Baltimore Ravens: What You Need to Know Heading into Week 13

Shehan Peiris@@shehan_peiris_Correspondent IIINovember 26, 2013

The Baltimore Ravens put together their first complete game of the season in a 19-3 rout of the New York Jets. They'll need to build on that performance in a crucial Thanksgiving night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers this week.

This rivalry is always about pride, but there is much more on the line in Week 13. Both teams have underwhelmed this year, but they are still in the thick of the playoff race. Here is the most important information as we prepare to enjoy a critical prime-time game on Thanksgiving.

Oh, what a game to be thankful for!


Division Standings

AFC North Standings
TeamRecordNext Game
Cincinnati Bengals7-4At San Diego Chargers
Pittsburgh Steelers5-6At Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens5-6Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Cleveland Browns4-7Vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Cincinnati Bengals were on a bye in Week 12, and it allowed the Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers to pick up half a game on the division leaders.

Pittsburgh has come roaring back from its horrific start to the year to pull level with Baltimore, and the Steelers are currently ahead of the Ravens in the standings due their Week 7 victory.

That makes the upcoming turkey day battle even more important than a normal rivalry game for the men from Baltimore.

AFC Wild-Card Race
Wild Card 1Kansas City Chiefs9-2
Wild Card 2Tennessee Titans5-6
3Pittsburgh Steelers5-6
4Baltimore Ravens5-6
5San Diego Chargers5-6
6New York Jets5-6
7Miami Dolphins5-6

Week 12 was good for the Ravens' playoff hopes. Both the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets (previously 5-5) lost, and Baltimore is primed to climb into the second wild-card spot if it can beat Pittsburgh this week.


Injury Report

Week 13 Injury Report
PlayerInjuryPractice Status (As of Monday)
Chris CantyShoulderLimited Participant
Brynden TrawickAnkleDid Not Practice

Chris Canty and Brynden Trawick are the only Ravens that had injury concerns in practice on Monday, according to Canty briefly left the game against the Jets, but he returned to the game, so his limited participation is likely a precautionary measure.


What Must Improve

Run Game

Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce couldn't find any running lanes against the New York Jets and their best run defense in the league. That wasn't surprising due to the season-long dominance of the New York front seven, but the matchup on Thanksgiving night is much more favorable for Baltimore's ground game.

The Ravens weren't able to take advantage of a shaky run defense in Week 7, but the running game showed some signs of life against the Chicago Bears.

Run Defenses of Ravens Opposition
OpponentRushing Yards Allowed Per GameProFootballFocus Run Defense GradeNFL Rank
Chicago Bears145.2-68.832
New York Jets72.6+90.81
Pittsburgh Steelers118.8-10.023

Part of that was due to an awful Bears run defense, but the play-calling was better, the offensive line was much more effective and Rice looked explosive (like on the 47-yard gain from his first carry of the game).

Pittsburgh has had problems against the run, so this is a perfect opportunity for Baltimore to build on its success against Chicago.

In a hugely important game on national television, the Ravens can't afford for their offense to be one-dimensional.


Red-Zone Efficiency

The Ravens had been one of the better teams in the league at converting their red-zone trips into touchdowns, but they failed to find the end zone in their four forays into the red zone.

Luckily for Joe Flacco and the offense, the New York Jets were completely incapable of moving the ball. That won't be the case against a Pittsburgh team that is averaging 29 points in its past three contests.

The offense needs to be able to score, and the Ravens can't settle for field goals when they get into the red zone.



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