After a thrilling performance on Monday Night Football against the defending champion New York Giants last week on Monday Night Football, Robert Griffin III and the Redskins will go for their fourth-straight win, at home against the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are 9-3, but it's a hairy 9-3, and they haven't faced a quarterback like RGIII before. Really, no one has faced a quarterback like RGIII before, except for the 11 teams he's already faced.
The Ravens are 9-3, but a delicate one. They lost to a Charlie Batch-led comeback by the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, and before that needed overtime and a miraculous fourth down conversion by Ray Rice to beat the woeful San Diego Chargers. The Steelers and Chargers were teams with no momentum, while the Redskins may be the hottest team in the league.
However, the Ravens didn't get to 9-3 by accident, so taking them lightly would be a mistake for the Redskins. It will be another raucous home crowd at FedEx Field, one of the biggest buildings in the league, and should be a thrilling game.
Meet the Redskins
The Redskins' recent success pretty much begins and end with Griffin. Sure, rookie running back Alfred Morris has been a revelation, and sure, the success of Griffin and Morris have been at least partly based on the performance of what was thought to be a weakness in the offensive line, but ask any opponent: Griffin is what makes this team so tough. His presence on the field makes it impossible for defense to key in on the run or pass, and his accuracy and decision-making consistently belies the fact that he's played just 12 NFL games.
On defense is where the Redskins can be exploited. Their pass defense, in particular, has been abysmal, and that won't be helped by the news that came down this week that cornerback Cedric Griffin would be suspended four games for performance-enhancing drug use. The defense has been playing better of late — the 'Skins allowed just 16 points against the Giants and six against the Eagles two weeks earlier — but it's still allowing 299 yards a game through the air.
Meet the Ravens
The Ravens are 9-3 and still in the driver's seat in the AFC North, but Ravens fans can't be feeling easy about the team's chances once they make the playoffs. The Ravens really only have two quality wins — over the Bengals in Week 1 and Patriots in Week 3 — and otherwise have looked vulnerable. They have been banged up, missing Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs for much of the year, but that hasn't explained why this team, near the top of many power rankings earlier in the season, has looked so average.
Much of that blame falls squarely on the broad shoulders of Joe Flacco, who looked ready to break out early in the season but has regressed as the season has progressed. In last week's loss to the Steelers, Flacco completed just 47 percent of his passes, and it was his third time in the last five games he's thrown for fewer than 200 yards. If the Ravens are going to hang with the 'Skins, Flacco needs to relocate that early season magic. Look for deep threat Torrey Smith, who should be playing in front of some hometown friends, to run free against the 'Skins woeful secondary.
Local Takes: Redskins
'Skins blogger UkRedskin at Hogs Haven had an incredibly detailed look at PIerre Garçon's performance over the past three weeks, notably how he's torching his guys.
Those yards after catch are a huge part of the reason the Redskins paid him so much money. From his 357 receiving yards so far this year, 225 have been after the catch. That is massively significant for the Redskins, who will need it to continue this week against the Ravens if they want to continue this push for the playoffs. But if Garcon plays, they have a good chance. When Garcon is in the team, the Redskins are 5-1, without Garcon the Redskins are 1-5. His contribution is extremely valuable to the Redskins hopes of winning.
Local Takes: Ravens
Baltimore Beatdown blogger Bruce Raffel took a look at the trend this year of good teams bouncing back after losses.
Last time Baltimore was embarrassed, in their week 7 44-13 blowout loss to the Houston Texans, they went on a four game winning streak until this past week's disappointment. A four-game winning streak to end the season would be the perfect turnaround for the team, and not only secure the AFC North title for the second year in a row, but also the #2 playoff seed and first round bye with at least one home playoff game.
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Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Hogs Haven and Baltimore Beatdown, for more analysis and highlights from the game.
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Why do ppl insist on asking if Ravens vs Redskins is a rivalry? It's not even close...we play each other every 4 years.— HogsHaven.com (@HogsHaven) December 9, 2012
106.7 The Fan Redskins beat writer Grant Paulsen
This is not your older brother's #Ravens defense. Baltimore ranks 25th in total defense, 23rd against the run, and 23rd against the pass.— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) December 6, 2012
Baltimore Sun Ravens reporter Jeff Zrebiec
Asked why team has gone away from no- huddle, Flacco says , "I don't know."— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) December 9, 2012
Simply put, the Redskins are on an absolute tear right now, and the Ravens 9-3 record appears to be somewhat of a mirage. RGIII has electrified Washington, DC, and another home game should mean another crowd of 90,000-plus fans making life miserable for the Ravens offense trying to hear play calls. The Ravens defense is too banged up to think they're going to be the first team to figure out the Redskins' offense. The Redskins are 2.5-point favorites on most services, but I think they cover that.
Redskins 24, Ravens 17
The Redskins are favored by 2.5 points on Oddsshark, which, factoring home field advantage, means oddsmakers feel this game is pretty even.