Can the Ravens make a rare trip to Chicago pay off?

Can the Ravens make a rare trip to Chicago pay off?
November 17, 2013, 7:00 am

Suggs, Ravens embrace role as villians

GAME DAY EARLY BIRD: Waking up with the Ravens before today’s game against the Bears.

Two-minute topic: Can the Ravens make a rare trip to Chicago pay off?

CHICAGO – The Ravens haven’t played at Soldier Field since 2005, when they lost 10-6 to the Bears. Joe Flacco was still in college. John Harbaugh was an assistant coach with the Eagles.

To leave Chicago with a victory Sunday, the Ravens may need their best road game of the season. They are just 1-4 on the road, their lone victory coming against the Dolphins. Last season the Ravens were road warriors, winning at Denver and New England on their way to the Super Bowl.

It takes a certain swagger to win consistently on the road, an ability to shake off mistakes and momentum changes. The Ravens haven’t shown that quality yet this season. They have played hard on the road, but not well. Their offense has usually gotten off to slow starts. Their defense has not been able to get off the field in key moments.

The Bears are beatable at home, and are coming off a home loss to the Lions. In some ways, the Ravens could not ask for a better time to face the Bears. They are starting a backup quarterback in Josh McCown, and while he has played well, he does not have arm strength of starter Jay Cutler. The Bears are also banged up on defense, missing linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder) and cornerback Clarence Tillman (knee), which followed season-ending injuries linebacker D. J. Williams, and defensive tackle Henry Melton.

[RELATED: Game Preview: Ravens at Bears ]

The weather forecast is calling for rain, the field may be sloppy, but regardless of the conditions, the Ravens (4-5) need a victory. So do the Bears (5-4). Both teams would be out of the picture if the playoffs started today. The Ravens won’t be in the playoffs unless they start winning road tests like this one.

Morning thought: “Most teams tend to play better at home – who knows? I’m not worried about that. We’ve just got to go out there – I don’t care who we are playing – and we’ve just got to get a win.” – Joe Flacco on the Ravens’ approach to Sunday’s game.

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