Atlanta at Baltimore: Five Things to Know
The numbers 3 and 18.
Those two numbers will forever be linked between the Atlanta Falcons and the Baltimore Ravens. In 2008, those two numbers – first round draft picks – changed these two franchises.
The Falcons used the third overall pick to take Matt Ryan. The Ravens moved all around the draft board before it snagged Joe Flacco. The results we all know about. Flacco has won a Super Bowl in Baltimore on Ray Lewis’ last year in the NFL. Ryan is on the cusp of taking the next step toward being an elite NFL quarterback.
When the two meet on Sunday, it will only be the second time they have faced each other as professionals.
Ryan was on-point in the contest, completing 32-of-50 throws (64-percent) for 316 yards and three touchdowns, while Flacco went 22-of-34 (65-percent) for 215 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception.
Both 29-year-old quarterbacks were asked about their reunion this week; Ryan praised Flacco's success and recalled the 2008 NFL Draft experience as if it was yesterday, while Flacco echoed similar feelings.
"It's always fun to play Matt, just because we did come in together," Flacco said, via conference call. "It's a shame we're in opposite leagues, so we don't get to play each other that often. I know we've played a couple preseason games, but this is only the second time that we'll have played each other. It'd be a little bit cooler if we got to play each other more, but I always enjoy going up against the Falcons and seeing Matt close-up."
Here are five things you need to know about this matchup for Sunday’s game in Baltimore.
DOUGLAS WILL NOT PLAY
Wide receiver Harry Douglas has been ruled out for Sunday's game as the Falcons head to Baltimore. It will be his fourth straight game on the sidelines as he recovers from a foot injury.
On the positive side, all others who were listed on the injury report this week are listed as probable for Sunday's game, including WRs Devin Hester and Julio Jones.
A HISTORY LESSON
The Atlanta Falcons will be making only their second visit to Baltimore in the series history that started in 1999. The last time was in 2002 where the Falcons pulled out a win against the Ravens 20-17.
Atlanta will be making only its second visit to the Charm City in this regular season series since it started in 1999. Three of the four previous contests were at the Georgia Dome.
On November 3, 2002, the Falcons extended their winning streak to four in a row with a close 20-17 victory over the Ravens.
THE RAVENS MUST BE OFFENSIVELY CONSISTENT
Baltimore’s offense ranks eighth in yards per game (389.8). They’re ninth in rushing yards per game (132.8) and tied for sixth in rushing yards per attempt (4.7). In the most important statistic, they’re tied for fifth in points per game (27.3).
The Ravens have scored on 47.7 percent of their drives this season, the best mark in the NFL.
No team is going to score all the time. Every NFL defense is too talented to allow that. But one of the Ravens’ issues has been that when they’ve been cold, they’ve been ice cold.
In the Ravens’ Week 5 loss in Indianapolis, Baltimore started with a fumble on the opening drive and had just 287 total yards in the game. All but three of the Ravens’ drives lasted five plays or less.
Even if the Ravens can’t keep riding the highest of highs, they need to avoid the lowest of lows.
MONROE, OSEMELE ARE DOUBTFUL
The Ravens may have to stick with their young offensive line for another week.
Starting left tackle Eugene Monroe (knee) and left guard Kelechi Osemele (knee) are both listed as doubtful after sitting out Friday’s practice. That means undrafted rookie James Hurst will likely get his fourth-straight start at left tackle and fifth-round rookie John Urschel will start at left guard for the second week in a row.
Osemele was a limited participant in practice Wednesday and Thursday before sitting out Friday’s session. Monroe, who underwent knee surgery last month, practiced in a limited capacity Thursday for the first time since having the surgery. He also sat out Friday.
Despite Monroe and Osemele’s absence last week, the offensive line still had a strong game in a dominating overall performance by the offense, and the young linemen showed they can hold their ground with the veterans sidelined.
THE RETURN OF JERNIGAN
The Ravens could get rookie defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan back in the lineup this week, which would come at a key time for the hobbled defensive front.
The second-round pick returned to practice for the first time since Week 2, and he is listed as probable after being a full participant all week.
“I felt good about everything throughout the week in practice, going in and out different drills and everything,” Jernigan said Friday. “You will never play a game 100 percent healthy when you’re playing football.”
Jernigan’s return would give the Ravens some much-needed reinforcements, as defensive end Chris Canty (wrist infection) and defensive tackle Christ Bilukidi (ankle) have both been ruled out after missing the entire week of practice.