Ravens vs. Dolphins 2013 game preview: Two contenders try to bounce back

Marc Serota

Baltimore and Miami are both trying to stop any thoughts of a losing streak.

On Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens will take on the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium, and both teams hope to get back on track after losses.

Baltimore suffered a particularly rough defeat, with Joe Flacco throwing five interceptions in a 23-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills. The Ravens had a chance to win the game despite a bevy of mistakes, but were finally undone on a Kiko Alonso interception in the final minute.

Miami finally took its first loss of the season on Monday night versus the New Orleans Saints in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. New Orleans pulled away in the second half, winning 38-17. The Saints were aided by Ryan Tannehill throwing three picks and fumbling the ball away once, costing his team a chance to stay competitive.

Meet the Ravens

Baltimore has had to deal with tons of losses this year, whether it be from injury or free agency before the season got underway. Yet, without Ray Lewis, Dennis Pitta, Matt Birk, Paul Kruger, Bernard Pollard, Dannell Ellerbe and Ray Rice for a game, the Ravens find themselves 2-2.

After getting a $120 million contact after becoming a Super Bowl MVP, Flacco has had his struggles early in 2013. The former Delaware star has a brutal stat line, throwing seven interceptions and only five touchdowns with a 57.4 completion percentage.

Defensively, Baltimore is middle-of-the-pack, sitting 15th in yards per game allowed. The Ravens are incredibly balanced on defense, sitting 16th against both the run and the pass.

Meet the Dolphins

Miami is one of the semi-surprises of the year, sitting at 3-1 and looking the part of a playoff team. While there are not a ton of stars on the Dolphins' roster, they play a very solid team game both offensively and defensively. The only major weakness has been Tyson Clabo and the offensive line, which has at times been awful.

Tannehill had a bad game against the Saints, but he has been good otherwise. Overall, the Texas A&M product has thrown for 1,076 yards while completing 65.5 percent of his passes despite being under heavy pressure. No quarterback in the league has been sacked more times, 18, than Mr. Tannehill.

With Cameron Wake potentially out for this game, the defensive line will need to keep playing great football. Randy Starks might be the most underrated lineman in football, consistently getting pressure on the quarterback, along with Jared Odrick.

Local take: Baltimore

Victor Hensley of Baltimore Beat Down talks about Daryl Smith's impact on this team:

He has been the best overall player on the Ravens' defense, and it seems that he is replacing Ray Lewis rather nicely. He has played the most consistent, also. He came into this game and had another interception, just a week after he recorded his first career pick six against Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans. Smith had four tackles, eight assists, and an interception in the loss against the Bills.

Local take: Miami

Over at The Phinsider, Kevin Nogle discusses whether Cameron Wake will be able to play:

The biggest name on the injury report for the Dolphins continues to be defensive end Cameron Wake, who, just like last week, was listed as limited for Wednesday's practice. Wake has a sprained MCL in his knee, an injury that caused him to miss most of the game two weeks ago against the Atlanta Falcons, then be inactive for the game against the Saints.

Wake's ability to play this weekend likely will not be decided until Sunday morning, but, with the bye week coming for Miami after this game, the temptation to allow Wake another couple of weeks to heal will be there.

Follow the fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Baltimore Beat Down and The Phinsider, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:

@BMoreBeatdown

@thephinsider

Prediction

Baltimore does not have a very good offense right now. Flacco has been playing very sub-standard football and the Ravens can not afford it with Rice still working his way back into form from a hip injury. The Dolphins are at home in this tilt and have a better all-around team at the moment. Tannehill still has a long way to go to become an elite quarterback, but he has a better supporting cast and can take advantage of a suspect Ravens secondary if given time.

Pick: Miami 23, Baltimore 17

Odds

Miami is favored by 3 points at home, according to Oddsshark.com.

Next week

Miami has a bye week, and Baltimore hosts the Green Bay Packers.

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NFL Week 5 picks: Can the Packers, Texans rebound?

Eugene Monroe traded to Ravens | Steelers get Levi Brown

NFL power rankings: Saints go marchin’

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