By Danny Cox
The Baltimore Ravens are in a tight race in the AFC North as all four teams are still alive for a playoff spot and the division title. Any wins in the division or even the AFC are costly, and it’s something that the Ravens cannot afford at this stage in the season.
In Miami, the Dolphins are a couple of games behind the New England Patriots in the AFC East, but they’re still very much alive for a playoff spot. Unfortunately, there are currently six teams standing at 7-5, including the Dolphins, and tiebreakers are going to come into play for the postseason. Miami can’t afford another loss right now and it’s going to be an AFC North vs. AFC East battle in week 14.
Steve Tasker of CBS Sports, and a former Buffalo Bill, took some time to speak on the upcoming AFC match-up and how the teams stack up against one another. It’s going to be a big game in a weekend full of them, but the loser could end up really hurting as the season winds down.
What kind of offensive scheme must the Dolphins use to get an advantage on the Ravens defense that is good against the run, but awful against the pass?
Steve Tasker: “I think they have to get the ball out of Ryan Tannehill’s hands on time and they have to protect him. He’s a guy that has been doing an outstanding job and he’s got a streak going of five games where he’s completed over 70 percent of his passes. He’s playing really well and throwing it very accurately. Even that interception last week against the Jets wasn’t his fault as it got batted up in the air.
Look for Baltimore to jump quick routes, hoping that their pass-rush can get home. If they can force Tannehill to get rid of the ball and force it quickly with pressure, that gives Baltimore the best chance.”
Joe Flacco has had better seasons…what do you think is the main cause of his lower numbers this year?
ST: “They started out very well this season, but one of the reasons to me is that his wide receiving corps is fading as the season goes on. Torrey Smith is still playing pretty well, but there is no question that Steve Smith Sr. is starting to show signs of age. Maybe it’s the long season, but he’s got a couple of drops. Last week in one series, he had two drops and a motion penalty.
You’ve got to remember that they are without Ray Rice and Justin Forsett is still coming about. They’re not quite the same team that we thought they were when the season began.”
In a secondary riddled with injuries, how do the Dolphins stop Steve Smith and Torrey Smith?
ST: “That’s a great question because I think that’s what Baltimore is going to do. The strength of Baltimore is still Joe Flacco and I think his ability to throw the football is second to none. That’s the match-up and Baltimore will go after the Dolphins in the secondary.
Look for the Ravens to move Steve Smith Sr. around and even Torrey Smith to give the Dolphins a lot of different looks. They will use many different packages to find receiver to defender match-ups they like, and once they find the best one, they will wear it out.”
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.