Game Preview: Ravens Look To ‘Pound’ Jaguars

The Jaguars are a team that can sneak up on you. But Baltimore’s not sleeping.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Monday, October 24th, 2011 at 11:34 am | Categories: Ryan Mink, Week 7 at Jaguars

The Ravens and Jaguars have been going in opposite directions this season.

Baltimore’s riding a three-game win streak and looking like one of the powerhouses of the AFC. The Jaguars have lost five straight and are only being kept out of the cellar by the winless Indianapolis Colts in the AFC South.

So how do the Ravens (4-1) go about putting down a team like the Jaguars (1-5)?

“Somebody’s wounded,” defensive end Cory Redding said. “No mercy, man. That’s our mindset. You’ve just got to go in there and pound them into submission.”

Following a blowout Week 1 win over rival Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens were also favored going into Tennessee, where they took a humbling 26-13 loss.

Nothing in the NFL is a guarantee, especially on the road and on Monday Night Football, which gets every player on both sidelines amped up to perform for the nation watching at home.

The Jaguars are a team that can sneak up on you.

They have the No. 8-ranked defense in the NFL and a Pro Bowl running back in Maurice Jones-Drew. Their one win came against the team that handed the Ravens their one loss – the Titans.

Head Coach John Harbaugh always stresses to his team to take a one-game-at-a-time approach, and it has worked well considering the Ravens have only lost to a team with a losing record twice during his tenure.

But, as Harbaugh says, that’s only a statistic. It’s the mentality the players have that makes them successful at taking down a team on the ropes.

“That’s just how we play. That’s why all these characters get along the way we get along,” linebacker Jameel McClain said.

“You play hard because you love it. You don’t play hard because you want to beat up on somebody or you think somebody is going to beat up on you. You play hard because it’s second nature. You don’t know any other way to do it.”

3 Matchups To Watch

RB Ray Rice vs. RB Maurice Jones-Drew
They won’t meet on the field (except maybe before or after the game), but these two similar tailbacks have a friendly competition to see who has the bigger day. Two of the top running backs in the game, each small-statured runner has the ability to take over.

S Ed Reed vs. QB Blaine Gabbert
Is there anybody rookie quarterbacks fear more than the game’s top ball hawk? Reed hasn’t had an interception since he pocketed two against the Steelers in Week 1. But he’ll be on the lookout facing this year’s No. 10 overall draft pick, who has done a good job of protecting the ball (2 INTs) so far.

WR Torrey Smith vs. S Dawan Landry
Smith will be the starter opposite Anquan Boldin with Lee Evans once again ruled out. As usual, he’ll be looking to stretch Jacksonville deep. In his time in Baltimore, Landry’s critics said he had trouble defending the long ball. He’ll be put to the test by the rookie.

3 Questions To Answer

Will Ravens protect Joe Flacco better?
Flacco took seven quarterback hits and two sacks from the Houston Texans. Jacksonville has the players to put some serious pressure on Baltimore too. Head Coach John Harbaugh said this week that he didn’t want Flacco taking as many big hits as he did last week. Will the offensive line respond?

Can Baltimore convert in the red zone?
The Ravens have scored touchdowns on 36.8 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line this season. That’s ranked 28th in the NFL. On the surface, it’s easy to say the Ravens need to run the ball better down there. But they need to improve across the board to get in the end zone.

Just how healthy are the Ravens?
Harbaugh was “very encouraged” by the progress made by cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Chris Carr this past week. But will they play on Monday? Smith is listed as probable and Carr is questionable. If they do come back, it’ll be interesting to see how they fit in.

Team Rankings

Ravens
Total Offense – 367.2 (14)
Rush Offense – 121.6 (12)
Pass Offense – 245.6 (13)
Points Per Game – 29.6 (5)
Total Defense – 286.2 (3)
Rush Defense – 76.6 (3)
Pass Defense – 209.6 (7)
Points Per Game – 14.2 (1)

Jaguars
Total Offense – 260.3 (32)
Rush Offense – 122.7 (10)
Pass Offense – 137.7 (32)
Points Per Game – 12.0 (31)
Total Defense – 325.3 (8)
Rush Defense – 115.0 (19)
Pass Defense – 210.3 (8)
Points Per Game – 22.0 (12t)

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