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!
|AFC North Standings|
|Cincinnati Bengals||7-4||At San Diego Chargers|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||5-6||At Baltimore Ravens|
|Baltimore Ravens||5-6||Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Cleveland Browns||4-7||Vs. 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 1||Kansas City Chiefs||9-2|
|Wild Card 2||Tennessee Titans||5-6|
|5||San Diego Chargers||5-6|
|6||New York Jets||5-6|
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.
|Week 13 Injury Report|
|Player||Injury||Practice Status (As of Monday)|
|Chris Canty||Shoulder||Limited Participant|
|Brynden Trawick||Ankle||Did Not Practice|
Chris Canty and Brynden Trawick are the only Ravens that had injury concerns in practice on Monday, according to BaltimoreRavens.com. 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
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|
|Opponent||Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game||ProFootballFocus Run Defense Grade||NFL Rank|
|New York Jets||72.6||+90.8||1|
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.
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.