Scouting the Ravens
1 Which Flacco will show up? » There's not a quarterback in the league who's having a more up-and-down year than Joe Flacco. He has had a passer rating of 106.9 or better four times this season in wins over the Bengals, Patriots, Cowboys and Raiders. But he also has had a rating of 66.8 or worse four times, and the Ravens are 1-3 in those games. Running back Ray Rice's output used to be the determining factor in the outcome of Ravens games, but it seems as if Baltimore has become more reliant on the play of its fifth-year passer.
2 Not the same Ravens defense » Since 1999, the Ravens have been out of the top 10 in total defense only once (2002). But this year they rank 25th in total defense (372.2 yards per game), 23rd in pass defense (246.5 ypg) and 23rd in rush defense (125.8 ypg). Baltimore still has a top-10 scoring defense, allowing 20.2 points a game, but injuries have really hampered what has been the staple of the Ravens for years. A unit fueled by its linebacking corps has had Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis miss significant time.
3 Going for it all » The Ravens will take a few shots deep to Torrey Smith, a concern for a Redskins defense that has been susceptible to allowing big plays all year. To add to the concerns, Washington's secondary will be without cornerback Cedric Griffin because of a four-game suspension, and cornerback DeAngelo Hall is battling an ankle injury. Smith is fifth in the league in average yards per catch (17.4 yards), but the former Maryland receiver has just 42 receptions despite being targeted 92 times.
4 Trying to follow the rules » On Monday night at FedEx Field, the Giants -- who entered as the second-least penalized team in the league -- had a season-high nine penalties for 73 yards. Whether it was crowd noise, dumb mistakes by the Giants or pressure from the Redskins, penalties played a huge part in the outcome of Monday's game. This week it again could be a main storyline as Washington and Baltimore lead the league in penalty yards at 826 and 816, respectively.