First and 10: Ten predictions for Ravens-Redskins

First and 10: Ten predictions for Ravens-Redskins
December 8, 2012, 11:00 pm
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1. Ray Rice will have 20 carries.
Rice’s workload is again a hot-button issue after he had 12 carries – and none in the fourth quarter – in the Ravens’ 23-20 loss to Pittsburgh. Rice’s workload has generally gone up each year in the final quarter of the season, and the Ravens will look to him often again. It could be tough sledding, though; the Redskins rank fourth in the league in rushing defense, allowing 91.5 yards a game.

2. Joe Flacco will throw for more than 200 yards.
The Ravens have won 15 straight games immediately after a loss, the longest such streak in the league. The key has been Flacco, who has generally been very sharp after a loss. He faces a Redskins defense that ranks 31st in passing defense. Flacco has another chance to quiet his critics.

3. Torrey Smith will have a catch of at least 30 yards.
The Redskins have allowed 10 plays of 40-plus yards this season, the second-most in the league. Flacco and Smith struggled to connect last week, with Flacco underthrowing Smith a few times when Smith got behind the Steelers defense. Expect them to try again against the Redskins. Smith also is dangerous if he can catch it in space, as he showed on his 54-yard catch-and-run against the Chargers.

4. Terrell Suggs will play.
Suggs and coach John Harbaugh have both been noncommittal this week about whether Suggs can play this week after sustaining a triceps injury against Pittsburgh. Suggs earlier this week said, “If you can breathe, you can play.” If Suggs does not suit up, this will mark the first time in nine years that neither Suggs nor Ray Lewis was in uniform for the Ravens.

5. RG3 will have a 20-yard run.
Whether Suggs plays or not, the Ravens have a huge challenge containing Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. It will fall on Suggs, Courtney Upshaw, Paul Kruger and other outside linebackers to set the edge and turn Griffith inside. If he gets to the corner, he will find a lot of running room.

6. The Redskins will rush for more than 150 yards.
The Ravens’ run defense has been improved over the past few weeks, improving to 23rd in the league. They face a huge challenge Sunday against RG3, running back Alfred Morris and the Redskins’ No. 1-ranked rushing offense. The Ravens will definitely be without linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, and Suggs is at less than 100 percent. Linebackers Jameel McClain and Albert McClellan will need to come up big.

7. Ravens will win the turnover battle.
Both teams rank near the top of the league in turnover margin – the Ravens are fifth at plus-13, the Redskins sixth at plus-11. Flacco had two poor turnovers last week, but his numbers in games after a loss are remarkable: since 2009 in such games, he has thrown 26 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Look for Ed Reed to try to bait RG3 into a mistake.

8. Jacoby Jones will have a return of 35-plus yards.
Jones is averaging 34.2 yards per kick return, second best in the league. Pittsburgh last week used squib kicks to try to keep it out of Jones’ hands, and the Redskins very will could do the same. But Jones is a big-play threat any time he touches the ball.

9. The lead will change hands in the fourth quarter.
The Ravens lost a fourth-quarter lead last week, and came from behind in the fourth quarter at San Diego two weeks ago. Look for another back-and-forth affair, and expect both teams to hold the lead at some point in the fourth quarter.

10. Redskins 29, Ravens 27
The Ravens last week had their streak of 15 straight home wins snapped. They come to FedEx Field with a different streak: a league-best 15 straight wins immediately after a loss. But they also come with a short-handed defense without Dannell Ellerbe, Ray Lewis and possibly Terrell Suggs against a strong offense playing at home and with a lot of confidence. The Ravens’ other streak ends today as RG3 and the Redskins prevail in a close one.