This week the five good questions are posed to Bruce Raffel who covers the Ravens for Baltimore Beatdown. I expect you will find his answers both interesting and informative.
1. The Ravens defense by the numbers doesn't seem to be as dominant this season. Is that misleading?
Unfortunately no, that's not misleading. The normally dominating Ravens defense is a thing of the past this season, as they have had trouble stopping opponents all season. The loss of both Ray Lewis and CB Lardarius Webb has put the team in a tough spot, although the return of reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Terrell Suggs, should hopefully lessen that negative impact.
2. Are the Ravens 6-2 in part because of Joe Flacco or despite him?
That depends on which game and which Flacco you're talking about. Joe has looked great at home in the wins over the Bengals and Patriots but awful on the road this season. This, however, is a home game, where Flacco's QBR is almost double that on the road. Flacco has the arm but his pocket presence, mobility and slow delivery make it tough for him to get into the discussion of the best QBs in the league.
3. What lesser known Raven player should the Raiders be aware of?
I'd have to say ILB Dannell Ellerbe. The 3rd year linebacker was in the doghouse last year but now leads the team in sacks and is on pace to lead the team in tackles by year's end. The loss of #52 in the middle opened up a full-time spot for Ellerbe and he has surprisingly responded well.
4. What are the Ravens three biggest strengths?
Obviously, it has to be the multi-threat of Ray Rice on offense along with the emergence of WR Torrey Smith as one of the better deep threats in the league and the return of OLB Terrell Suggs to the defense from his Achilles Tendon injury.
5. What are the Ravens three biggest weaknesses?
Sadly, it has to be the virtually non-existent pass rush, which is also responsible for the poor run defense. In addition, the offensive line has not given Flacco the level of protection he needs to be consistently successful and finally, once again, the play-calling, namely from OC Cam Cameron continues to be head-scratching, if not downright predictable. Ravens: 37-23
To see my answers to his questions, Click here.