The Baltimore Ravens won a very close battle against the Miami Dolphins, and now they turn their attention to the Green Bay Packers, who will visit the M&T Bank Stadium in Week 6. In case you missed it, here is the most important Ravens news from the weekend.
|Baltimore Ravens||3-2||vs. Green Bay Packers|
|Cincinnati Bengals||3-2||at Buffalo Bills|
|Cleveland Browns||3-2||vs. Detroit Lions|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||0-4||at New York Jets|
There is a three-way tie for first place in the AFC North, and the Pittsburgh Steelers aren't even in the conversation. The Ravens are coming off of a Super Bowl, and the Steelers are winless—it's a good time to be a Ravens fan, regardless of Baltimore's offensive struggles.
Pittsburgh is most probably already eliminated from playoff contention, but no AFC North team has looked particularly convincing or consistent. The Steelers will look to get their first win of the season when they play the New York Jets.
The Cleveland Browns have won three in a row since the Trent Richardson trade, but their third win came at the price of losing Brian Hoyer for the season. In all likelihood, the Browns fairy tale is over.
They host the Detroit Lions this week, and their next four games after that are: Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals. Their defense is elite and can keep them in those games (especially against the division rivals), but they could easily lose all five of those games.
The Bengals take on the Buffalo Bills this week, and they'll try to avoid the fate that befell the Ravens in the same spot.
In Baltimore, don't let the .500 record of the Green Bay Packers fool you. Their offense is extremely dangerous, and the Ravens secondary will be tested by Aaron Rodgers and his three great receivers.
|Player||Injury||Week 6 Status|
|Jacoby Jones||Sprained MCL||Questionable|
|Kelechi Osemele||Back spasms||Day-to-day|
|Brandon Stokley||Groin strain||Questionable|
Baltimore came out of its win relatively unscathed. Kelechi Osemele left with back spasms, but he was the only player who was unable to finish the game.
The Ravens were short-handed, however, and will be looking to get some players back from injury.
Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com reports that Osemele's back is feeling better, and the coaching staff is going to take it one day at a time.
At wide receiver, Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown were both close to playing against the Dolphins, and they'll be monitored in practice as the week goes on.
None of the Ravens who were recovering from injuries showed any signs of lingering problems. Ray Rice looked explosive, Lardarius Webb's hamstring didn't affect his performance and the two rookies (Arthur Brown and Brandon Williams) both look fully recovered from their respective injuries.
What Must Improve
Just because you have a durable quarterback, it doesn't mean you can let him take the punishment that Joe Flacco did in Week 5. He was sacked twice and hit seven times, but many of those hits were of the bone-crushing variety.
This #Ravens offensive line is so awful right now that you fear for the health of Joe Flacco. He's as durable as they come, but man...— Luke Jones (@BaltimoreLuke) October 6, 2013
Pro Football Focus (subscription required) calculates that Flacco is under pressure on 40.1 percent of his dropbacks, the ninth-highest figure in the league. That has to change for the Ravens to improve.
The insertion of Eugene Monroe into the starting lineup will probably improve the pass-blocking since Bryant McKinnie was the worst offender against Miami.
It wasn't just McKinnie, however, and the entire offensive line needs to step up its pass protection to give Flacco enough time in the pocket to make his reads and let plays develop.
Packers LB Clay Matthews still is undergoing more testing, but he is expected to miss one month with a broken thumb.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 7, 2013
As discussed in the injury report, they didn't sustain any major injuries, but they were missing some key pieces.
Flacco could suddenly find himself with a well-stocked larder of receivers, with the potential returns of Jacoby Jones, Marlon Brown and Brandon Stokley (who will be re-signed, according to Jason La Canfora on Twitter).
Baltimore will need to be at full strength on offense to beat Green Bay.
Sam Koch was not good against Miami. Like Justin Tucker's Week 2 performance against the Cleveland Browns, it was an anomaly, but it needs to improve moving forward. With a defense that can shut down opposing offenses, it's vital to win the battle of field position.
All the hoopla surrounding the Ravens running game is somewhat deserved because it was something that every Ravens fan and player was waiting for.
Despite that fact, they cannot afford to rest on their laurels, especially because those laurels aren't particularly impressive. They gained over 100 yards on the ground for the first time all year, but they did so with an average of 3.3 yards per carry.
The run blocking looked much better than it has all year, but there is still room for improvement.