Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, October 5, four days before the Washington Redskins go up the road to play the Ravens in Baltimore.
—Today's schedule: Practice 1:00; Kirk Cousins and Jay Gruden news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 3 p.m.
—Days until: Eagles @ Redskins 11; Redskins @ Lions 18; Redskins vs. Bengals in London 25
First thoughts on Redskins vs. Ravens
—Every leap year the resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. gets decided and the debate about whether or not the Redskins-Ravens series is a rivalry is hashed out. I don’t think that it is a rivalry for the players. If the players don’t get worked up over a game against the Cowboys any more than they do any other divisional game it’s hard to see how they would get overly excited about playing an AFC team just because it’s 40 miles up the road. Some fans get worked up about it so there’s that. But if call this a “rivalry” you have to come up with another word for events like Auburn-Alabama, where as far as the fans are concerned there is that game and the 364 days until the next one. There is a bit more juice to the atmosphere surrounding the game because of the geographical proximity but that's about it.
—Although the Ravens are 3-1, Joe Flacco's numbers indicate that he is struggling so far this season. He has four touchdowns and four interceptions and has completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 6.3 yards per attempt. Flacco's passer rating of 79.3 is 26th in the NFL. If you prefer more advanced analysis his DVOA is 31st in the league. But he had helped rally the Ravens to two of their wins and that is what they are paying him to do. After getting carved up pretty well by two rookie quarterbacks in their first four games, the Redskins won’t sleep on Flacco.
—Justin Forsett was released yesterday, a good sign the running back Kenneth Dixon, the Ravens’ fourth-round pick this year, is ready to make his NFL debut. He has missed the first four games with an MCL strain. He should get some carries but the prime back will be Terrance West, who gained 113 yards on 21 carries against the Raiders last week. That was a career high for the third-year veteran and his second career 100-yard rushing game. So we’ll see if he can do it again. And yes, against the Redskins’ 30th- ranked rushing defense take the over.
—So far this year the Ravens are a top-10 defense, perhaps even top five. They are first in total yards allowed, third in passing yards and fifth in rushing yards. Going again to the advanced stats, they are fourth in the NFL in defensive DVOA. They have nine sacks, one more than the Redskins, and Terrell Suggs, despite that fact that he is nearly 34 and coming off of a torn Achilles, has three of them. It will be tough to move the ball against them.
—Speaking of ageless wonders, WR Steve Smith is 37, also coming off of an Achilles tear, and he is leading the team in receptions (24) and receiving yards (281). Will the Redskins have Josh Norman trail him like he did Odell Beckham and Terrelle Pryor? It may depend on if Bashaud Breeland is ready to return from his ankle injury. If he can go they might just play sides. If not, they might not trust Quinton Dunbar to be able to cover Smith. In any case, they could start off playing sides and see how it goes, moving Norman with Smith if it becomes necessary.
Tandler on Twitter
Is that bad? Well, the league average is a passer rating that is 5 points LOWER on third down compared to first and second. #Redskins 2/2— Rich Tandler (@TandlerNBCS) October 4, 2016
In case you missed it
- Redskins' pass defense solid on early downs, awful on money down
- NTK: Jones' running the best thing to come out of win over Browns
- 4 weeks in, Redskins schedule looks less daunting than first imagined
- NFC East Update: Eagles, Cowboys lead but Redskins in the hunt
- Week 5 Redskins vs. Ravens: time, TV channel, live stream
- DHall claps back at ESPNers for criticizing Beckham
- Compton zings Redskins run defense on Instagram
- Norman calls out Panthers: 'You get what you pay for'