Baltimore has no time to worry about last week’s loss. The Ravens (3-1) need to get back to winning. Their next opponent is their Beltway rival, the Redskins (2-2), who are on a two-game winning streak.
If Baltimore wants to avoid their second straight loss at home, their offensive line has to step it up. Although Joe Flacco was only sacked twice last week, he was on the move all day against Oakland, which forced Flacco to improvise on most plays.
That’s not going to fly against Washington, who have linebacker Ryan Kerrigan returning from injury.
Flacco didn’t throw an interception last week, much improved from his first three games. But he didn’t take many deep shots either, which is something he needs to do against Washington’s weak secondary outside of Josh Norman.
The receiver Norman will most likely cover is Steve Smith, Sr., a fiery individual who will probe an intriguing battle. Smith needs to beat Norman one-on-one for the Ravens’ passing attack to reach its full potential against the Redskins.
The Ravens will also need another solid performance from running back Terrance West, who was surprisingly effective last week behind a dismal offensive line. If West can make an impact early, “Joe Cool” won’t have to carry the Ravens’ offense all by himself.
Mike Wallace has officially become a threat to opposing defenses since he came to Baltimore. If Wallace has another big day, Washington’s secondary will be on its heels. Smith and Wallace are becoming a dangerous one-two punch, which should give Redskins’ defensive coordinator Joe Barry headaches.
Even if Flacco has trouble getting the ball to Smith and Wallace, he should have no problem getting the ball to his security blanket, tight end Dennis Pitta, who has roared back from an injury.
If Baltimore’s offense sputters, the defense will have to pick up the slack, which hasn’t been an issue in 2016.
The Ravens’ defense needs to shift their focus to Redskins’ tight end Jordan Reed, who went for 73 yards and two touchdowns against the Browns a week ago. If the Ravens can keep Reed out of the end zone, they should be in good shape.
Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson didn’t have much of an impact last week, but that doesn’t mean the Ravens’ secondary can sleep on them as Jackson is still one of the fastest receivers in the NFL.
Baltimore’s front seven has been ferocious thus far, and will need to have another stellar performance in order to shut down Redskins’ running back Matt Jones, who ran all over the Browns last week.
Kirk Cousins has thrown four interceptions in four games this season. If Baltimore can capitalize on defensive turnovers, the Redskins will be forced to play catch-up for the entire ballgame.
It’s possible this game could go down to the wire, which Baltimore should be fine with because the Ravens have arguably the best kicker in the game. If Baltimore needs some late-game heroics, Justin Tucker will surely step up, as he hasn’t missed a field goal yet in 2016.
In Week 3 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tucker nailed a 54-yard field goal to prevail the Ravens, 19-17. Baltimore will have no issue letting Tucker be the hero for the second time in three weeks.
Prediction: Ravens over Redskins 31-28 (OT)