs the Miami Dolphins.
The Redskins defense has held opposing teams to 17 points in each preseason game, and will look to continue that trend this week against the Ravens. Baltimore got Chip Kelly'd last week to the tune of a 40-17 beatdown. Afterwards, Head Coach John Harbaugh said that his team didn't gameplan for the Eagles' fast-paced offense, read option, etc, because they were still installing the basics. But they will gameplan for this game, and try to not get embarrassed by another NFC East opponent this week. The Redskins will once again be without Ryan Kerrigan, and the newly re-signed OLB will not play until the regular season to avoid injury. Trent Murphy, Preston Smith, Jackson Jeffcoat, and Houston Bates will all be looking to make plays against Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense after Junior Galette's season-ending Achilles injury this week.
The Ravens defense will try to break the Redskins current streak of 0 interceptions by any of their 3 QBs during the preseason. Terrell Suggs made a point to hit Eagles' QB Sam Bradford low during what the NFL determined was a read option play. He later said:
"When you run the read option, you've got to know the rules," Suggs said. "If you want to run the read option with your starting quarterback that's had two knee surgeries, that's on you. That's not my responsibility to update you on the rules, you see what I'm saying? I could have hit him harder than that. I didn't. I eased up."
Robert Griffin III, and any QB under center, will have to hope that the offensive line plays a little more consistently this week. And the offensive line is hoping for more consistency as well... The Redskins will once again be without WR DeSean Jackson who is still recovering from a shoulder injury, but will be ready for Week 1. Jordan Reed returns to the lineup at Tight End, and will be joined by the newest addition to the team, Derek Carrier. The Redskins will also look to their running game, with rookie Matt Jones turning heads in the preseason.
If you are so inclined to bet on preseason football, most gambling sites will be more than happy to accommodate you. The line currently has the Ravens favored by 3.5-4 points as the home team. The over/under for the game is set at 43.5 currently, and the under looks like a safe bet here with neither team lighting it up on offense. The Ravens defense did take a beating last week vs the Eagles, but don't expect a similar performance against the Redskins. The Ravens also gave up a special teams touchdown which would take a series of unfortunate events to happen from Washington's Special Forces. The Redskins are 2-0 ATS during preseason, with the Ravens 1-1 ATS this season.
Prediction: Ravens 24 - Redskins 17
Bets: Ravens -4, Under